The Wellington Phoenix have again looked to the U.S.A. to further strengthen their squad ahead of the 2023-24 Liberty A-League.
The Phoenix have signed exciting American fullback Hailey Davidson to her second professional contract.
Davidson, 22, recently returned from a short stint at Mallbacken in Sweden’s Elitettan, following a celebrated collegiate career.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, the right back played two seasons at the University of Oklahoma before transferring to the University of Pittsburgh, where she played under Nigeria women’s head coach Randy Waldrum and helped lead the Pitt Panthers to their most successful season last year.
Phoenix head coach Paul Temple believes Davidson is a “really good fit”.
“We were looking for a really attack-minded, athletic and technically good fullback,” Temple said. “On the left-hand side we had Michaela Foster perform really well last year, and we want to have that on the other side.
“Through her college career with Pittsburgh Hailey played quite similar to how we’d like her to, so we got a really good idea of what she’s like in that position.
“Randy Waldrum was the coach there, so she’s played under a really top-quality coach and a national team coach. Her football IQ and the coaching she’s had has been really good.
“Once we connected and I started talking to Hailey about our playing style it was almost like we were thinking the same thing and thought this is going to be a good match.”
Temple expects Phoenix fans will enjoy watching Davidson play.
“Hailey’s high paced, high energy and athletic, but also really good technically on the ball.
“Her attacking down that right hand side of the field is going to be really good to watch.
“We want to be an all-action, energetic, high-speed team with the way that we play and Hailey’s profile fits that.
“She’s also an awesome person and a great personality.”
Hailey Davidson jumped at the opportunity to join the Phoenix after a couple of trials in Europe last month didn’t result in contract offers.
“My agent and Paul had been in contact since May and I was so excited when Paul reached out to me and we got talking,” Davidson said.
“He seemed really positive about me as a player and he really liked what he saw.
“It was a super simple, easy process for me signing with Wellington.
“I’ve heard great things about the A-League and I think New Zealand is a beautiful place to live and play football.”
Part of the A-League’s appeal for Davidson is the fact many of her compatriots have played in the competition in recent years.
“The A-League has had a history of hosting many Americans that are in and out of the NWSL. I would say it’s very pro-American, which is nice.
“I’ve always been the type of person that is fine with moving to the other side of the world, if it means it sets me up for success and I can evolve as a player.
“I’m excited to experience a different league and I’ve had many friends who have played for different teams in the A-League.”
Davidson is the second American to join the Phoenix, following attacking midfielder Hope Breslin, who was announced as the women’s first visa signing last week.
The two met at the Houston Dash’s pre-season camp in February.
“It’s incredible,” Davidson said. “It’s such a small world.
“We’ve kept in touch a little bit, so when I found out Hope had signed with Wellington I was super excited because she’s a great person and a great player.
“It’s really exciting to play with people that have been playing at a high level and want the same experience as you do.”
Hailey Davidson is the 13th player confirmed in the Wellington Phoenix women’s squad for the 2023-24 Liberty A-League, joining fellow defenders Michaela Foster, Kate Taylor, Mackenzie Barry, Marisa van der Meer and Rebecca Lake, midfielders Hope Breslin, Chloe Knott, Grace Wisnewski and Alyssa Whinham, goalkeeper Brianna Edwards, and forwards Emma Main and Michaela Robertson.
The Phoenix women will start pre-season training early next month, with the A-League to kick-off on October 14.