The Houston Dash are out on the road for a Friday night match up with the Orlando Pride. Houston returned to NWSL play last Friday night, falling to the Kansas City Current 2-1. Orlando last played on Sunday, drawing 2-2 with Racing Louisville in a match played at Daytona International Speedway. The Dash and Pride have met once already this season with Houston winning 5-0 at PNC Stadium on June 3. That win extended Houston’s unbeaten run against Orlando to 10 games spanning four years. Acting head coach Sarah Lowdon remains in charge of the Dash while interim head coach Juan Carlos Amorós awaits his visa.
Losses lead to wins?
Each loss the Dash has had during the regular season this year has been followed by a win. After losing the opening match of the season to San Diego, Houston beat Kansas City to kick off a six-game unbeaten run. That run ended with a loss to Portland but was immediately followed by a road win against North Carolina. Now coming off a loss to KC last week, the Dash will look to keep their streak alive of bouncing right back up and into the win column.
Acting head coach Sarah Lowdon spoke to the media this week about bouncing back after that loss at home last Friday. “I think it was unfortunate that we didn’t come up with any points in that game,” Lowdon said. “For us as a team, it’s all about how you respond. I have no doubt in the character of this team and I know they will respond. We’re looking for three points on the road. We are a lot stronger team right now as an away team and that’s something that we’d love to continue to build upon.”
Forward Ebony Salmon was acquired early last week from Racing Louisville for a club-record amount of money and was put straight into the starting lineup on Friday. With so many players away on international duty, Salmon was needed and will continue to be counted on this month. She had a few good chances against Kansas City that she was unable to put away but look for her to continue to improve as she learns her new teammates and coaching staff.
“It’s hard to come into a team at this point in the season and she’s been able to acclimate really well in the last couple of weeks,” Lowdon said this week about Salmon. “For her, it’s just being able to understand the relationships of the players that she’s playing with right now. Joelle Anderson was in the last game that she was playing with and the relationship with players that are on the outside and underneath as well. Shea Groom was playing in the 10 in the last game and being able to get on the same page and learn in each of those tendencies. I’m just glad we’ve had the training time to be able to create and have some of those relationships get more time together.”
With Rachel Daly, Nichelle Prince, and Maria Sanchez all away with their national teams, the Dash will need to find someone to score goals. Last week’s goal came deep into stoppage time, an own goal from a poor clearance. Salmon will be called on to finish the chances like she had in the last game and the players around her will also need to help. Joelle Anderson, who got her first regular season start last week, Bri Visalli, and Shea Groom will likely be in the lineup again on the offensive end.
With Elizabeth Eddy away with her family, Lowdon mentioned a number of options this week in who could slot in at wing back. “We have some options in the wingback position,” Lowdon said. “We have Ryan Gareis, who is left wing back, we have Natalie Jacobs, who plays wing back, she played in Spain as a wingback. We have Cali (Farquharson) who can play alsowas a wingback. We have options there, that’s the biggest thing is that we’re looking at is in this week is the different options that we can potentially look at. It’s a great opportunity for those players.” Tonight is another big opportunity for several players to step up and get the Dash back on track.
Houston Dash - Out: Annika Schmidt (right knee - season-ending injury), Kelcie Hedge (right knee - season-ending injury), Elizabeth Eddy (excused absence); International Duty: Rachel Daly (England), Michelle Alozie (Nigeria), Allysha Chapman (Canada), Nichelle Prince (Canada), Sophie Schmidt (Canada), Maria Sanchez (Mexico), Michaela Abam (Cameroon)
Orlando Pride – Out: Marta (right knee - season-ending injury), Leah Pruitt (knee), Parker Roberts (ankle), Angharad James (excused absence); International Duty: Gunny Jonsdottir (Iceland); Questionable: Julie Doyle (ankle)