OL Reign has acquired the National Women’s Soccer League playing rights to Tobin Heath, multiple league sources tell The Equalizer.
Racing Louisville, who held Heath’s NWSL rights since November 2021, agreed to trade them to the Reign in exchange for $50,000 in allocation money, a second-round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft and a natural fourth-round pick in the same draft. The trade for Heath’s rights is finalized, per sources with knowledge of the situation; the Reign and Heath are expected to soon agree to terms on a contract.
Heath most recently played for Arsenal, helping the Gunners finish second in England’s Women’s Super League in the 2021-22 season. Her time there — at the club she loved since she was a child — was marked by various injuries which limited her to only nine appearances in league play (three starts) in addition to four appearances in the UEFA Champions League. Heath joined Arsenal after one season at Manchester United.
A move to OL Reign brings Heath back to the NWSL with the rivals of his longtime previous team, Portland Thorns FC. Heath was a founding player for the Thorns in 2013, helping the team win the inaugural NWSL Championship (while playing through an injured foot in the final) and played with the team through the 2019 NWSL season, winning another title in 2017.
In 2020, Heath opted out of the inaugural NWSL Challenge Cup played at a contained site in Utah, which was a right that players had given the newness of the COVID-19 pandemic. She then signed a one-year contract with Manchester United in summer 2020.
At the time of Racing Louisville’s expansion draft, Portland had five United States women’s national team federation players (NWSL contracts paid by US Soccer, a system which was recently abolished), and the Thorns could only protect two. They chose to protect Lindsey Horan and Crystal Dunn, leaving Heath exposed. Louisville selected the rights to Heath and had held them since, while she played in England, until this trade with the Reign.
Asked in early June about rumors of Heath’s arrival, Reign head coach Laura Harvey said Heath is an excellent player but his rights are with Louisville. “I’m not sure if anything is going to happen there. I think right now, it’s all up in the air a little bit. But I think Tobin could be a fantastic player and has shown that she’s a fantastic player in this league, but as of right now no big news to share on that.”
Additional reporting from The Equalizer’s Bella Munson.