The Houston Dash are going to the NWSL Playoffs for the first time in club history after San Diego and North Carolina played to a 0-0 draw last night. The Dash now take on the Washington Spirit tonight, knowing a win could mean they host a playoff game at PNC Stadium. In order to do so, the Dash need a win and a Kansas City loss at Louisville or a win by four or more goals. The Dash and Spirit drew 2-2 at PNC Stadium in their previous meeting this season.
It’s been a wild season for the Dash, starting back before the first game when Sarah Lowdon took over as acting head coach and it’s ending tonight with a team going to the playoffs for the first time in club history. Even the biggest Dash fans would have been hesitant to think this team could finish in the top six after their Challenge Cup showing this season, but they came together and put together a memorable, historic season. Some of the pressure may be off, knowing they’re already in, but the ladies will want a win to cap off this season in style and potentially get another game in front of the home fans at PNC.
Leading goal-scorer Ebony Salmon missed last weekend’s loss to OL Reign because of COVID protocol. Salmon is back with the team and trained yesterday in D.C. ahead of tonight’s game. Salmon should help the attack get back on track after being shut out against Reign. Interim head coach Juan Carlos Amorós is looking to see the team improve in the offensive end. “A little bit of more clarity in the final third,” Amorós said in his weekly press conference. “We again got there too many occasions, but then, you know, like, the final decisions weren’t there. When they were there, the execution wasn’t good. We’re doing really, really well defensively. Considering, you know, in lapse of concentration, probably some very clear chances. I think every game that we play, we normally shoot double than the opposition. We create a lot but we just need to make sure that those lapses don’t happen and then we will be fine.”
The Dash have never been to the postseason but they have some experienced veterans on the team who they know they can turn to in games like this. Jane Campbell, Sophie Schmidt, Nichelle Prince, and Katie Naughton are some of the leaders on the team that the young players look to and even though she is new, Caprice Dydasco has also taken on a leadership role. “I’ve definitely had some good games and bad games during this point of season [in the past],” Dydasco said this week. “As like a leader and one of the older players on this team, I just got to bring my experience. I’ve just told some of the younger players not to think too much and put too much pressure on ourselves and just we play our best when we bring our best assets to the team and just enjoy the game. A lot of times in training this week, we felt the pressure and I think we just got to go back to just enjoying it, scoring goals and just being ourselves again.”
Houston Dash - Out: Annika Schmidt (right knee - season-ending injury), Kelcie Hedge (right knee - season-ending injury), Makamae Gomera-Stevens (left knee - season-ending injury), Ella Dederick (right knee), Shea Groom (yellow card accumulation)
Washington Spirit – Out: Tori Huster (left lower leg - season-ending injury), Emily Sonnett (foot - season-ending injury), Kelley O’Hara (hip)