The Houston Dash returned to the win column in Juan Carlos Amorós’ first game in charge, beating the Chicago Red Stars by a score of 4-1 Saturday night at PNC Stadium. The Red Stars came into the match on a nine-game unbeaten streak but Ebony Salmon stole the show to end their run and give Houston a big three points.
Salmon put the Dash in front after just eleven minutes, pressing the Chicago back line into a turnover. The English striker pressured Chicago defender Zoe Morse all the way back to her goal which pressured goalkeeper Emily Boyd into a bad pass. Boyd’s pass was intercepted by Shea Groom who squared the ball back into the middle to Salmon, whose shot deflected off Amanda Kowalski and into the back of the net.
The goal was Salmon’s first for the Dash after being acquired in a trade at the end of June. It certainly wouldn’t be her last, as Salmon gave the Red Stars’ defense fits the whole match. She nearly doubled her tally on the night after a brilliant solo run, but Boyd came out and made a huge save to keep the match 1-0.
Goalkeeper Lindsey Harris made three saves in the first half including a huge one to deny Ella Stevens in a one-on-one situation. Harris started the match in place of Jane Campbell who was ruled out of the match due to COVID protocols.
Salmon doubled her goal haul and the Dash lead in second half stoppage time. Defender Natalie Jacobs sent a long ball down the right sideline and Salmon outraced everyone to get on the end of it. She wasted no time when she got to the ball, smashing her first touch past Boyd.
Houston came out in the second half still flying and Salmon bagged her hat-trick in the 55th minute. A Chicago corner was cleared and the Red Stars were left out-numbered on the counter. Ryan Gareis flew forward and picked out Salmon with a through ball to unlock the back line. Salmon calmly smashed the ball low and hard past Boyd to score the second hat-trick in Houston Dash history. Nichelle Prince got the first earlier this season, scoring three against the Orlando Pride.
The Dash played extremely well in a match they came into with so many things against them. Campbell and defender Julia Ashley were ruled out due to COVID protocols to add to the six players already out for Houston on international duty. It was also Amorós’ first match in charge after just arriving in town this week to lead trainings. Players like Harris, Gareis, and Jacobs stepped up and had huge performances in a match where team needed them in a big way. 19 year-old Paulina Gramaglia made her Dash debut in the second half of the match, becoming the youngest player to appear in a match for Houston.
Sam Fisher grabbed a goal in the 88th minute to ruin the shutout for the Dash and Harris. The rookie scored her first NWSL goal as she was able to get alone in front of Harris and put Chicago on the board. The disappointment of losing the shutout was short-lived as Joelle Anderson ended the big night for Houston, opening her NWSL account with a goal in stoppage time. Anderson’s shot from the top of the box was on goal and Boyd’s attempt at a save was bundled into the net.
Next up for the Dash will be a trip to the Big Apple to take on NJ/NY Gotham FC on July 31. Houston’s Canadian contingent of Nichelle Prince, Sophie Schmidt, and Allysha Chapman should be available for that game after they wrap up CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying on Monday against the United States.