Houston Dash sign South African midfielder Linda Motlhalo

Houston Dash sign South African midfielder Linda Motlhalo

New Houston head coach Vera Pauw is drawing on her roots as the former manager of the South African Women's National Team by adding the 19-year-old midfielder.

aaron_bellamy
Aaron Bellamy

New Houston Dash head coach Vera Pauw continues to reimagine her team with the addition of 19-year-old midfielder Linda Motlhalo from South Africa. The international addition, which likely stems from Pauw's time as the head coach of the South African Women's National Team, is a replacement for Brazilian midfielder Andressa who was traded to the Portland Thorns for forward Savannah Jordan

Motlhalo has played at least seven games for South Africa at the senior level, scoring three goals in those games recorded. She was part of the squad that participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The best performance by that team was a 0-0 draw with Brazil in the group stage. South Africa will participate in the 2018 Cyprus Cup, which could cause Motlhalo to miss some of the Dash's training camp but would not affect her regular season availability.

Motlhalo (#8) waits to attack United States midfielder Christen Press (#12) while midfielder Allie Long (#23) provides support. | Photo: Patrick Gorski - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Motlhalo (#8) waits to attack United States midfielder Christen Press (#12) while midfielder Allie Long (#23) provides support. | Photo: Patrick Gorski - Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Houston Dash, under Pauw's direction, have undergone drastic changes during the offseason after finishing eighth in the league in 2017. The team traded Andressa for Savannah Jordan in early January before overshadowing the 2018 NWSL College Draft by participating in the three-team trade that ended up bringing Christen Press to Houston from the Chicago Red Stars. The Dash gave up Canadian international Janine Beckie and USWNT midfielder Carli Lloyd to Sky Blue FC who in turn sent Sam Kerr to Chicago. The Dash also acquired Canadian Lindsay Agnew from the Washington Spirit before the draft.

The Dash were extremely thin at midfield before the addition of Motlhalo, with just three players listed for the position on the team's official website. Houston was hoping to bolster the position with seventh-overall selection in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, Hayley Hanson, but adding a player that head coach Pauw is familiar with and someone experienced in international soccer will make the Dash a more competitive team. 

The Houston Dash begin training camp on February 19, with the NWSL regular season starting on the weekend of March 24.

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