A few weeks ago, the Houston Dash faced FC Kansas City in a match that would turn out to be an all-out beating. However, in the two games the Dash have played since their 4-0 loss, the team has shown signs of improvement that could promise a needed win for the NWSL team.
Yes, the last two matches have ended in 1-0 losses for Houston. But the signs are starting to show the Dash are starting to come together, to find the chemistry the team needs. This Sunday's matchup against Kansas City could be a huge chance for redemption and a win would settle the team with a needed boost of confidence.
Not likely. Though FC Kansas City had a hard fought match this week against Seattle Reign, they lost 3-2, but they are hardly vulnerable from it. Currently sitting fifth in the league, KC are quite a formidable team. They are very well rounded in both offense and defense. With US International Amy Rodriquez at the front of the offense, Kansas City can be lethal when they get behind a defensive line. Looking at the leaderboards across the league, when it comes to shots, goals, shots on goal and assists, Kansas City players are leading the way. So obviously they can be a bit scary offensively.
The last matchup between these two teams proved how effective Rodriquez can be. Houston will need to not only shut down her chances at goal, but her ability to get great passes to other KC forwards. Speaking of assists, Lauren Holiday is still another face to watch in the FCKC offense. She leads the league in assists and was instrumental in two of the four goals against Houston the last match up.
How did the Reign beat Kansas? Moving quickly against Kansas' strong defense. Seattle's first two goals came in the opening minutes of the match. The Dash forwards will need to be strong and fast against the FCKC back line and fight their way to goal quickly.
Burger key for Houston
After the Dash's midweek match against Portland Thorns, one thing was very clear: Nina Burger is the key to getting the offense in line. While she wasn't the only one pressing against the Thorn defense, Burger was clearly leading the charge. Since shes come onto the team, it seems the offense has started to finally come together. The most disappointing aspect of Wednesday's match was that her multiple attempts on goal did not find the net.
That was the biggest of Houston's problems; finding the net. Possession was fantastic, pressure against the defense was great, but the ability to finish seemed to be lacking. If the team had put away some of their shots early, they would have had almost complete control of the match.
Speaking of finishing, wasting set pieces was another problem for the Dash. Against Kansas City, Houston will need to utilize every single set piece they are awarded. Against Portland, the Dash had countless attempts from free kicks and corner kicks that all amounted to nothing.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Along with Burger, the Dash have other great forward players who can make a mark against Kansas. Ella Masar, of course, is one of the hardest working players on the team. She is always one to look out for. Arianna Romero was a dream to watch Wednesday. Her ability to work in the midfield and get the ball up to players like Burger and Masar will be key Sunday. She's also great on free kicks.
Kaylyn Kyle did fantastic in the midfield for Houston Wednesday, however after her missed penalty kick, her confidence seemed to slip a bit. She played a full 90 for the team, but didn't give a full 90. Hopefully, there will not be a repeat.
And as always, rookie Kealia Ohai's speed is a great asset. She has been a bit hot-headed in the past couple match ups. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, because her fearlessness to charge on goal is exactly what the Dash needs in offense. But she needs to be a little bit smarter about it, to settle and remember she can't score goals if she notches a red card.
It may not seem like it, but the Portland game pointed to signs of great improvement in the Dash. With luck, Head Coach Randy Waldrum has the team even more honed for this Sunday and ready for a little revenge against FCKC.
The Sunday, May 18 match up between FC Kansas City and Houston Dash will kick off at 5 p.m. CT in Kansas City.