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Houston Dash record-signing Maria Sanchez requests trade


Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has requested a trade only four months after signing one of the most lucrative deals in National Women’s Soccer League history, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window will close at midnight ET on Friday.

Sanchez signed a new contract with Houston in December for three years plus a fourth-year option, with a total compensation of $1.5 million including bonuses and the option year. At the time it was inked, it was the largest deal in NWSL history, although it was eclipsed by a few contracts signed in the months that followed.

Stream on ESPN+: NWSL regular-season games (U.S.)

Reached by ESPN on Sunday, a Dash spokesperson provided the following statement: “Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023.”

Sanchez, 28, was a restricted free agent this past offseason, meaning that Houston had the ability to match any offer from another NWSL team and retain her rights. Her contract is signed with the league, so it remains in place if she moves to a new team, and there are a limited number of sides that would be in a position to sign her.

She is a Mexico international known for her left-footed service and strong technical ability on the ball.

She became one of the top players in Mexico during her time in Liga MX Femenil, including with Tigres in 2021. Sanchez first signed with Houston in 2022 after a brief loan spell with the team in 2021. She has been a focal point for the team as a winger who has been utilized as both a wingback and higher up the field.

Houston has struggled to create stability within the club since it was founded as a 2014 NWSL expansion team, but the turnover has been particularly pronounced of late. There have been five different coaches in charge of the Dash since the start of the 2022 season, including two who were interims. One of those interim coaches served in the role on two separate occasions.

Last year, the Dash fired head coach Sam Laity with four games remaining in his first season in charge and the team still in contention for a playoff berth. Last month, the Dash fired former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson for violating the NWSL Anti-Fraternization Policy and the NWSL Coach Code of Conduct.

New head coach Fran Alonso was hired at the end of December after three years in charge of Celtic’s women’s side in Scotland. At Alonso’s introductory news conference, Dash general manager Alex Singer spoke about creating stability within the club after years of “highs and lows” and investing resources to establish long-term success.

Singer specifically pointed to signing Sanchez when discussing those plans.

“We talk about Maria Sanchez; she’s had a lot of success,” Singer said in December. “How can we make her the absolute, undeniable best winger in this league? She’s a great footballer, but what are we providing off the pitch in the gym, a dietician, high-performance director? All of these things to enforce what we already had in place foundationally, but take it up to the next level.

“This identity is going to be something that we really focus on — identity and culture. When anybody — player, staff — has the crest of the Houston Dash on their shirt, that’s going to have a whole new meaning this coming season and beyond.”

Houston is 1-2-1 (4 points) through four games this season. The Dash have conceded 10 goals, tied for most in the NWSL.

Last year, Houston conceded 18 goals in 22 regular-season games.


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