Every week, Dynamo Theory will discuss three of the best moments/characteristics from the past week's Dash game and three aspects of their play that can be highlighted as areas the team needs to improve in and even the random moments that worked against the club—regardless if Houston's result is a win, loss, or draw.
1. Kealia Ohai vs. Erin Simon
For a majority of the first half, Houston’s offense looked anemic and caught in a perpetual struggle to produce quality chances. As the primary catalyst for Houston’s attack, Kealia Ohai made the decision to switch flanks towards the end of the first half, a choice that provided her with a favorable matchup against Erin Simon rather than attacking Erica Skorski with Christie Pierce lurking in the nearby area.
Ohai vs. Simon was Houston's key battle throughout the match, a fight the Sky Blue defender was initially winning until she succumbed to a combination of Houston's heat and Ohai's speed. As Ohai continuously attacked Simon and made her way into the box, the quality of Houston's chances grew and the club finally found the back of the net with Poliana’s 76th-minute goal.
76' And here's a look at the @HoustonDash's first goal, as Poliana's shot hits the bottom right corner. #HOUvNJ pic.twitter.com/Duqncrq2iX— NWSL (@NWSL) May 13, 2017
The goal itself was a byproduct Ohai’s persistence, as the forward turned Simon around on her run down the left flank, towards the end line, and utilized her vision to play the ball through the box and found an open Poliana. Ohai’s adjustment brought Houston back to within a goal but unfortunately for the club, Sky Blue head coach Christy Holly decided to take Simon out in favor of fourth overall draft pick Kayla Mills and ended Ohai’s favorable matchup.
2. The Return of Andressa
After Morgan Brian made a strong return to Houston's lineup last weekend, Brazilian midfielder Andressa had her opportunity against Sky Blue. While Brian didn't display the same form last Saturday, Andressa picked up where Brian dropped off in a season debut of her own. As a halftime substitute the Brazilian midfielder reminded Dash supporters of the supreme ability she has on the ball and as a playmaker the club has been missing this season.
Andressa created one of Houston's best opportunities in the match—aside from Poliana's goal—a strike from distance in the 69th minute that forced Kailen Sheridan to make a terrific diving stop.
3. Sky Blue FC Again!?
Houston has a great opportunity for redemption on Saturday in the road leg of its two-game series against Sky Blue. The Dash won’t want to waste an opportunity to earn three points, especially with a May 27th matchup with the Seattle Reign looming, an opponent Houston has yet to defeat in its four-year history.
Here's a brief reminder of what happened when the Dash faced Reign FC back in Week 2.
1. The Impossible Task of Marking Sam Kerr
The Dash backline that has had trouble marking pacey forwards like Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press, faced its ultimate challenge on Saturday against Sam Kerr's combination of strength and speed. Kerr made life extremely difficult for Houston's center backs Bruna and Janine Van Wyk, routinely battling and overmatching Van Wyk with her size. On three separate occasions, Kerr beat the defenders assigned with the difficult task of marking her and each lapse resulted in a Sky Blue FC goal. The most glaring and cringeworthy moment for the Dash came during Leah Galton's 53rd-minute goal. On the play, Kerr successfully drew Van Wyk, Bruna, and Levin in her direction with a diagonal run and slipped the ball back across the field to an open Galton for a 1v1 opportunity against Lydia Williams.
A sequence from @samkerr1 and @leahgalton21 in the 53rd minute. #NWSLonLIFETIME pic.twitter.com/k9VyDYQ8iU— Sky Blue FC (@SkyBlueFC) May 13, 2017
2. Sarah Killion's Penalty Kick
There are a few things that are certain in the NWSL; offsides, blowout victories for Seattle, last minute goals, and Sarah Killion scoring from the penalty spot.
32' Sarah Killion converts the penalty with a right-footed shot to the bottom right corner for @SkyBlueFC. pic.twitter.com/u6zmC0wEEN— NWSL (@NWSL) May 13, 2017
Killion has a near perfect six for seven career record on penalty kicks and they've have accounted for three out of her league-leading four goals this season. Her penalty kick against Williams was an unstoppable, perfectly executed placed strike into the far corner.
3. The Crossbar
As an inanimate object, the crossbar has no distinct loyalties, it's often cited as a friend to keepers and an enemy for strikers but served as the ultimate symbol of the good and the bad for Houston and Sky Blue last weekend.
The frame stopped Killion's volley attempt in the first half and Janine Beckie's strike ricocheted off the same spot in the 48th minute. With two key stops, the crossbar accounted for as many saves as Kalieen Sheridan and Lydia Williams combined.