Heather O’Reilly Signs for Arsenal Ladies

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Arsenal Ladies have finally confirmed the signing of 32 year old US Women’s National Team stalwart Heather O’Reilly from Kansas City. The signing has been in the offing for a few months now, Heather trained with Arsenal back in October and even played a behind closed doors friendly during her stay.

O’Reilly is one of the most high profile signings in English Women’s football history, having won three Olympic golds and the 2015 World Cup with the USA, for whom she has 231 caps. O’Reilly joins a number of high profile American players that have moved to Europe during the off season in the WSL. Crystal Dunn recently signed for Chelsea, while Alex Morgan joined Olympique Lyonnais last week.

The signing of O’Reilly, as well as Dunn and Morgan’s decisions to move away from the US- considered the citadel of women’s football- demonstrates the increased spending power of clubs in Europe. There is also an ongoing salary dispute between American players and the US Women’s National Team, which has led to some bad blood and a mood of distrust between footballers and the American soccer system. (Though it ought to be noted that O’Reilly has now retired from international football).

Heather, known commonly as HAO Stateside, plays in midfield, but with Arsenal well stocked in the centre of the park, it is likely that she will operate on the right hand side, where the Gunners are a little light on personnel. With Emma Byrne, Rachel Yankey and Casey Stoney having left and Kelly Smith retired, she also adds some vital experience to a young squad. Though she has just turned 32, O’Reilly is considered one of the finest athletes in the game.

HAO will stay with Arsenal until June to see them through the Spring Series. With the WSL transitioning back to a winter season in September, the Spring Series, running from April to June, is a one off competition that will fill the chasm before this summer’s Euro 2017 and the start of the WSL season in September. It is unclear whether there is any prospect of O’Reilly staying beyond the summer.

Manager Pedro Losa has hinted that he wants to use the Spring Series to blood some of his younger players, but HAO’s presence will serve as a guiding hand, as well as filling a problem position. Heather is also renowned for her high levels of professionalism and enthusiasm. Arsenal have spent much of the off season trimming a bloated squad, with Josi Henning, Losada, Corredera and Natalia also leaving the club.

Having already sealed the signing of Kim Little, The Gunners will look to add a couple more before the Spring Series gets underway, with a forward and a defender in the crosshairs. O’Reilly is Arsenal Ladies’ first ever American player, but given manager Pedro Losa’s connections in the states, where he coached in New York, she is unlikely to be the last.

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17 Comments on "Heather O’Reilly Signs for Arsenal Ladies"

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Arsepedant

Good signing. O’Leary is an excellent player, with a few good season left in her.

Matt K

O’leary? Oh really

idontremember

HAO!

Bryn

Speaking as an American ‘soccer’ fan means this statement should be taken with a grain of salt, but I can confidently say that HAO is a wonderful player for the squad. I think our women are, for the most part, legitimately better than the men’s side. It’s unfortunate that, given our country’s endemic history wage discrimination, it is more than likely that many of our best female athletes will leave for Europe to play professionally.

Nishant

Fantastic player with an even better attitude and knowledge of the game. Her interview(s) with Men In Blazers are worth a listen!

Armchair Expert

We will be rooting for you, Heather, here in Kansas City. KC is red!

JJ

Maybe you should ask Arsenal for an interview with someone like Clare Wheatley so you can have more understanding of Arsenal’s history in the 1980s and 1990s. Arsenal had an American forward within their ranks in the 90s.

The ESPN article stated the deal with HAO is for 18 months by the way.

Stillberto

It’s definitely until June, there may well be an option to extend for 1 year, which would be great.

Feel free to enlighten me re: the American player in the 90s (I have been watching them since 93 and don’t recall one, but very happy to be corrected). That would be more helpful than your pissy tone tbh.

JJ

Tim, sorry if you felt my tone in my other post was “pissy”, it was unintentional.

The American player I was talking about was Kara Lee Reynolds. She signed for the club during the 1996/97 season. See the following images for more information.
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We also had at least one other American play for us in Michele O’Brien as you will see on her wiki page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_O%27Brien). Other foreign players I remember from way back to have played for us include Rosa Serra, a Spanish ‘keeper (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roser_Serra) and Sara King, who was an Australian ‘keeper. We even had a South African player in the squad a number of years ago.

Stillberto

Thanks! I was curious enough to ask Sylvain to look into this for me, as you probably now know! The circle of life.

I have every programme from 96-97, so am going to look that one out.

JJ

I’d also advise you to see if you can find your men’s home match day programme against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, 13 September 1997 for some interesting information about the management of ALFC that you may not be aware of. Certainly no mention of it online.

Carlos_Santana

Good to read up on the ladies team a bit, more articles in the future please?..

FunGunner

Thanks for the background info. I hope HAO stays long term. I was a bit surprised that we are after another forward as well as a defender, though, we seem to have lots of attacking players.

Stillberto

Someone we’ve been after for a while. Think the opportunity is just there and they want to take it, but agree, not an area of need really.

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