Friday night the Houston Dash host the Utah Royals at BBVA Compass. It will be a match up of an old team made up of new players and a new team made up of old players.
The Dash kicked off the season last Sunday against the Chicago Red Stars with a 1-1 draw. Kimberly Keever scored in the 38th minute of the game to give the Dash a lead for most of the game. During stoppage the Red Stars scored on a set piece to prevent the Dash from starting their season with a win.
Former offensive players Kristie Mewis and Rachel Daly played the game as outside backs.
The Utah Royals kicked of their inaugural season with a controversial draw against the Orlando Pride. Royals’ Becky Sauerbrunn was hit in the face with a ball which the referee saw as a reason to award a PK to Orlando. The Pride converted the PK tying up the game, 1-1, a score that would hold until the end of the final whistle. In spite of the controversy Utah showed that the new kids in the league are ready to compete. The team was able to shut down the Orlando attack in Orlando which has been no easy feat.
Who are the Royals?
In November of 2017 it was announced that Real Salt Lake would be launching a team in the NWSL. Days later it was announced that FC Kansas City would be folding and that all of its player contracts, draft picks, and other rights would be transferred to the new Salt Lake City club. A week or so later the team announced that they had hired Lauren Harvey who had recently parted ways with the Seattle Reign.
The current squad is made up of 14 former FCKC players, but only five of those players started in the game against Orlando. The team has five allocated players like Becky Sauerbrunn who was part of the transfer of FCKC players. They added to their allocated player list traded for Diana Matheson and Kelley O’Hara. The team has also brought new players to the NWSL. Midfielder Gunny Jónsdóttir looked poised to become a star in the NWSL after scoring the first goal in club history.
The Dash looked better than many expected last week against the Red Stars. The back line looked strong as Kristie Mewis and Rachel Daly showed that move from offensive to defensive may be fruitful for the team. Outside of the defense the starting lineup consisted of new players brought in by Vera Pauw in the off season.
Rookie Kimberly Keever scored her first goal in the first half of the game against Chicago. Overall, the Dash midfield looked like it may be its weakest point in the lineup. The ball often seemed to skip past the midfield connected with the forwards directly from the defenders. As the season continues on the midfield will need to develop a better connection with the forwards if the team wants to make a play for the playoffs.
Kealia Ohai has been cleared to play after tearing her ACL last season but the team plans to bring her back slowly rather than risk reinjury.
How will the two match up?
Friday night will be a better show of what the Dash is capable of than the opening game. The faced a Red Stars team that was several depleted due to injuries, but Friday they face a full strength Utah.
The experience and familiarity of the former FCKC players and allocated players for Utah will give them the edge over a Dash squad still learning how to play together. The Dash will need to create more offense throughout the entire game if they want three points against a team captained by Beck Sauerbrunn.
Oh and cheetahs.
Who: Houston Dash vs Utah Royal
Where: BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX
When: Friday, March 30 at 7:00 pm
Injury Report as of 1:00 pm CT 3/29/18
HOUSTON DASH OUT: Kyah Simon (right hamstring injury – D45), Thembi Kgatlana (excused absence) QUESTIONABLE: Allison Wetherington (left ankle sprain)
UTAH ROYALS FC OUT: Alex Arlitt (left knee strain – D45), Mandy Laddish (right hip contusion – D45), Kelley O’Hara (left hamstring strain), Amy Rodriguez (right knee – D45), Elise Thorsnes (concussion) INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Katrina Gorry (AUS)