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Match Preview: Houston Dash look to stop the Seattle Reign

The Houston Dash have gone through their share of ups and downs this season, and their next opponent is on a run through NWSL with very little resistance. Can anyone stop the Seattle Reign?

Trask Smith

In an important mid-week battle the Dash take on the Seattle Reign at home. This will be the first of three nationally broadcast games for the Dash, with this game on ESPN3. The two teams faced off at the start of the season with the Dash travelling to Seattle and losing 2-0.

Seattle have spent most of the season running away with the top spot in the NWSL standings. The Reign have 46 points in 19 games played, FC Kansas City is the only team with a chance to catch them with 37 points in 20 games played. Seattle needs to earn four points or have FCKC drop four points to clinch a playoff spot. The Dash on the other hand are still near the bottom of the table in eighth place with 18 points after playing 18 games. The Reign's dominance has slowed a bit over the last couple of games until last weekends game against the Portland Thorns which they won 5-0.

Seattle comes with town with the leagues top scorer on their roster, Kim Little has scored 12 goals so far this season. Nahomi Kawasumi is the team's second top scorer with seven goals and tie in the league for 7th. The Reign then have four players who have each scored four goals this season one of whom is Sydney Leroux.

A late but dangerous addition to the team was Megan Rapinoe who joined the team part of the way through the season. She has only played in four games for the Reign starting just two but already she has scored two goals and one assist.

If you can get the ball away from the Reign and make a run at goal Hope Solo is there to stop the ball. Most know that Solo had some off-field issues earlier this season, Solo sat on the bench when she returned from them yet is still tied for second for number of shutouts this season. Solo has only made 47 saves this season with players like Lauren Barnes and Stephanie Cox on the backline to prevent Solo from needing to make many saves.

The Dash on the other hand have spent most of the season looking for goals while their defense tries to gel. Their top scorer Tiffany McCarty went on a great scoring run but seems to have cooled off. Teresa Noyola has three goals but has been out due to injury. Ella Masar also with three goals is recovering from a concussion, but played the last game as a substitute. Rookie Kealia Ohai seems to finally be hitting her stride as the season winds down. With three goals and one assist Ohai is starting to finish off her runs with the ball in the back of the net. Easily one of the fastest players for the Dash Ohai has the potential to get behind the Regin defense, but will need to figure out a way around Solo.

The Dash defense is still trying to find its way. The team spend most of the season without USWNT players Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen and have been trying to find their way now that they are apart of the backline. The line-ups are constantly changing as head coach Randy Waldrum tries to navigate injuries and figure out team chemistry. Stephanie Ochs who has spent most of the season on the backline has found herself playing in the midfield some as the backline has become a crowded position. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod has posted only two shutouts all season. While a shaky backline has played a part in McLeod giving up goals she has also developed the bad habit of coming out of goal. Once out of goal players have on multiple occasions chipped the ball over McLeod and into the net.

Simply put the Reign will be a tough test for the Dash. Both teams are on short rest having played over the weekend. The Dash will have to shut down the Reign to collect any points. With most team you can say shut down player X and you have a chance, but the Reign are too stacked to make that statement. The Dash will have to play the best game of their season on national TV.

The Dash face off against the Seattle Reign Wednesday, July 29 at 8pmCT at BBVA Compass Stadium. You can watch the game on ESPN3.