Dash 1, Sky Blue 0
5 kicks from Houston Dash at Sky Blue FC
The Houston Dash came away with a 1-0 win in New Jersey to pick up their first win of the season. Midfielder Sofia Huerta scored the game's lone goal in the 83rd minute, her first of the year.
Here are five observations from the win:
Highlights: Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash | April 20, 2019 www.youtube.com
1) First win for Clarkson
One week after opening the season with a 1-1 draw at home, the Dash came out and responded with a win on the road. The result gives them a winning record to start the season but also the first W under first year Head Coach James Clarkson.
The win is great to put a bow on a new season and reinforce belief that the Dash may finally be trending upwards compared to previous years. The work the team put in should be commended because it's a win that stemmed from persistence. Sky Blue wasn't exactly a great test so the next match against North Carolina will be a better indicator of the level the Dash are currently performing at.
2) Huerta nets her first of 2019
Sofia Huerta deserves as much praise over the result because it was her goal that broke the deadlock. The Dash had plenty of opportunities to get on the board but none of the forwards could break through the Sky Blue defense.
Huerta was able to power a shot home in the 83rd minute, albeit deflected, to secure the game-winner. Responsible for five goals and four assists after joining the club in mid-2018, Huerta is a key piece of the Dash attack.
3) Second match, second pk conceded
One of the negatives to pull from this match is the penalty kick conceded by the defense, the second pk in as many weeks. This week it happened in the 26th minute rather than at the ending moments of the game.
Defender Amber Brooks, as she did the previous week, did her best to prolong the kick and stretch time. The in-game mind games may have done the trick as two-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year Carli Lloyd sent her attempt wide and missed. Going forward, however, the Dash will want to make it a habit not to concede a penalty a week.
4) Kristie Mewis returns from ACL tear
Kristie Mewis returns to game action 10 months after ACL injury www.youtube.com
Kristie Mewis was one of the team's better players to start last season but was sidelined in late May after suffering an ACL tear. After 10 months of rehab, she picked up her first minutes on the field by entering Saturday's match in the 62nd minute.
"We still have so much to work on," said Mewis after the win. A versatile player who can play in defence and midfield, Mewis' return not only adds depth but a reliable player - whether Clarkson chooses to incorporate her into the starting XI or slowly ease her in with more substitute appearances.
5) Nairn passes 10,000 minutes
Midfielder Christine Nairn has played in the league since its founding in 2013 and she surpassed the 10,000 mark in minutes played on Saturday - the fifth player to reach that milestone (H/T @KeeperNotes). She was acquired by the Dash in the offseason in a trade with Orlando Pride.
Nairn's experience speaks for itself and her addition to the club is another reason to the optimism that the team may finally reach the NWSL playoffs.
Dash player of the game: Sofia Huerta
Sunday, April 28th vs. North Carolina Courage (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)