Analysis: Rachel Daly’s start to the NWSL 2022 season

Rachel Daly
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 31: Rachel Daly #3 of Houston Dash attempts a pass against Washington Spirit at Audi Field on October 31, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Rachel Daly is one of the most interesting players in women’s football due to her qualities in both defence and attack. We tend to look into her performances with the Lionesses, but how good is she actually in the NWSL?

In this analysis, we will look closer at her threat in front of the goal and the expected numbers that go along with that particular threat. The data in this article is from American Soccer Analysis and was collected on June 5th 2022.

Rachel Daly’s data

In the graph above you can see the 15 players with the highest expected goals number in the NWSL so far. The expected goals data measures the likelihood of a shot being converted into a goal. According to the calculations of American Soccer Analysis, Rachel Daly had a likelihood of scoring 5,73 goals in the games she has played so far. With that, she ranks second after Alex Morgan.

So how does she do with actual goals scored? In the graph above you can see how she does on goals scored. In terms of goals scored, she ranks 8th. This seems like she isn’t confirming the quality of the chances, but considering the xG is 5,37 – she is doing pretty good. It means, that other players are outperforming their xG: they are scoring chances that we wouldn’t expect.

Rachel Daly’s goals: penalties

Rachel Daly is doing very well in the expected goals and goals metrics, proving to be a huge asset for Houston Dash. But how did she score those five goals?

The first goal Rachel Daly scored was in the game Racing Louisville vs Houston Dash. Daly converted a penalty with confidence. She didn’t hesitate in running up to the ball and fully went for the left corner. The ball was on a very difficult height for the goalkeeper if she went the right way, so I doubt it whether it would have been saved in that scenario.

In the video above you see her taking another penalty in the game Kansas City Current vs Houston Dash. Where she went for power in the penalty above, she now waited a little to see which side the goalkeeper would go and then calmly sent it to the other side. A very composed finish.

Rachel Daly’s goals: open play

In the video above you see Houston Dash in their game against Portland Thorns. Daly comes up high on the pitch and receives the ball when she is unmarked. She moves up into the penalty area and then inverts, and in the process loses the direct defender. That gives her a little bit of an edge and then she scores with her right foot in the near corner.

In the video above you see Houston Dash in their game against NC Courage. One of Rachel Daly’s qualities is, is that she manages to run in a good position to receive the ball from a through pass and then finish it in the 1v1. She’s absolutely lethal in front of the goal and her composed finish here, does confirm that.

In the video above you see Houston Dash in their game against Orlando Pride. Daly’s pace is what makes her stand out and makes it difficult to mark her. The cross comes from the left and even though she has to beat both central defenders, she runs at a moment when they can’t really spot her. Her connection with her head to the ball is of such quality, that this is a very well-worked goal.

Final thoughts

Rachel Daly is a player that isn’t matched by any other player because she is so versatile. Not only is she a talent for attacking runs and connecting with the ball in the right moments, but her quality ball-striking ability – is of a high level.

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