Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr needed just a 5 minute window to keep the Houston Dash from a historic Sunday as CRS defeated the Dash 2-1. Houston was looking for its first ever three game win streak and keep their place at the top of the NWSL table. Here are three takeaways from the match.
Too much Sam Kerr
Sunday’s disappointing showing further highlighted the difficulty Houston still has with top quality opponents and scoring threats. Two weeks ago, the North Carolina Courage came to town and embarrassed the Dash 4-0. On Sunday, it was Chicago’s turn. Time and again, CRS slipped in behind the Houston defense.
“I felt we gave them a little bit too much room in midfield. That lead to through balls, and then obviously Sam Kerr is Sam Kerr,” said Dash head coach James Clarkson. “She was running off the shoulder and she did it really well. Then there were two fantastic finishes to be fair to her. Disappointed from that because we talked about it. We prepared for it but unfortunately we came out a little bit flat today.”
Defense still a work in progress
Houston’s defense continues to be a work in progress. Satara Murray and fan favorite Ari Romero had starts once again on the backline. Both flanks got beat today as Kerr’s speed and ability to move without the ball created chances that the best player in women’s soccer cannot be allowed to have.
“I think for the first 15, 20 minutes we gave them too much time and space in the midfield. We didn’t get pressure on the ball to stop the service and they were just picking us off,” added Dash defender Claire Polkinghorne. “After the two goals, I think we picked it up and defensively sorted ourselves out a little bit, but you can’t give a quality team a two-goal head start. But, full credit to ourselves. We got back into it and fought all the way until the end.”
Houston shows the grit of a champion
To its credit, Houston did not roll over. Under Clarkson, the team has shown the grit necessary to become a champion. Sofia Huerta, the former Chicago star, rifled home a goal late in the first half to the deficit in half. Houston tightened up its defense on the fly and although they could not pull even, they never quit.
The final shot
Houston enter the FIFA break in the best shape ever in its six year history. The Dash are putting together a quality mix of veterans and youngsters. Together, they have the calming influence of James Clarkson as well as the infectious winning attitude of their coach. Houston is close.