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NWSL Player of the Week: Ebony Salmon returns with a vengeance

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Salmon scored a hat trick for the Dash on Saturday after a midseason trade from Racing Louisville. (Maria Lysaker/USA TODAY Sports)

In just her third start with the Dash, Ebony Salmon got back to her scoring ways, burying a hat trick in Houston’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday.

The English striker joined the Dash in a trade from Racing Louisville last month amid some controversy. Despite a breakout 2021 season with Louisville, Salmon wasn’t getting much playing time this season, averaging just 15 minutes in five appearances.

The 21-year-old voiced her displeasure with the club after the trade.

“I think I was at a point where I’d kind of given it long enough. I’m not going to play here,” Salmon told The Striker Texas on June 27. “I need to go somewhere where I am going to play and where I’m valued.”

Salmon has started all three games she’s appeared in for the fourth-place Dash and made an immediate impact on the attack, earning her JWS Player of the Week honors.

In 84 minutes Saturday, Salmon recorded 16 touches, created one chance and scored three goals in an incredibly efficient performance.

Salmon’s debut goal for the Dash came in the 11th minute. She then doubled Houston’s lead with her second finish of the night just before the half.

The forward continued to cause problems for Chicago’s backline after the break, slotting home another goal to complete the hat trick in the 55th minute.

“My confidence was quite low after not playing earlier this season. I missed one that I should’ve scored, but we didn’t take our foot off the gas,” Salmon said of her performance Saturday.

Salmon is not only lethal in the final third, but also an expert at pulling defenses apart and exploiting space while flawlessly timing her runs in behind the backline. With Salmon, Houston’s attack is brimming with potential, averaging a league second-best 1.7 goals per game.

Following the international break, Houston will regain its top two goal scorers in Canada’s Nichelle Prince and England’s Rachel Daly. The new offensive trio has the potential to catapult the club atop the league. The Dash (5-3-4) sit just four points back of the first-place San Diego Wave.