It’s game 2 of the 2018 NWSL season for the Utah Royals as they travel for another away game to Houston. We scout the Houston Dash in preparation for the upcoming game.
Record: 0-0-1 (W-L-T)
Head coach: Vera Pauw, 1st season
Home stadium: BBVA Compass Stadium
2017 season in review
The Dash finished in 8th place in 2017, failing once again to make the post-season (they have yet to make the playoffs since entering the league as an expansion team in the 2014 season). To be fair, 2017 was a year when their head coach left in May, and then they were led by an interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Injuries to Kealia Ohai and U.S. internationals Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, who was traded in the summer to Chicago, did not help Houston either. Though they managed an unbeaten streak in the summer, it soon fizzled towards the end of the season.
Entering 2018: Houston, we have a problem
There was excitement when Houston entered into a three-team trade mega-deal with Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC at the 2018 College Draft that brought U.S. National Team member Christen Press to the Dash and sent Lloyd to Sky Blue and 2017 NWSL MVP Sam Kerr to Chicago. The Dash were ready to center their club around Press, but the feeling was not mutual. Press never reported for preseason after the conclusion of her international duty with the U.S. and wanted to be traded instead. The Dash were willing, but they wanted a U.S. National Team player in return, and well, NWSL clubs were quite happy with their pool of talented U.S. National team members (including the Royals who were at one point in talks with the Dash. Phew! We like O’Hara and Sauerbrunn in Utah). A trade never happened, and this week it was announced that Press would choose to play in Sweden instead. Houston, however, still owns the rights to Press when she chooses to return to the NWSL.
Realizing that Press was not going to play for them anytime soon, Houston moved on and admitted to focus on their current roster, which is full of new faces, including a new head coach leading them, Dutch former player Vera Pauw.
Players to Watch
Defender and captain Amber Brooks played every minute for the Dash in 2017, logging 2160 minutes. She led the team in total touches (1451) and clearances (102).
Janine van Wyk
Defender and South African international Janine van Wyk returns to the NWSL for a second season. Last year, in just 17 games, she was second on the team in clearances (77) and blocks (20)
In 2017, Campbell was a rookie out of Stanford and had a shaky start for her first NWSL game. However, she soon found her form and claimed the starting spot to make 65 saves with a save percentage of 74%. Campbell had such an impressive 2017 that she is a regular member of the U.S. National Team.
Houston Dash Overall
The Dash are in a rebuilding year. They saw departures of key players like Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Canadian Janine Beckie, and Brazilian internationals Poliana and Andressinha. At the same time, they added Australian international Kyah Simon and 2018 college standout Haley Hanson from Nebraska who started last week against the Red Stars.
Houston was a team that many were counting out before the season even began. But on Sunday against Chicago, they held their own with a 1-0 lead with a possession-style of play. Unfortunately for the Dash, the Red Stars managed to equalize in the remaining final seconds of the game.
Expect Houston to come determined once again on Friday against the Royals with the same style of possession.