The Houston Dash return to action with the Kansas City Current as tonight’s opposition at PNC Stadium. Houston last played on June 19, a 4-3 win on the road against the North Carolina Courage. Kansas City’s last match was a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Red Stars on June 18. If you are coming out to tonigh’ts game, make sure you build in a little extra time as the Astros play at the same time, across the street at Minute Maid Park.
Who’s in, who’s out?
The Dash come into this match with a number of players out but have also welcomed some new faces to the roster. Rachel Daly, Michelle Alozie, Allysha Chapman, Nichelle Prince, Sophie Schmidt, Maria Sanchez, and Michaela Abam are away on international duty. Houston was able to add four national team replacement players this week, bringing in midfielders Meagan Rosa, Haley Berg, and Kayla Hamric, along with defender Machaela George. The Dash also acquired English forward Ebony Salmon from Racing Louisville. The 21 year-old striker should be available tonight.
Acting head coach Sarah Lowdon spoke glowingly of Salmon’s acquisition and what she can bring to the team. “It’s really exciting,” Lowdon said in her weekly press conference. “She’s a special type of player. She’s creative. She’s got pace, she can score goals from inside the box, outside the box. I think she, is a young talent, she’s obviously 21. She’s got a lot of upside. We’re really excited that we’re able to add her to our frontline depth. It’s nice to have a familiar accent on the team. We’ve kind of joke, she’s a Manchester United fan and I’m a Newcastle fan, so we’ve already had a bit of a laugh about that. We’re really excited to get her here. I think she’s going to be great for the Dash. It’s a great, great pickup for us.”
Veteran leadership to lean on
With a number of starters out, the Dash will lean on their veterans to get them through this stretch of games. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, defender Katie Naughton, and midfielder Shea Groom will be looked to on and off the pitch. Groom is in her third season with the Dash and has been around the league for some time. She knows she is looked at by the younger players and can have an impact. “I’ve always felt like a veteran, in this league, obviously, I’ve played on a lot of different teams, I know what I’m going up against in most games, because I’ve faced these teams for over eight years now,” Groom said this week. “So, I’ve always thought of myself as a veteran, I think now, it’s stepping more into that role. We have a lot of young fresh faces. I think in years past, it’s like, oh, I, you know, I’ve only been in league a couple years, and you know, I have an important role, but there’s still older players here and now I’m one of the oldest. So, I think I carry a little bit of that weight on my shoulders, just making sure that these younger players know that they’re going to be stepping in these roles and to be confident and to try to get the best out of them. So for me, it’s just trying to build people up and put them in the best position to succeed and, and to believe in themselves. Thankfully, we have two great captains that do the same and have similar experience as me in the league. I think my role has evolved a little bit, but at the same time we’ve had some, many people on this team, be leaders, and I think that’s what makes us special.”
No Juan, yet
Lowdon will continue her role as acting head coach for this match. Interim head coach Juan Carlos Amorós has yet to join the club, as he is still awaiting his visa. Amorós has been involved with the team while he awaits meeting them in person, taking part in calls with the coaching staff and players. Lowdon has the the Dash playing well under her leadership with the team currently in fourth place in league play with a 4-2-3 record and three points behind San Diego, who is in first place. Houston earned 11 points in the last six games and got off to thee best start in club history through nine games with 15 points. Lowdon will look to continue the winning ways before she hands the reins to Amorós.
Houston Dash - Out: Annika Schmidt (right knee - season-ending injury), Kelcie Hedge (right knee - season-ending injury); International Duty: Rachel Daly (England), Michelle Alozie (Nigeria), Allysha Chapman (Canada), Nichelle Prince (Canada), Sophie Schmidt (Canada), Maria Sanchez (Mexico), Michaela Abam (Cameroon)
Kansas City Current - Out: Lynn Williams (right leg - season-ending injury), Sam Mewis (right leg), Chloe Logarzo (right leg), Mallory Weber (right knee - season-ending injury), Jenna Winebrenner (left leg); International Duty: Desiree Scott (Canada), Sydney Schneider (Jamaica)