Maria Sanchez is all about the benjamins after signing the most lucrative contract in National Women’s Soccer League history on Monday.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the agreement, which is reportedly a three-year deal, with a mutual option for a fourth. In total, the contract could earn the Houston Dash forward almost $1.5 million. The Washington Spirit’s Trinity Rodman was the previous highest-paid player in the league thanks to the four-year, $1.1 million contract she signed in 2022.
In 2023, Sánchez led Houston in goals with four and added six assists in 21 starts and 22 appearances. She played in all of Houston’s regular-season matches.
“Houston, I am so excited to be coming back,” Sanchez said in a press release. “I am so privileged to represent such an amazing city and group of fans,” Sánchez said. “Words can’t describe the gratitude I have for the endless support I have received while representing the Dash. I can’t wait to get back to work and reach new levels of success for the club.”
After inking a full-time deal in 2022, Sanchez went on a mission to show off the skills she learned playing in 64 caps for the Mexican national football team the last eight years. Sanchez helped Houston make its first ever playoff appearance in franchise history in 2022.
The 27 year old had a unique pathway to this point. The Idaho native never played club soccer. Even after Sanchez set the Idaho state record for goals (178), she was only offered one college scholarship — Idaho State. After two years there, she transferred to Santa Clara.
“My end goal was to be a professional soccer player,” Sanchez told WSJ. “Back then, I didn’t realize how hard my dream actually was.”
She was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars in 2019, but Sanchez became the player that she is by honing her skills in Mexico. As the lead scorer (four goals), she helped Mexico take home the gold at the 2023 Pan American Games in Chile.
Sanchez will look to bring that kind of success to a Dash team that finished 6-8-8 and in 10th place in 2023.
“Her path truly represents Houston’s grit and the Houston Dash blue-collar mentality,” Dash general manager Alex Singer told WSJ, “and the work ethic that you can pave your own path.”
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