The situation is fairly dire for the Houston Dash as they head into Week 17. With two matches this week — the first on Wednesday against the Boston Breakers — the Dash need to tally wins to keep some hope of playoff contention alive.
Their challenge Wednesday presents both good and bad opportunities for the post season plans. The Boston Breakers have already been eliminated from the playoffs for this season, which could be a (and maybe in some rights should be) something to play to Houston's favor. However, it also can (and seems to be) serving as more fuel to the fire for the Breakers.
In their match against FC Kansas City last week, the Boston ladies handed the eighth-place team a 2-0 scoreline. Midfielders Katie Schoepfer and Kristie Mewis tallied their first goals of the season during the match. Goalkeeper Jami Kranich was a force to be reckoned with as well during the match. It was her strong keeping that allowed the Breakers to take the upper hand in the first half and keep it. She was able to keep FCKC's midfielders Yael Averbuch and Heather O'Reilly off the score board in the first 45 minutes. This strong showing in the Breakers back line fueled their attacks on FCKC to lead to the upset.
Houston marches into Boston after a 2-2 draw last week against the Western New York Flash. The Dash started strong, hitting the goal first in the 28th minute with a nice shot from Denise O'Sullivan. But their weak points showed not eight minutes later when Lianne Sanderson would pull one back for New York.
It would be forward Kealia Ohai who would lead the charge to bring Houston back in front. But again, the defense were unable to help hold the lead, allowing the Flash's Lynn Williams to draw even a few minutes later.
It's this back and forth in scoring that has been the latest woe of the Dash. While the offense seem to finally be capitalizing on scoring opportunities, the team continues to struggle on the defensive end. It seems quite obvious of course, but the Dash will need to quickly get both offense and defense in sync against the Breakers if they hope to have a chance at the playoffs.
According to NWSLsoccer.com, there are quite a number of possibilities for the Dash depending on the outcome against Boston tomorrow night.
— If the Houston Dash lose or draw against the Boston Breakers, they will be eliminated from the 2016 NWSL Playoffs.
— HOWEVER, should Houston notch three points against the Breakers, a number of different scenarios arise, all based on the Magic Number or Elimination Number for each team.
From the NWSLsoccer.com website:
The pivotal match up between the Houston Dash and Boston Breakers will kick off at 7 p.m. CT at Jordan Field, Allston, Massachusetts. You can catch the game live on NWSL's Youtube channel.