The Houston Dash embark on a two-match road trip when they take on defending champs Washington Spirit on Saturday at Maureen Hendricks Field in Maryland. A quick turnaround will see them put wheels up and travel over 2,000 miles to face Portland on Wednesday, so the urgency for securing a positive result will be that much higher. Due to the excessive heat warning in the DMV area, kickoff has been pushed back by one hour until 7:00 PM CT and the action will be shown on Yahoo! Sports.
Due to the heat warning ⚠️ tomorrow’s game vs the @HoustonDash has been moved to an 8 pm start time. Gate D and the Fan Zone will open at 6:30 pm, Gate A will open at 7 pm. pic.twitter.com/dmJVmPI6NI— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) July 19, 2019
Caught in the midst of a seven-match winless run, the team has been boosted by the return of key contributors from international duty at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Head Coach James Clarkson is hoping his side can capitalize on the added depth and energy to reverse their fortunes and make progress toward the playoff line.
“It’s great to have everybody back and the atmosphere around the place has been lifted”, Clarkson confirmed during the week.
Saturday’s bout is the second of the season between the sides after they played to a scoreless draw four weeks ago. The goal will be to produce a similar performance in front of Jane Campbell’s net because at 19 goals conceded, the Dash have the second-worst defense in the league ahead of Orlando. According to the Houston Chronicle, the back line will be without Ari Romero while she prepares for the 2019 Pan American Games with Mexico, as well as Clare Polkinghorne who had to return to her native Australia for an undisclosed reason.
Despite the final scoreline, the Dash produced a solid performance in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars in their last outing and were unlucky to not come away with at least a point. They dominated the run of play, produced far more scoring chances, and nearly grabbed an equalizer in the dying minutes.
The most significant factor on Saturday will be the return of Rachel Daly, who is fresh off a fourth-place finish with England. She was in the stands for the loss to Chicago while serving a two-game suspension for her red card offense against Utah back on May 11. Daly sees the trip as a chance to really put their stamp on the game and dictate play, rather than sitting deep and inviting pressure.
“I think for us it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s away, it’s at their home field, but we’ve got to take risks. We’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net, we’ve got to get the ball higher up the field.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Spirit find themselves in the final playoff position but are trying to end a skid of their own – two draws and two defeats in their last four. They are coming off a thrilling seven-goal affair in which they lost an early lead and saw their comeback effort fall just short in a 4-3 loss to Orlando. U.S. women’s national team players Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh have now returned to the club, but Lavelle will miss out on the action as she continues to recover from a lingering hamstring issue.
The Dash are at the point of the season where even a couple results, especially on the road, could see them rebound in a big way and close the five point gap that currently separates them from the playoff picture.