After eleven matches of the NWSL regular season, the Houston Dash have hit the mid-way point in 2022. The Dash currently sit in 6th place in the NWSL standings, tied with Kansas City, right on the line for making the playoffs.
Many things happened in the first half of the season that no Houston Dash fan could have imagined. Just days before the season began, news came out about an on-going investigation of head coach James Clarkson. Clarkson was placed on leave and fans were left with a number of questions on what was going on and eventually how the team would perform as the season began.
As the season began, all of the following happened
- Sarah Lowdon was appointed acting head coach
- the team went on a 6-game unbeaten streak, the longest in club history
- Nichelle Prince scored the first hat trick in Dash history
- Juan Carlos Amoròs was named interim head coach with Lowdon moving to first assistant (Amoròs first game will be this Saturday ay PNC Stadium against the Chicago Red Stars)
- Ebony Salmon was acquired from Racing Louisville FC for a club record $175k in allocation money and an additional $15k in performance-based incentives
- the team put up the best away record in NWSL this season with 3 wins and 2 draws from their 6 road matches
Let that sink in. This team has gone through so much in a short span of time, and yet the Houston Dash sit in 6th place in the NWSL standings, 6 points away from first place San Diego Wave FC. With 7 players away for international duty and 3 more out for personal reasons and injuries, the upcoming weeks will see the team adapting to Amoròs’ new tactics while pushing the depth of the team as well.
“The biggest thing is it’s going to take time for them to be able to gel,” said Sarah Lowdon after her last game in charge, the defeat at Orlando. “We’re seeing that good things take time and we’ll get there. I have no doubt about that, this group have lots of confidence.”
The Dash have had some great performances this season, notably Prince’s hat trick in the 5-0 win over Orlando and wins at Portland, Kansas City, and North Carolina. Individually, goalkeeper Jane Campbell has had a great first half of the season, making a number of big saves to keep the team in games. Campbell is tied for third in the league with 52 saves (from ASA data) and exudes a ton of confidence for her defenders and for the team. Save after save, she always shines between the goal posts.
No one can forget the front three that has been outstanding for the Dash. Rachel Daly, Maria Sanchez, and Nichelle Prince have combined for 13 goals and 9 assists so far this year. They make teams worry when they press, counterattack, and open space for other players. Sanchez is 6th in NWSL with 26 key passes as she has played several positions this season, including wing back. Daly is 9th in shots on target with 16, even playing much fewer minutes than the other players in the top 10. Prince is 7th in NWSL with 6 goals on an impressive 2.36 expected goals. Finisher.
On the back line, Katie Naughton continues to be a work horse. Naughton ranks 6th in the league with 1660 minutes played. She also completes over 80 percent of her passes and keeps the defense organized. Naughton has grown into a leadership role on this team and her play this season has continued to improve. Wing back Haley Hanson is another player who is developing into a leader on this team. Still 26, Hanson is a veteran on this Dash team. She helps on the defensive end and the team looks to her often to ignite the attack. Hanson has the leads the team with 10.5% of the Dash’s touches.
All in all, this team has what it takes to get into the playoffs for the first time in club history. With Juan Carlos Amoròs experience in the FA Women’s Super League and Primera Division Femenina of Spain, there is a lot to look forward to in the second half of the season. Please join us for the ride and always remember to DASH ON!