The Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars battled in Bridgeview, Illinois in a game with plenty of playoff implications. Houston picked up their first ever win in Chicago behind Ebony Salmon’s goal and vaulted to first place in the NWSL standings. The Dash now have 33 points with two matches remaning, and lead 7th place Angel City by seven points at the full time whistle.
Ebony Salmon gave the Dash a first half lead in the 25th minute. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell started the attack with a long ball down the Dash right side. Maria Sanchez flicked a header into the path of Nichelle Prince and she took off into the space. Prince found the run of Salmon in the middle of the field and the Houston striker beat Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to the back post after a slight deflection off a Red Stars defender.
Houston played a very aggresive match, especialy against Chicago star Mal Pugh. Both Dash center backs were on yellow cards for long stretches of the match as Pugh continued to test them with pace and dizzying runs. Pugh went close on a number of occasions and nearly got Katie Naughton or Ally Prisock sent off. Houston picked up a total of five yellow cards on the night.
The Dash’s best chance for a second goal came in the 70th minute. Salmon did well to beat a defender one on one and got to the end line. Her cross fizzed in to the feet of Prince but she couldn’t keep her flicked effort on target.
Houston killed the game off masterfully in the second half with substitutes Michelle Alozie, Elizabeth Eddy, and Natalie Jacobs all keeping possession deep in Chicago’s half. Campbell clutched a last gasp long ball from Chicago as the final whistle blew and moved the Dash to the top of the table.
The win gives Houston a club record, and league best, six wins on the road. The Dash control their own destiny with their first playoff appearance getting closer and closer to reality. The Dash return home next weekend, in another match with big playoff implications, when they host OL Reign on Saturday, September 24 at PNC Stadium.