On the Fourth of July, Houston Dash midfielder Brianna Visalli made her NWSL debut in the club’s Challenge Cup win over OL Reign. “I am really pleased that I made my NWSL debut with the Dash and we were able to pull off a win against the Reign,” she told BGN, adding that it’s been a long time coming. Her soccer journey has taken her from California to England to the bubble in Utah.
A native of San Jose, California, Visalli decided to stay in-state and become a student-athlete at Pepperdine University. “My collegiate career at Pepperdine was one of the best times of my life. Pepperdine is unique in that the program truly felt like a family–although exceptionally dysfunctional–one that I wouldn’t want any other way,” the 2017 All-American explained. “The program emphasized not only football but also excellence in all that we did and I am a better woman because of it.” Surprisingly, Bri is one of five alums of Pepperdine playing in this tournament.
After her time as a Wave was done, she took her talents across the pond to join West Ham United in the FA WSL. Visalli said, “Playing in England for both West Ham and Birmingham was such an amazing experience and one that has transformed not only the way that I play but see the game. My experience in England has been invaluable and I’ve enjoyed my development both on and off the pitch.”
“My favourite thing to do in England would be finding new coffee shops and perusing different boroughs in London and Birmingham,” she added. “Some of the things that I miss most include Victoria Sponge Cake (or “Vicky Sponge” as I like to call it) and spending a day in London and finishing it off with an afternoon at Borough Market and a nice dinner at Padella, which has become one of my favourites.”
While her club career brought her back to the United States this season, her international future could involve either country. With her mother being a native of England, Bri has the ability to represent the USWNT, whom she has featured for on the U-23 level, or the Lionesses of England. “It is quite a unique position having dual-citizenship in both the US and England,” Bri said. “One of the biggest benefits being that I have been able to play in some of the best leagues in the world, which has been awesome in my development as a player and person.
“I have been in touch, but we shall see moving forward. It will definitely help having played in one of the first professional sports to return to play in the US.”
Obviously, that return to action for the NWSL means Bri’s been in the bubble this summer, competing in the Challenge Cup. Outside of games, she’s keeping herself entertained with…games. “In the bubble, it can become monotonous, but my teammates are very skilled in different card games and activities,” she said. “For instance, I have learned how to play Phase 10, Sequence, Bananagrams, and KanJam, but I have yet to learn how to play Catan.”
Visalli and the Dash get back to the main game at hand on Friday night when they take on Utah Royals FC in the quarterfinals. Kickoff is set for 9 PM CT and the match can be streamed via CBS All-Access.