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Dash head cross-country looking to stop the Reign: What to watch for

The Dash finish their 2 game road-trip in Seattle against OL Reign.

NWSL: Houston Dash at NJ/NY Gotham FC Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dash finish up a two game road trip tonight in Seattle, taking on OL Reign. The Dash are coming off a 4-2 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC. OL Reign drew with Racing Louisville 1-1 on Tuesday night. This will be the first meeting between the two teams in 2022. The Reign and Dash met three times during the regular season and once during the NWSL Challenge Cup in 2021. Houston finished with a 1-2-1 record against the Reign last year in all competitions.

Rach’s return

Dash captain Rachel Daly capped of an amazing month last Sunday, winning the European Championship with England. Daly is still in England and won’t yet be available again for the Dash. Interim head coach Juan Carlos Amorós said in his weekly press conference that he has been in contact with Daly, mostly via text message because of the time difference. Forward Ebony Salmon has picked up the slack, and then some, in Daly’s absence but the young forward is looking forward to playing with her countrywoman. “Obviously Rachel’s (Daly) a big player in this team,” Salmon said this week. “Since I’ve been here, she has been gone. It would be good for her to come back to the team and to add her quality into the team, it’s only going to make us better on the field.”

Goals galore

Sunday’s win in New Jersey was the second straight game the Dash scored four goals in a match, and the third time in their last five games. Ebony Salmon took home NWSL Player of the Month honors for her four goals this month, but the Dash have been able to spread the goal scoring around in their good run of form. Joelle Anderson, Shea Groom, and Sophie Schmidt scored in the last four games. Houston has all those goals recently, and none from the trio of Maria Sanchez, Nichelle Prince, and Daly. When this team is at full strength, it is going to be fun how high the offense can fly.

Have you ever seen the Reign?

With the Dash in search of their first NWSL playoff appearance, Sunday’s match in Seattle is another big test. The Dash and Reign are currently tied for third in the league table with 21 points, and four points behind league leaders Portland Thorns and San Diego Wave FC. So what kind of challenge does the Seattle-based club bring, and has Amorós ever seen the Reign? Of course he has. “We watch every game but for me, they have a very clear style, they know what they do, Amorós told the media on Thursday. “They know how they want to play football games. In this case, they ended up winning and coming out on top. As I said at the beginning, what I really worry about is how our team needs to perform and how our team needs to behave in every situation of the game. Trying to focus on us, we know that they have very good individuals. So do we, but for me this is played with 11v11 and we need to be the best team in order to win.”

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); International Duty: Rachel Daly (England)

OL Reign FC – Out: Angelina (ACL - season-ending injury), Bethany Balcer (illness)