Ebony Salmon: NWSL star 'fighting' to succeed Ellen White as England’s striker

Houston Dash and England star Ebony Salmon

Ebony Salmon is in contention for the NWSL Golden Boot, just two months after scoring her first goal of the season.

The 21-year-old has been in scintillating form since signing for Houston Dash from Racing Louisville, scoring nine goals in 11 appearances.

Her exploits have helped the Dash to fourth place with two matches to go. At this rate, her side will secure a spot in the play-offs for the first time in its history.

The NWSL table is incredibly close, however, with just seventh points separating Portland Thorns at the top and eighth-placed North Carolina Courage.

Every point matters, but with Salmon currently scoring for fun, surely she must be confident of making history with the Houston Dash?

“We’re definitely not too far off the top but we’re also not too far off being out of play-offs,” Salmon told GiveMeSport Women.

“I think the league is so tight, so for us the goal for the rest of the season is to go out and try to win every game, because we can’t control other teams.

“We can’t control other performances, other games, or other results. We can control what we do, so we’ve got to put ourselves in the best position to make the play-offs.”

Ebony Salmon’s career so far

A product of the academy at Aston Villa, Salmon has already had an intriguing career.

She joined the newly-formed Manchester United in 2018, but did not make an appearance for the club. After a loan spell at Sheffield United, Salmon moved to Bristol City in 2019.

It was here that Salmon really began to make a name for herself. She was Bristol’s highest goalscorer for the 2019–20 season, with the Robins narrowly avoiding relegation from the Women’s Super League.

But despite scoring six goals in 20 appearances the following season, Salmon could not save Bristol from dropping down to the Championship.

Ebony Salmon at Bristol City
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – APRIL 24: Ebony Salmon of Bristol City looks on during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Aston Villa Women and Bristol City Women at on April 24, 2021 in Birmingham, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Her performances earned her a transfer to Racing Louisville in the NWSL, and the young striker started off well, yet again scoring a team-leading six goals in 20 appearances.

Things went downhill during Salmon’s second season at the club, however, and she only found her form again following her transfer to Houston Dash in June.

“Honestly, the biggest thing is just playing consistently,” Salmon said. “I think for me, having players around me that make me a better player, and having a coach that believes in me, has all contributed to that [her excellent goalscoring form].

“I would definitely say that I have proved that point. But the focus is on maintaining those performances and maintaining that standard, rather than just two or three months proving a point, and then my performances falling off.”

Differences between the WSL and NWSL

Not many English players have made the journey to the NWSL, and Salmon has noticed a striking difference.

“The game over here is a lot more transitional, it’s a lot more direct and end to end,” she explained. “It feels like it’s 100 miles per hour sometimes, and I think that’s the difference over here and over there.

“But I think there are some similarities. At the end of the day, it’s football, it’s professional, so we’re playing the best. We’re playing against and with the best players in the world.

“The standard is really good in both leagues, to be honest, and to be a part of that is great.”

Battling for a place in the England squad

England will have a chance to test themselves against the US when the two sides meet at Wembley for a friendly match next month.

Salmon, who thinks the game will be the most competitive played between the two national teams, will be hoping to feature in the Lionesses squad.

She was called up by Sarina Wiegman for England’s World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Luxembourg earlier this month, but her appearance in last year’s friendly against Northern Ireland remains her only cap to date.

But following the retirement of star striker Ellen White, Salmon has a chance to convince Wiegman that she should be the starting forward for the Lionesses.

England striker Ebony Salmon
BURTON UPON TRENT, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Ebony Salmon of England in action during a training session ahead of their FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers at St George’s Park on August 30, 2022 in Burton upon Trent, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

“Ellen’s been the starter in that position for a long time, but now she’s retired, it does open that spot up,” Salmon said.

“It probably took Ellen quite a while to secure that starting spot, so I don’t think someone’s just going to go into that spot straight away and keep it.

“I think the competition is good, and I hope to be a part of that, really fighting for that spot.”

Whether Salmon will return to the WSL in the near future is yet to be seen.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” she admitted. “I mean, I’ve done a lot of moving over the past few years.

“For me to be somewhere and settle is obviously the goal at some point, but I’m also always going to do what’s best for my career.

“So whether that’s moving, whether that’s staying here for the next 10 years, who knows what it will be. I think I’ll take each season here as it comes and make a decision based on what’s going to be best for me and my career.”

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