In the final match of the Houston Dash's three-match away series, the players travel to Yurcak Field in New Jersey to take on Sky Blue FC for the first time in the 2014 season.
Nothing to fear from Sky Blue?
Currently, Sky Blue sits just above the Houston Dash in standings.They will be hosting the Dash after a hard loss to Seattle Reign FC last weekend. Sky Blue were able to get on the board against the league leaders in the first half. But a rally in the second half by Seattle gave them the 3-1 victory.
On paper, Sky Blue isn't really anything to spark any worry, which could be a great sign for Houston. Midfielder Katy Freels looks to be their greatest attacking force. So far in the 2014 seasons, she's notched four goals, making her the lead goal scorer for the team. Otherwise, there offense isn't too much to bat your eyes at. The only other players who have scored this season have been forward Jonelle Filigno (who only has one goal) forward Monica Ocampo (a total of two goals this season) and defender Kelley O'Hara (also two goals this season.)
On the defensive end, the Dash would normally be dealing with US Women's International players Kelley O'Hara and Christie Rampone in front of the Sky Blue goal. However, USWNT head coach Jill Ellis just announced O'Hara and Rampone would be on the roster for the national's teams games coming up in mid June. So O'Hara and Rampone could not be available for Sunday's game. If they do take the field, the duo will be the biggest challenge for the Houston offense.
Dash looking for back-to-back wins
Riding high after their second win of the season and a solid performance against Western New York Flash, the Houston Dash will be primed to continue to build their momentum. And with the return of USWNT defenders Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg, they could do just that.
It's been no secret that Houston's defense has been spotty at best. While last week saw great performances in back by Osinachi Ohale and Marissa Diggs, there's been something a bit lacking in the back for the Dash. Most of the players head coach Randy Waldrum has placed in defense have not been natural defenders. Engen and Klingenberg could finally tie everything in for Houston in the back.
Offensively, the Dash will again be looking to Austrian Nina Burger to be making a statement. She scored one of the two goals last week against WNYF and has proven again and again that she is great at runs on goal and pressuring the opposing team's defense.
Of course, Ella Masar is a constant presence for Houston everywhere on the field; her ability to make quick runs and assist in the midfield have been key for the Dash this season. Look for rookie forward Kealia Ohai to get a possible start this weekend as well. Ohai opened Houston's scoring last weekend and is a constant danger in the box. Her ability to be quick and work around defensive players will be vital this weekend.
Houston's match against Sky Blue FC will kick off at 5 p.m. CT Sunday, June 8.