Dash 1, Reign FC 1

5 kicks from Dash vs. Reign FC

Dash forward Nichelle Prince (center) scored in the 10th minute against Reign FC. (Photo by Jose Castenanos)

The Houston Dash opened their sixth professional season in the National Women's Soccer League with a 1-1 home draw against Regin FC on Sunday. Canadian National Team forward Nichelle Prince scored the lone goal for the Dash while U.S. National Team Goalkeeper Jane Campbell saved a penalty attempt in stoppage time.

Here are five observations from the win:

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dash vs. Reign FC | April 14, 2019 www.youtube.com

1) Welcome to the Clarkson era

Head Coach James Clarkson made his debut as a manager in the women's game. He was named the third head coach in club history after being announced to the role last December. Sunday was the first real test for the team, being that it was their first competitive match and one against a professional team.

The Dash had some good chances, enough to win this match at least, and have only themselves to blame for the dropped points. True, Reign FC is a more seasoned team with a two-time NWSL Championship winning coach but they were beatable on the day. Given that players are still adjusting to a new coaching staff, Clarkson gets a pass here for the result. Going forward, however, these are the types of games that have to be won if the club wants to even entertain qualifying to their first NWSL playoffs.

2) Prince pounces on mistake

Canadian forward Nichelle Prince won the battle against Reign defender Theresa Nielsen, dispossessing her to score in the 10th minute. The 24-year-old from Ajax, Ontario, Canada was a nuisance for the defense for a large part of the game and provided a good outlet for the attack in transition. The ability to create her own opportunity turned into the team's only goal on the day. She will be a player to keep an eye on not only for the Dash but for Canada at this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.

3) Campbell saves the day

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell had a fairly solid day in goal. Other than the deflected shot that put the Reign on the scoreboard in the 58th minute, there wasn't much that she couldn't handle. In the waning minutes of the match, however, she was careless with a back pass that ended in her conceding a stoppage time penalty (she apologized for the play after the match). In the end, she stayed a hero by blocking the penalty and securing the point for the home team.

4) Brooks plays in 100th NWSL match

Only 21 players had featured in 100 NWSL matches until Sunday. Amber Brooks became the 22nd player to reach that milestone, coincidentally her jersey number is no. 22. The club's Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 has become one of the key figures on the team since her arrival in 2016. Another coincidence was that she reached the accomplishment against Reign FC, the team she played for before coming to Houston. Brooks continues to add to her resume which also includes playing in Europe with FC Bayern Munich and in Australia, this past offseason, with Adelaide United.

5) Lowest turnout for a home opener

If you've read my "5 Kicks" after Houston Dynamo games, you've read plenty about the dwindling attendance at the matches for the men. Unfortunately, due to the Dash getting a fraction of the Dynamo's resources despite sharing the same ownership group, it's an even more uphill battle on the women's side. The match hardly had any marketing dollars behind it and the attendance figures reflect that.

2014 - 8,097 on April 12 vs. Portland Thorns (L 0-1)

2015 - 6,012 on April 10 vs. Washington Spirit (W 2-0)

2016 - 7,440 on April 16 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 3-1)

2017 - 4,484 on April 15 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 2-0)

2018 - 5,846 on March 25 vs. Chicago Red Stars (T 1-1)

2019 - 4,335 on April 14 vs. Reign FC (T 1-1)

The drop in the home opener comes a year after Dynamo/Dash Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer David Brady shared a three-year attendance plan with the Houston Business Journal - one that aims for the club to double their numbers by next season.

Dash player of the game: Nichelle Prince

The Dash don't come away with a point, or have a chance at three, if not for Prince's efforts that put the team on the scoreboard.

Next up:

Saturday, April 20th at Sky Blue FC (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

ELIS INJURED IN COMEBACK WIN

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over D.C. United

Credit Trask Smith/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo withstood Wayne Rooney's D.C. United plus an injury to star player Alberth Elis on their way to their seventh win of the season. El Campo native Memo Rodriguez and off-season signing Thomas McNamara scored in the 67th and 68th minutes, respectively, to lead the club to a comeback victory.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Call it a comeback

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United | May 18, 2019 youtu.be

Both the Dynamo and D.C. United were undefeated this season in matches where they took the lead first. Houston's record was 1-1-2 when giving up the first goal.

On Saturday night, they didn't need to rely on the advantage of opening up the scoreline. Wayne Rooney scored the match's first goal right after the start of the second half before the Dynamo turned on the pressure in attack.

Perhaps the most impressing part of the result was doing it without the wide threats of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto on the field. Instead it was their substitutes, coincidentally, that drove home the victory.

2) Winning without Elis

Alberth Elis took a headbutt to the side of his skull at the start of the match when he and D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum jumped to dispute a ball in the air. Both players were taken out to the sidelines to get checked, Birnbaum had his head taped after bleeding, and were eventually allowed to return.

It would be minutes later that Elis asked for his substitution, which came in the 11th minute, and was subsequently taken to the locker room for a further evaluation. Despite passing the MLS concussion protocol, the Honduran playmaker wasn't well enough to continue the match.

Elis has been the most influential player for the team this season and a win without him will be a confidence booster. The big question now will be how long the team will be without one their most important contributors.

3) Memo leads the way

An inspired Memo Rodriguez was key to the Dynamo overturning the deficit at home, helping the team avoid a three-match winless streak. The homegrown midfielder took the responsibility of providing a spark in attack by creating his own shooting opportunity.

His goal in the 67th minute injected energy into the crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium and into his team. The Dynamo quickly went for another score and got it just a minute later.

With five goals and two assists, Rodriguez is enjoying his best season for the club. He'll likely pass his career high for minutes played in one season during the first half of the following match - eight games sooner than what it took him to reach that mark last year.

4) A win for Maynor

Defender Maynor Figueroa missed Saturday's match due to his father's passing on Wednesday night. The Honduran defender was on the field for the Dynamo against Timbers FC when the news broke in his home country.

The club showed solidarity with the seven-year Premier League veteran by dedicating the match to him in their pregame team photo. Figueroa joined the team in the off-season after three years at rival FC Dallas and has appeared in the majority of the Dynamo starting lineups this year.

Alejandro Fuenmayor took Figueroa's place in Saturday's starting XI and is expected to continue until Figueroa's return. The Dynamo have two league games left before this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, a tournament Figueroa is expected to feature in for Honduras.

5) Rooney draws crowd but no sellout

Manchester United and England National Team Legend Wayne Rooney was in town with D.C. United. His appearance, unfortunately for the Dynamo, did very little for the gate in comparison to the visits of other league draws like LA's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Several Manchester United jerseys were seen in what was announced to be a crowd of 15,811 attendees at the 22,000 capacity stadium. That number is only the third highest crowd seen this year after the opening match and the derby against FC Dallas.

The three-time World Cup veteran and former UEFA Champions League winner held up his end with a goal in the 46th minute and, despite the loss, has helped D.C. to a top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Still, hope is bleak if a player of his stature has that little effect on the overall Houston soccer market - if they even knew he was in town.

Dynamo player of the game: Memo Rodriguez

Next up:

Saturday, May 25 at Minnesota United FC (7:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57) [ESPN+ for U.S. non-Houston markets]

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