Dash 1, Pride 0

5 kicks from Houston Dash vs. Orlando Pride

5 kicks from Houston Dash vs. Orlando Pride
The Dash picked up their first win at home this season. Photo by Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos

The Houston Dash picked up their second win of the season with a 1-0 win over the Orlando Pride on Sunday. Forward Kealia Ohai scored the game's only goal in the 7th minute, one that would end up being the match-winning goal.

Here are five observations from the win:

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1) Ohai's stunner

As the Dash continue to find their grove, their scorers have begun to find the back of the net. Ohai's goal opens her account in 2019 to join Nichelle Prince, Sofia Huerta and Rachel Daly on the scorer's standings.

The way she cut inside the box and curled in the game-winner was reminiscent of the Kealia Ohai that won the adoration of Dash fans. She was much more of a protagonist in the front line, at least the most she's been all season.

Goalscorers perform better with confidence and this one will surely carry some over to the next couple of games. The Dash will look to count on that as they aim to better their average of one goal per match.

2) Defense comes up with a home shutout

The Dash defense saw Lindsay Agnew return to the right back spot to form the back four with Polkinghorne, Brooks and Chapman. They held Orlando to zero shots on goal.

Taking in consideration that Orlando is bottom of the table and was without three key players due to the U.S. Women's National Team World Cup preparations, the Dash defense did what was asked of them and saw the game out for the full three points. Also a positive, they showed discipline by not conceding a penalty after doing so for three straight games.

The shutout is the second for the defense this year and first at home this season. Next week they'll face a good test on the road at Utah Royals.

3) Managing injuries

One of the underlying storylines for the Dash is the injury situation saw five players sidelined for this match. Among the players out are Taylor Comeau and Christine Nairn.

Comeau started at right back in the season opener but was injured in training and has been out since. If healthy, it's safe to assume she would still be starting at right back.

Nairn featured in each of the previous games as a defensive midfielder next to Sophie Schmidt. A positive sign for the team was the return of Kristie Mewis who entered the match in the 77th minute - her first appearance since her return from an ACL tear two weeks ago.

4) Winning at home

The Dash improved their record with the win but also jumped up to third with the result, one point behind second place North Carolina and two behind leaders Utah Royals. Only four teams advance to the NWSL Playoffs at the end of the season.

Winning at home is a must if the Dash want to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They don't have to be perfect, in fact they won't be after their loss last week, but they can't let teams come into town and leave unscathed.

The win on Sunday is a good step towards solidifying strength at home. Small steps towards a big goal.

5) Clarkson with best start for a Dash season

James Clarkson is off to the best start for a Dash Head Coach in their first year with the club. The 2-1-1 start has the club near the top of the standings, setting them up to succeed rather than putting the team in a hole.

It's obviously still a small sample size but what can be taken away is the team's upward trend to play better at home and the play of difference makers in Ohai, Huerta and Campbell. The negatives is that the team will be tested as six of Sunday's starters are expected to be absent due to the FIFA Women's World Cup next month.

For now, the team is still in the honeymoon period with Clarkson. Players look to be bought in and unified under the first-year manager and the results are coming in.

Dash player of the game: Kealia Ohai

Next up:

Saturday, May 11 at Utah Royals (2:30 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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