Saturday, April 15, 2017

Houston Dash upend Chicago Red Stars 2-0 to kickoff 2017 NWSL season

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications 

HOUSTON, TEXAS (April 15, 2017) Kealia Ohai picked up where she had left off and scored the first goal of the Houston Dash season, as they downed the Chicago Red Stars by the score of 2-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. On this blistering hot Saturday, April 15, 2017, Ohai drilled the ball cross net from the left side, past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the 15th minute.  They added an insurance goal in the 80th minute when Rachel Daly got her first goal of the season with a floating shot to the far post. Houston and Chicago have played eight times previously since 2014, with the Dash coming out on top just once. That win was a 3-1 victory on April 16, 2016. Houston is now 2-3-4 lifetime against the Red Stars.

The Dash were without the services of midfielder Carli Lloyd, who informed the team earlier in the year she would be joining England’s Manchester City FC for the early part of 2017. She is not scheduled to return to Houston until possibly June. Lloyd was one of five players who scored multiple goals in 2016, leaving the Dash shorthanded on offense for the foreseeable future. The offensive leadership of Houston may be left up to Ohai, who was tied for the NWSL lead in 2016 with 11 goals.  Her goals-plus-assists total of 14 (11 goals plus three assists) in 2016 placed her third in the NWSL behind Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams, with 17 and 16, respectively. Both McDonald and Williams played for the Western New York Flash. They both now play for the North Carolina Courage, which is the rebranded Flash after they were purchased by the North Carolina FC. In 2016, Ohai led the Dash with 11 goals, playing in 20 game. She was followed by Lloyd with 5 points (seven games), Daly (four goals in 16 games, Janine Beckie (three goals in 14 games), and Denise O’Sullivan (two goals in 18 games).

Next up for the Dash will be a three-game road trip beginning on April 22 against the Seattle Reign. They follow that up with stops in Washington (April 29) and Chicago (May 6). They return home on Saturday, May 13 with a 3 p.m. CT matchup against Sky Blue FC.

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