Seven days ago, the Houston Dash came out and played with a reckless, controlled abandonment not seen in previous Dash seasons. On Friday night, the team regressed to the point that the 90 plus minutes of soccer appeared to be nothing more than a pre-game walk thru as the host side drew with visiting Utah 0-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The two teams combined for 13 shots and four corners. Kealia Ohai cannot return soon enough.
The form just was not there in the dominant fashion it had been in the opener. Although just two games into the season, fans have witnessed both ends of the spectrum. The Dash were fortunate leave the match with a point as they mustered little if anything that resembled an offense.
“They [the young players] showed it on Sunday so they could’ve shown it today as well,” explained Dash head coach Vera Pauw following the match. “With an opponent who’s done their homework, you need to trust your capacities, and that’s starting by playing their game, what they want. So you need to put the wheel on the opponent, and that has nothing to do with youth, like the one who stood out tonight which is Linda Mohtlalo, our number 10, who is only 19, the youngest of all. So I don’t think it has anything to do with youth, it has to do with the letting the grip flow away, and the veterans were part of that equation as the younger ones.”
With Houston showing little in the way of offense, it was the defense that stood up to Utah and in particular goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Campbell’s dynamic save in the 28th minute off a free kick by Utah’s Gunny Jonsdottir’s. Campbell’s last minute flick over the frame kept the game level. Campbell had just a few words to describe that first stop.
“I didn’t see much. The ball popped over the wall, and I made the save. We grouped quickly and got organized.”
The second year keeper added eye popping saves in the second half as well to preserve her first clean sheet of the season. In the 66th minute, it was Campbell parrying away Brooke Elby’s shot from close range. Five minutes later, she came off the line to deny Jonsdottir once more.
Following the international break which includes a USWNT game at BBVA, Houston returns to NWSL action on April 18 on the road against the Chicago Red Stars.