Dash 1, Sky Blue 0

5 kicks from Houston Dash at Sky Blue FC

Rachel Daly (center) and the Houston Dash picked up their first win of the season in a 1-0 win at Sky Blue FC. (Credit: ISI Photos)

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.

[LISTEN: 4/23 Sofia Huerta joins Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis]

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

Next up:

Sunday, April 28th vs. North Carolina Courage (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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