They're back! After a long offseason wait the Houston Dash return to action Friday April 10th, at home against the Washington Spirit at BBVA Compass Stadium. Houston native and WNBA star Brittany Griner will be on hand to take part in the ceremonial coin toss, as the Dash will seek to kick off year two in the right direction.
This past training camp, Managing Director Brian Ching and Head Coach Randy Waldrum outlined making the playoffs as the goal for this season. In order to achieve Waldrum's goal, Houston's roster underwent a transformation in the offseason.
Only ten players remain from their inaugural roster. The biggest offseason additions for the Dash have been Morgan Brian's first overall selection in January's draft, acquiring Carli Lloyd from the Western New York Flash, and the international signings of Stephanie Roche and Rachael Axon. In 2015 the Dash will also see the return of Brittany Bock who missed all of 2014 after suffering a torn ACL in the season opener.
Opening day opponents, the Washington Spirit have also seen their roster go through some major changes this offseason. The Spirit are without leading goalscorer Jodie Taylor who was dealt to the Portland Thorns and midfielders Lori Lindsey and Colleen Williams who announced their retirements.
Keys to the Match
Find Ohai - The Dash offense seemed anemic last season scoring a league-worst 23 goals. With the offseason additions of Axon, Brian and Lloyd, look for the Dash to create more scoring opportunities for Kealia Ohai upfront.
Beware of Nairn - While Jodie Taylor is gone for the Spirit, Christine Nairn has a proven herself as a dangerous attacker since departing Seattle. The forward scored six goals last season and even netted two off set-pieces.
No Canadians, Hopefully No Problem - Erin McLeod, Allysha Chapman, Lauren Sesselmann are currently oninternational duty with Canada's National Team. The recent call-ups mean the Dash will be short two defenders and Bianca Henninger will presumably be the starting keeper against the Spirit.
U.S. Women's National Team players Lloyd, Brian and Meghan Klingenberg will make their first and only home appearance in Friday's match before departing for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
2015 Houston Dash Roster
Goalkeepers (2): Erin McLeod, Bianca Henninger
Defenders (7): Rachael Axon, Allysha Chapman, Niki Cross, Meghan Klingenberg, Ella Masar, Stephanie Ochs, Lauren Sesselmann
Midfielders (5): Brittany Bock, Morgan Brian, Jordan Jackson, Carli Lloyd, Ashley Nick
Forwards (4): Melissa Henderson, Tiffany McCarty, Kealia Ohai, Stephanie Roche