If the game Houston Dash game on Sunday had ended with a 1-0 scoreline in favor of the Dash as it had been for most of the game against the Chicago Red Stars Dash fans would be a little happier this Monday. Instead the Red Stars scored one minute into stoppage time to tie the game and walk away from BBVA with a point. However, kicking the season off with a tie might actually be what the team and the fan base needs. The Dash have won their opening games for the past two seasons in a row but finished the season well outside of the playoffs.
One minute before that goal Twitter was already alight that we had all written off the Dash too quickly. So, this might not be the most challenging of Red Star squads, they were missing six of their top players, but this Dash is a different Dash. Maybe, just maybe the loss of Christen Press and the other head scratching moves were actually the right moves all along. Quickly the hyperbole surrounding the team was starting to steam roll and visions of NWSL Championships danced in people’s heads.
Then that goal came.
Taylor Comeau was left wide open on a set piece and she headed the ball right past a static Jane Campbell.
The goal quickly erased all of the good tiding as once again the Dash had blown a lead in the closing minutes of the game. Too many times have fan watched with bated breath as time wound down on a game that the Dash held the lead or were tied with their opponent only to watch helpless as the other team scored. Granted, that was a different head coach and largely different players, the Dash only have nine players returning from last season, but ending up with the same result makes it hard not to now believe that the team will finish at the bottom of the standings yet again.
That goal did not completely erase 90 minutes of play that showed the Dash are a very different team than we have seen over the last four seasons. The backline, its offensive players now converted to defenders, looked strong. Rachel Daly, former Dash forward, had a strong outing at defense. Pushing up the field Daly was sill able to connect with the players up top to start strong offensive drives while dropping back to defend when she needed to. Outside of the five players in the back everyone else starting on the field for the Dash was new to the team this year. Linda Motlhalo, new to the NWSL, showed herself to be a promising midfielder. Veronica Latsko and goal scorer Kimberly Keever were both 2018 College Draft picks and showed a lot of promise. However, the Dash lacked a strong attack for much of the game. When Nichelle Prince subbed in for Keever at half time the attacked strengthened considerably, but it remained clear that there is still room for improvement.
For the past two seasons the Dash has won at home against the Chicago Red Stars which has kicked the season off with lots of fanfare and high hopes to match the off season promises of an improved team. Of course those promises always turned out to be empty because by the time the playoffs rolled around the Dash were nowhere to be found. This time around, in the team’s fifth season, a 1-1 home draw that showed an improved team that can still improve more may have been just the right outlook to leave fans with. Sunday’s tie was not a display of more of the same but rather a glimpse at a team that might actual fulfill the promises made in the off season.