The Houston Dash, fresh off their best season since entering the NWSL, have garnered a little more respect. The Dash will open the 2021 Challenge Cup at home on April 9th, defending the title they won at the same tournament to start the 2020 campaign. The respect that comes with being a winner is a long time coming for the Houston franchise that began play in 2014. The Dash have teased not only the fanbase but the league with being contenders only to show their true colors as pretenders. Now in 2021, they are being taken seriously, as they should be.
“That will be the end of the 10-week preseason – it seems like it has been going on forever. I know the players are very excited to get going because they want to play,” said Clarkson on at this week’s press conference. “What a great way to start the defense of the Challenge Cup with a home game against Chicago.”
The Dash enter 2021 with the core of the team signed to long term contracts. The keeper, Jane Campbell. is one of the best in the world, the defense has been strengthened again, the midfield is solid and flexible and the offense is in great hands with Shea Groom and international star Rachel Daly. Respect is earned and the Dash earned it with a compelling run through the 2020 Challenge Cup during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Head coach James Clarkson has quickly built a staff and a team that believes in his message and enjoys his style of play.
The Challenge Cup defending champion enter 2021 as one of the favorites to contend for the NWSL title. From the opening game of the Challenge Cup on April 9th, the Dash will have a target on their back for the first time. How they play under the pressure and scrutiny of title contenders remains to be seen but one thing is for sure; this is a team ready for this moment.
“It’s great – obviously the MLS usually starts way earlier than we have, so it’s an honor to open up the season this year. The players are incredibly excited, and they can’t wait to get started. We had two good results at BBVA last year, and it’s been a year that we’re undefeated at home, so hopefully we keep that going and start off with a positive note,” concluded Clarkson.