The Houston Dash will gear up to face FC Kansas City for a third time this season Saturday, June 14 at BBVA Compass Stadium at 8 p.m. CT.
With international duty calling many players away from both teams, both Houston and Kansas City will have a tough challenge on their hands. Many players will get first chances to prove themselves while others will be able to solidify their current positions on the team.
While Houston are running on a three-game unbeaten streak, FC Kansas City are also riding the wave of victory. In their last three games, FCKC have not only pulled off wins, but they have had shut outs as well. Winning on the road in Houston is very important for Kansas City right now. They are currently eight points behind the league powerhouse, Seattle Reign FC. Grabbing three points on the Dash will help close that big gap for Kansas.
The international call up leaves Kansas City without six players - keeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Becky Sauerbrunn, midfielders Lauren Holiday and Kristie Mewis and forwards Sarah Hagen and Amy Rodriguez. With A-Rod leaving for camp, a big offensive plus for Kansas goes with her. FCKC isn't without offensive prowess, however. Lauren Holiday is still a force to be considered.
On the defensive end, Amy LePeilbet returned to Kansas City last week against the Boston Breakers, clocking a few minutes. LePeilbet has been gone from the roster due to a knee injury. She'll more than likely be clocking some minutes again Saturday, but may not play the full match.
Houston building strength
The last three games for the Houston Dash have been very promising and exciting. With two great wins away and their first win at home as a franchise, the players look to finally be settling in as a team. The only dents in the team from international duty will be defenders Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg, who haven't played much with the team anyway due to finishing club commitments overseas. However, the Dash will lose key players to the Canadian women's national team; keeper Erin McLeod and midfielder Kaylyn Kyle and have also lost forward Nina Burger to the Austrian national team.
However, players who have recently been shining with the team will more than make up for the international players who will be gone. In the defense, Osinachi Ohale has been the hero of the Dash. Along with the massive presence of Arianna Romero, the back line of Houston has been getting stronger with each game.
Up front, the story has been all about Tiffany McCarty. The forward has notched three goals in the last two games and doesn't look to stop. Her offensive presence against Western New York Flash on Wednesday was phenomenal. Expect to see her continue that pressure against the back line of FCKC, with the help of fellow forward Ella Masar.