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Dash back home looking to return to winning ways: What to watch for

The Dash are looking to get back on track after losing in San Diego last weekend.

NWSL Archive: Washington Spirit v Houston Dash Wilf Thorne/ via Imagn

The Houston Dash are back home tonight, looking to get back to winning ways after seeing their unbeaten run end last weekend. Houston fell 3-1 to San Diego Wave FC on the road last Saturday night. The Washington Spirit are tonight’s opponent for the Dash, and the visitors have not played a NWSL match since August 10, a 2-1 loss to the Portland Thorns

Wary of Washington

The Washington Spirit are currently in 11th in the NWSL standings with just one win on the year. They recently relievwed head coach Kris Ward of his duties and this may look like a match the Dash come into and win easily. All of that being said, the Spirit can’t be overlooked. Washington has some stars with the likes of Trinity Rodman, Ashley Sanchez, and Ashley Hatch. The Spirit have struggled this season, but anything can happen in NWSL, especially when you have the caliber of players Washington does. They did win the league last year for a reason.

Make it a battle

The Dash are still tied for first in the NWSL standings with San Diego and Portland, after the Thorns lost to North Carolina Wednesday. San Diego and Portland play each other later tonight so this match is a big chance for Houston to pick up valuable points in their quest for the team’s first playoff berth. Midfielder Marisa Viggiano talked this week about how the team works hard and battles for everything on the field. “We have foundational values that we as players and staff want to uphold daily, and those are non-negotiables that you’ll see throughout the year,” Viggiano said on Thursday. “As we progress through the year, we are turning into a gritty, blue-collared team who will make it difficult for teams to score on us. It’s going to make it a battle every time we are out on the field. It’s a fun identity to be a part of. It’s something that we can continue to grow, and the players that play here, hopefully, they can understand that and be a part of that.”

More new faces

The Dash have added a number of new players during this season, the latest being Valérie Gauvin and Tiernny Wiltshire this week. Gauvin and Wiltshire are both attacking players that will add to an already dynamic Houston attack. Interim head coach Juan Carlos Amorós spoke in his weekly press conference about what the two newest additions bring to the team. “Tiernny (Wiltshire) is a player that can play in a few positions, she came on trial and she impressed us, Amorós said Thursday. “We know of her ability because we’ve been following her with the Jamaican National Team, a national team that we follow closely. After all, they are an up-and-coming country with a lot of talent. She was someone that came and had the commitment, attitude, and performance throughout the time out there with us. It made up believe that she could be someone who could play in the NWSL. I want to wish her all the best because she is a fantastic player that can bring a lot of athleticism. She’s a solid defender in 1v1 situations, she hard to beat because she’s swift. With Valérie, it’s a player that I know well from my time at Tottenham Hotspur. We competed against her; we studied her because she played for Everton. She was one of the forwards that was playing a lot of games for France in the World Cup that was played in France, so we know she’s a player that can bring a lot of chances in the box, and she can be a deadly player. We can create chances for her, she can bring players into play, and it’s completely opposite to Ebony Salmon. They can be complementary of each other, or they can be like supplemental of each other and rotate in the opposition.”`

Availability Report

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), Allysha Chapman (right thigh)

Washington Spirit – Out: Tori Huster (left lower leg - season-ending injury), Emily Sonnett (foot - season-ending injury), Julia Roddar (knee), Kelley O’Hara (hip)