The busy day, week and month for Seattle Reign FC continued on Wednesday, with the club announcing the signing of Danish right back Theresa Nielsen. The international defender heads to Seattle after helping her country earn silver in the UEFA Euro final in 2017.
In fact, it was the 31-year-old defender’s goal that pushed Denmark past Germany in the Euro quarterfinals. Her performance during the tournament, where she played every minute for Denmark, earned Nielsen a spot on the Euro Best XI list.
“Theresa was one of the players on my wish list when I accepted the job in Seattle,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “Her ability to attack from the back is what is going to make us more dangerous as a team.”
Nielsen has earned 118 caps with Denmark, scoring four goals for her country. She started the recent Denmark match against the U.S. Women’s National Team, playing 90 minutes and keeping a pesky Megan Rapinoe mostly at bay. While the Denmark backline struggled to connect passes all night, none of that poor possession came through Nielsen on the right.
The Danish defender spent the majority of her professional career with Brøndby IF in the Elitedivisionen, the highest women’s league competition in Denmark. There, Nielsen became a club leader over eight years, playing 276 matches and scoring 48 goals. She was a key part of five league championships for Brøndby and amassed 35 UEFA Champions League appearances — slotting in four goals throughout tournament play. In 2015, Nielsen and Brøndby made it to the Champions League semifinals.
In January 2017, Nielsen announced she would be leaving Brøndy to join Vålerenga in the Toppserien, the top women’s professional league in Norway. A big reason for the move was financial. In Denmark, Nielsen said she was working close to full-time to supplement her soccer career. With Vålerenga, she could focus solely on soccer.
For her new Norwegian club, Nielsen played 22 matches alongside former Portland Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos, and was named best defender in the league this past November. She only signed a one-year contract with the club, leaving room for a move to the U.S. in 2018.
What does Nielsen’s signing mean for Reign FC? The defender arguably has the starting right back spot — a position of need the last two seasons — on lock down. She brings a lot of speed and a veteran presence to the backline, while also possessing a strong attacking prowess. Her ability to get up the flank and whip in crosses will greatly benefit Seattle’s center forwards.
Nielsen was recently named the 52nd best women’s footballer of 2017 by The Offside Rule podcast. In announcing her ranking, Nils Nielsen, former Denmark national team head coach, had this to say about the defender: “Theresa Nielsen is a very experienced right defender. She’s fast and she loves to attack. She has a fighting heart and she always gives all to her team.”
However, Nielsen’s signing also means that Seattle is going to have to make a few more moves, as the team now has up to nine international players and only five international spots in which to fit them. Expect more announcements over the next month as Andonovski and Bill Predmore work to mold a squad that can finally earn Seattle Reign FC its first NWSL Championship trophy.