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Houston Dash make offseason splash with "hall-of-famer" Carli Lloyd

The Houston Dash went into the offseason seeking to make a big splash in the transfer market that would be a statement of intent ahead of the team’s second year in the NWSL. That aim was realized on Thursday with the news that the Dash have signed one of the top names in women’s soccer.

Carli Lloyd arrives in Houston with a stellar resumé as a two-time Olympic gold medalist and U.S. national team veteran. The Dash are expecting her to be a key ingredient as the side look to reach the playoffs in 2015.

“We’re clearly getting one of the best midfielders in the world,” head coach Randy Waldrum told HoustonDashSoccer.com. “We’re picking up a hall-of-fame player, a difference-maker.”

A dynamic attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, the 32-year-old New Jersey native arrives in Texas via a trade with the Western New York Flash in exchange for Becky Edwards, Whitney Engen and a third-round pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft.

Lloyd has scored some of the most iconic goals in U.S. history. She found the net twice in the Americans’ 2-1 win over Japan in the 2012 Olympic final, and also scored the game-winning goal in the 2008 gold medal match. That year she was named U.S. Soccer female athlete of the year. In 2012 she made the ten-woman shortlist for the FIFA women’s world player of the year award.

Lloyd has scored 51 times for the U.S. in 177 appearances since making her international debut in 2005 and played the full game on Wednesday evening as a U.S. side also featuring Dash defender Meghan Klingenberg beat Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 at Sporting Park in Kansas City in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. T&T are coached by Dash head coach Randy Waldrum.

Lloyd remains an integral part of the lineup, having started all but one of the Americans’ 16 matches so far this year. And her high-profile talent will help focus attention on the Dash in their home town and beyond. “It’s a great move for the city of Houston,” said Waldrum.

He paid tribute to the professionalism and ability of the two departing players. Edwards added bite and wholehearted commitment to the midfield, missing only one match, while Engen joined midway through the season to help shore up the defense and made 11 starts.

If the Dash seek to bolster their midfield again this winter, they hold the first overall pick in the 2015 NWSL college draft, which puts them in position to sign highly-rated University of Virginia starlet Morgan Brian if they feel she is the right fit. The 21-year-old already has 13 U.S. caps. Hard-tackling midfielder Brittany Bock and Canada defender Lauren Sesselman should be back to boost Waldrum's options after seeing their 2014 seasons ruined by serious knee injuries.

Dash managing director Brian Ching is thrilled by Lloyd’s arrival and delighted that hard work behind the scenes to make the deal came off. “I think she’s one of two players that I would trade anything to get,” he told HoustonDynamo.com. “I think she’s one of the two best players in the world, she instantly makes our team better. She’s a big name in women’s soccer and she’s going to be our marquee player.”

Ching said that more moves are planned as the Dash look to make a push for the playoffs in 2015 after a challenging debut season which culminated in a ninth-place finish. “We’re obviously unhappy with our results last season and know we need to improve and this is the first step, a player we can build the team around,” he said.

Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.