Three-time Olympic gold-medalist and World Cup champion midfielder Heather O’Reilly will be heading to England to join Arsenal Ladies of the FA WSL this upcoming spring. O’Reilly is set to return to FCKC in June but there could be options in her contract. The news was first reported early Tuesday by Glenn Crooks and has been independently confirmed by The Equalizer.
According to the tweet by Glenn Crooks, O’Reilly “wants to help soccer in the U.S.” and is joining Arsenal Ladies to “be a better ambassador.”
O’Reilly, who recently retired from the United States women’s national team last September, has spent the last two NWSL seasons in Kansas City with FC Kansas City. Upon retirement, she sits at seventh all-time in appearances for the United States women’s national team at 230 caps and registered 46 goals during her 14-year career with the senior team.
With this move overseas, O’Reilly joins fellow Americans Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan who both recently signed with clubs abroad. Dunn signed with Chelsea in England earlier this month and Morgan signed with Lyon of France in late December. Unlike Dunn who is not expected to return to the Washington Spirit later this year, O’Reilly is set to return to FCKC in June, around the same time that Morgan will return to Orlando. Morgan, Dunn, and O’Reilly are three of the most prominent international transfers out of the NWSL in recent months. All three have spent their time in the NWSL since inception and their moves abroad come on the heels of an expired CBA agreement between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the players. This appears to have loosened the relationship between the players, and federation, and their ties to the NWSL as players are looking for opportunities overseas now more than they have in previous years.
O’Reilly was an alternate for the Rio 2016 Olympics this past summer where the U.S. women’s national team was knocked out during the quarterfinal round by Pia Sundhage’s Sweden in penalty kicks marking the earliest ever exit of the USWNT from a major tournament. Prior to her time at FCKC, O’Reilly played for the Boston Breakers, Sky Blue FC (WPS), and the New Jersey Wildcats after graduation from the University of North Carolina where she played under Anson Dorrance.