Dash 1, Reign FC 1
5 kicks from Dash vs. Reign FC
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.
Saturday, April 20th at Sky Blue FC (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)