Following the announcement yesterday of a trade between the Boston Breakers and Houston Dash which brought Kaylyn Kyle to Houston in return for Nikki Washington, Head Coach Randy Waldrum confirmed today the impending arrival of Austria National Team forward Nina Burger. Burger is expected to arrive in Houston this Friday but will not be eligible to play against FC Kansas City this weekend due to paper work issues. According to Waldrum:
[Burger] will have the weekend to watch us play, see what we are trying to do here, then we’ll have her all next week and have her ready to play for the weekend barring any league paperwork or paperwork trail issues that become a problem.
Burger (age 26) will fill the final international slot available to the Dash. In Burger, the Dash acquire a forward with a proven ability to score goals both at the club level as well as the international level. She arrives from ÖFB Frauenliga side SV Neulengbach in Austria where she has led the league in scoring on six different occasions.
Burger joined SV Neulengbach in 2005, having previously played with SV Langenrohr, a lower league side in Austria, and SV Hausleiten youth club which she joined at the age of 7. Burger has 50 CAPs for the Austrian national team and has scored a total of 29 goals, the second highest total in Austrian Women’s National Team history. She has cored 239 goals during her time with SV Neulengbach.
What remains to be seen is how well Burger’s experience and goal scoring track record in Austria and in UEFA Women’s Champions League translates to the NWSL, which as Waldrum noted is a very fast and physical league.
If Burger does come in and become an effective goal scorer up front, then it gives the Dash a different wrinkle. The team currently has a lot of speed and young talent available to run at opponents, but they lack a scorer like Amy Rodriguez, Sydney Leroux or Christine Sinclair who attract a lot of attention from defenses.
With Burger drawing defensive attention, it potentially creates more space for the likes of Kealia Ohai and Stephanie Ochs to run into and put defenses under pressure and immediately makes the Dash a much more dangerous team to face.
Kaylyn Kyle is an integral piece of the equation as well. Since Brittany Bock went down with injury in the season opener, the Dash midfield has struggled with executing the possession based game that Waldrum likes to play. According to Waldrum, passing stats and other key things that the Dash are trying to do related to possession have gone downhill every match since Bock’s injury. Kyle will help with fixing those issues. Today after practice, Waldrum spoke about the trade:
I think Kaylyn is going to bring that composure in the midfield that you can play to her with people around her and she can solve that puzzle. I think the load was just too much for Becky [Edwards] alone to have to cope with trying to get the young players caught up. So [Kyle] is going to really help us in our possession game.
While trading away Nikki Washington was a difficult move to make given Waldrum has known her since before her college days at the University of North Carolina, the match this past weekend against Seattle highlighted the need to make a move in the midfield.
The possibility of a move came about last week and I needed a little bit of time to really think hard about it. It is always hard to make a trade, especially when it involves someone you get attached to….. We saw in the Seattle game that their midfield was so superior. The players that we have had in there we are happy with, but they are young and don’t quite have that international experience. So, we felt like it was a move that we needed to make to make our team better.
Waldrum indicated that following the Seattle match he rang Managing Director Brian Ching and asked him to go ahead and work out the details of the trade. He noted that Kyle is a player he has had his eye on and has been interested in having if she ever became available but that he did not expect to have the opportunity to acquire her. Fortunately, Boston was willing to part with her and it became a situation of right fit and right timing.
In describing the qualities that Kyle brings to the team, Waldrum noted:
She [Kyle] is not exactly like [Bock] but she is similar with her tenacity and physical presence in there, he toughness and bite she brings. But the thing she does really well for us, with her international experience, she’s just really composed on the ball.
For Kyle’s part, she indicated that she was aware there were trade options and is pleased to have joined the Dash:
Houston was at the top of my list. I’m so happy that it actually worked out and that I am here and I can settle, kind of relax and get prepared for the season.
Kyle becomes the first player to have ever played against the Dash and then joined them, following the 3-2 victory the team recorded over Boston on April 20th. She described her impression of the Dash from that match:
They’re a good team and it’s really cool to see – you can tell that they really fight for one another. They know that they’re a young team but they use their cohesiveness and that team dynamic to really get into games. They are technically there and tactically and I think he [Waldrum] has one of the best tactical brains – it kind of reminds me of my national team coach in way, so it’s a really easy adjustment for me.
Kyle’s main focus now is learning how to play with her new teammates and getting to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Two players who will help in the adjustment are goal keeper and captain Erin McLeod, who is a Canadian National Team teammate and Ella Masar, with whom Kyle played at Vancouver Whitecaps in 2007. Kyle will play alongside Edwards in the midfield, a partnership that will be critical to the Dash success moving forward.
She [Edwards] is a great midfielder and I’m really going to learn a lot from her and I think we’ll work really well together. We’ll kind of feed off each other which is really exciting.
Fans will be able to see Kyle for the first time this weekend against FC Kansas City.