With their playoff hopes over, the Houston Dash look to capitalize on last week's win against the Boston Breakers and finish out their 2015 season with another victory on the road against one of the strongest teams in the league, the Chicago Red Stars.
Last week during Houston's final home game of the year, Ella Masar would be the saving grace of the team, notching her first goal of the season with an assist from forward Jessica McDonald. Not only did the win finally knock the Dash out of their four-game losing streak, but it also placed the Houston team in fifth spot in the league; a spot they could keep with a win against the current second-place Red Stars.
Not only would a win secure their spot and give the Dash pride for the end of the season, but they could also play a bit of the role of trouble maker for Chicago. Currently second in the league with a secure playoff spot, Chicago is now playing for a chance to have home field advantage for a NWSL playoff game. It would the first chance in franchise history for the Red Stars if they pull it off. If Houston deny them, it would be a great opportunity missed for Chicago.
However, looking at the games these two teams have played against one another this season, not only will Chicago have home advantage on Sunday, but they will have a bit of history behind them as well. They lead the season series against the Dash with one win July 12. The meeting before that on May 15 came to a 2-2 draw.
Closing out their sophomore season in the no. 5 spot without a playoff game would definitely be an improvement for Houston over their first season in the league. In 2014, the Dash not only missed the playoffs, they ended the inaugural season in the last spot in standings.
A win Sunday would not only be a morale booster, but show a marked improvement for the Dash as well, with hope that things will continue to build and be refined in the 2016 season.
The Red Stars and Dash will kick off at 4 p.m. Sunday at Toyota Park in Chicago.