“A bit of a sideways journey” is how Elizabeth Eddy describes her path to Houston. Her eight years as a professional soccer player span four continents and four NWSL teams, including three loans and three NWSL championships. A SoCal surfer who talks as fast as a Wall Street trader, she knows how to roll with the punches. The Dash has welcomed her verve and poise in the club’s quest to qualify for the NWSL playoffs for the first time.
“Having played for awhile, something I’m really diligent about is this concept of read and play,” she explains. “You read the moment and you play it. The next play is the next play and nothing in the past matters. You stay in that rhythm and that moment.”
She credits that concept for her brilliant second goal in the dramatic 4-3 Dash win at North Carolina in June. “That’s just what the game called for at the time. When I saw there was an opening to make that run across the back line and Maria was on the ball, I thought, ‘hopefully Maria sees it, so I’m going to stay wide and hold my line and not get offside.’ It’s a weird blind pass for her. She heard me call out, I don’t think she saw me.”
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) June 19, 2022
“It was exciting for me to be in a position to attack a lot and to be around players that have really good vision — real quality. I think two goals in one game, in three minutes, was definitely a career highlight. The second one was by far one of my favorite goals,” she says. “I was stoked and really thankful.”
Eddy proved to be just what Houston needed at a pivotal point in the game and in its topsy-turvy season. A starting lineup had barely congealed in April before James Clarkson was suspended, and then Sarah Lowdon stepping in as acting head coach.
“Sarah’s done a great job with what she was handed and where she’s at in her career,” says Eddy. And now, interim head coach Juan Carlos Amorós has arrived in Houston. “It’s clear he has a level of professionalism and holds the standards high.”
Eddy sounds ready to ride wave after wave in her praise for new Dash president Jessica O’Neill and owner Ted Segal, whose brief tenure has seen many changes. “Having to work through a lot of leadership changes is difficult, but important to move in a good direction.”
An “Interesting” Career
Being ready for new opportunities and ever eager to be on the field has led Eddy on a meandering path.
First it was a USC lacrosse coach who convinced her to play a second varsity sport and stay an extra year, which allowed Eddy to finish her master’s degree. She was drafted by Sky Blue in January 2014, just the second season of the league. “I thought, ‘soccer’s going nowhere, there’s no money in it,’ so I went back (to USC). Training 1v1 with a former Brazilian pro who was friend got me much better than playing a year of college soccer, in my opinion.”
In 2015 she was ready but on the move again. “I came into the season a couple months late and was traded to WNY Flash. I became a super sub, was second in goals [that season], they signed me to return, and here I am, seven years later.”
Playing beside Aya Miyama while on loan at Yunogo Belle in 2015 left a lasting impression. “She’s probably the best player I’ve ever played with in my life.” Miyama won the Bronze Ball at the Women’s World Cup that year and finished third in the voting for FIFA Player of the Year.
“How she operated as a person, how she played the game, how she led her team — I was impressed, honored, and thankful for that experience.” Eddy also praised the players there generally: “I was really happy to have gone to Japan early in my career because I could see what the Japanese players were best at, which is technically and tactically far superior to most players, in my opinion, whereas Americans are very physically and mentally strong. If you blend those two you’re probably going to be the best of the best.”
Eddy also had stints in Sweden and Australia, squeezed between her seasons in North Carolina and New Jersey and various injuries. “The more games you play, the better you get,” she says of playing on loan during the NWSL offseason. “It’s a great opportunity to experience another culture, continue playing games, and experience that whole process. It’s a utility to continue growing as a player.” Cross-training was apparently important down under. “I really love surfing and I got to surf 1-4 times per day in Australia and I was very, very happy.”
Eddy’s move in Houston in March 2022 was another sideways step in her journey. “I was in Australia when I got a call from Gotham FC that basically said, ‘you’re getting traded to Houston.’ You’ve got to roll with the punches because in this league, being single-entity, you’re pretty much a pawn. I was not super excited because I love New York City. All I knew of Houston was that it was hot.
“But ever since I’ve been here I’ve loved it every day more and more. Overall it’s the people. One thing that was really eye-opening for me was when I finally realized that it’s the fourth biggest city in America. Because of that, you get a lot of dynamic things. That’s the same reason I like NYC. You can see all of life squished together and you’re forced to deal with it. There’s rich, there’s poor, different opinions, different lifestyles, and you’re forced to deal with it, accept it, embrace it, and enjoy it for what it is. It’s modeled like LA — very flat and big and takes two hours to get across,” she says with a laugh. “I’d love some better public transit. If you could tell the mayor, that would be great!”
The diversity of the Dash has also drawn Eddy in. “The way they are true to themselves on this team is really unique. They allow for differences here. There’s a cool camaraderie with the girls.” She especially connects with the SoCalers and USC alumnae, of course. “A couple younger players went to my same college, Ally Prisock and Natalie Jacobs. I love hanging out with them. Lots of good Trojan blood going around.”
The Dash saw in Elizabeth Eddy a unique blend of youthful energy and veteran experience. “I’ve had an interesting career, not coming in having played many years as a starter.” The club is eager to see her create more chances and shots from the left side. “One of my best attributes as a player is the attacking side,” although she’s willing to play wherever needed.
Since joining the team she has started five games and subbed into two, playing at midfield as well as outside back. “I’ve been getting to play a bit lately which I’ve enjoyed the most.” Houston’s summer heat doesn’t bother her as long as she’s on the field.
Her Father’s Daughter
Sadly, Eddy missed the July 8 game at Orlando to be with her father Park Eddy in California. “My life changed forever” when she learned he had a stroke, she recounts on a GoFundMe page she created for his long-term care. The team wore wristbands with his name during the game at Orlando to express their love and support.
Thank you all so much, brought me to tears 🤍🙏🏼 https://t.co/ah50CWWu9F
— Elizabeth Eddy (@elizabetheddy2) July 11, 2022
Eddy returned to the squad this week and has been training in the sessions led by newly-arrived coach Amorós. “It’s been a difficult time for her and her family, I think she’s been appreciative of her teammates. I think the club has been doing everything it can to support her. I would like to send my best wishes to her dad that he’s able to recover quickly,” he expressed. With many players out or away for international duty, Houston will be relieved to have her available for tonight’s game.