This is Stephanie Roche, the newest signing of the NWSL’s Houston Dash. The name and face are familiar to you, but you’re not quite sure where you know her from. Give it a second, you’ll get it.
You almost certainly remember Roche as a nominee for last year’s Puskás Award for the most outstanding goal of 2014. The award was given to James Rodríguez for his goal with Colombia during the World Cup, but everyone with functional eyes and a soul knows that Roche’s juggling, spinning wonder-strike was infinitely better. She was robbed. Knowing FIFA, there was probably some kind of illicit payment involved.
If her goal itself doesn’t ring a bell, then you probably recall Roche from the much-shared and discussed photo of her gliding past a very goofy-looking Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony.
Beyond her two most internet-worthy moments, of course, is Roche’s actual career. The 25-year-old striker has been a pro since 2007, mostly in Ireland. Her longest spell was with Peamount United, where she claimed two Golden Boot awards, tallying 71 goals in three seasons. Roche also has 28 caps and four goals with the Ireland national team on her résumé.
Since we’re all adults here, we can admit that no one reading this knows that. Who among us, even those who follow NWSL faithfully, are up-to-date with the happenings in Irish soccer? Despite none of us really knowing who Stephanie Roche was before the Puskás nomination, this is still a great signing for Houston and the NWSL as a whole. Stunt-signing — the ancient American soccer tradition of signing players for their name recognition and ability to draw a crowd — has helped bring the domestic game on the men’s side to the thriving (depending on who you ask) place it’s in today. It’s a joyous occasion to see America’s women’s league spending money thinking box office before box score.