Rachel Daly isn’t the best player in the league. She isn’t even the best player on the Houston Dash. But she is everything that you would want a soccer player to be. She plays extremely hard, makes an impact, and is willing to play any hand she is dealt. Sure, she might not be the name that pours out of fans’ mouths when they talk about the Dash. She takes the back burner to the likes of Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, and Poliana. But she should be noticed more for the work she puts in.
Here are the five reasons why:
She Is All Over The Pitch
When Rachel Daly doesn’t have the ball in the attacking half it’s hard to not find her pressing some poor defender to try and win it back. She is everywhere, she is fast, and even though she is the kind of forward that likes to play high, she has no issue with dropping back in order to steal the ball in the midfield. And this makes her dangerous for opponents – they don’t see her coming. She is also the kind of player that didn’t bat an eye when placed at right back when injuries left Houston’s back line in need of some filling. And that is what anyone wants out of a soccer player – someone who is willing to put in the extra effort, no matter where that may be on the pitch, in order to create positive opportunities for the team.
She Comes In Like A Wrecking Ball
When the Houston Dash played Portland two weeks ago, the focal point of aggression was definitely coming from Carli Lloyd (which isn’t surprising). But day in and day out, Daly makes some really intense tackles that no one really seems to care about. She can be rough out there, and she doesn’t mind taking another player to ground if it can win her team the ball back. She just tends to be a little smarter about it than other players.
She Can Stretch A Back Line
Technically this reason is a team effort. But Rachel Daly plays a very intricate part in breaking down the opposing team’s defense. Because the Houston Dash have a rather impressive attacking side between Carlie Lloyd, Poliana, Kealia Ohai, and Rachel Daly, it can often be difficult for a defense to cover them all with ease. Choices have to be made, and with Poliana pushing up the wing, this often leaves Daly with room to move, collect, and drop a slip ball back into the box for Lloyd. And if that option isn’t available she can always shoot the ball, or look across the field to Ohai. So she has a lot of guns in the Dash arsenal to use in her attack, and she isn’t too selfish to only use her own. She also has the skillset and intelligence to make and execute this choice with ease. She can see the advantages of having Lloyd back on the pitch with her, and now that the Dash are beginning to turn a corner from the rough start they had at the beginning of the season, her role in this offense will only expand and become more dynamic.
She Owns Her Shortcomings
When Jane Campbell had her first NWSL start against the Seattle Reign on April 22 it didn’t really go her way. It was a 5-1 beating against Houston. And it would have been easy to point the finger at the rookie and just move on to the next match. But Rachel Daly acted like a true professional after the game. She acknowledged that she and the team could have played better, she acknowledged that it was a tough loss, and then she acknowledged that it was time to move on to the next game. That’s class, ladies and gentlemen. And that is something we all like out of our athletes.
She’ll Play Until She Literally Passes Out
Rachel Daly is tough, and she is passionate about the game that she plays. And she will work as hard as possible for all 90+ minutes of a match. And as many fans saw in May, she will literally play until she passes out from heat exhaustion, has to be taken out on a stretcher, and hospitalized. Then she would play in the immediate next match. Dedication is an understatement. She literally sacrificed her body to play at her top level on a day that was unsafe to play, and in a match that the league should have postponed. But if you ask Rachel Daly to do something, she will do it to the best of her abilities.
So, the next time you watch a Houston Dash game make sure to watch for Rachel Daly. Acknowledge her. Cheer for her. You’ll find it’s pretty easy. Because she is the type of player that will do everything you ask of her. She is what we all want in a soccer player. And she may not ask for the spotlight, but there are often times that she definitely deserves it.