Dash 1, Pride 0

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)

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo broke a seven-match winless streak with a 2-0 win against Minnesota United FC on Wednesday night at BBVA Stadium. The win is the first at home since July 3 against the New York Red Bulls and the first victory in league play since July 20 at Toronto. The result also marked the first win under Interim Head Coach Davy Arnaud.

Here are five observations from the September 11 result on "First Responders Night."

1) A win long worth the wait

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy but it was a much needed result to break free from a bad spell. More so than ending a seven -match winless streak, it was about the team turning around a stretch that saw them winless in 17 out of their last 20 dating back to May. Yes, the Dynamo began the season undefeated in 7 of their first 8 matches - the best start in franchise history. Cool. Anybody who was being honest in their analysis knew the team benefited from a home-heavy schedule to start the season and that the most challenging part was on its way.

Before the start of Wednesday's match, the club had a record of 2-12-1 (W-L-D) since returning from the Concacaf Gold Cup break. It was a similar summer dismantling to what happened in 2018, except that had makeup applied to it in the form of a U.S. Open Cup title.

After the team's shortcomings failed to be addressed, the team began to head towards its fifth playoff absence in six seasons. What the future holds is still to be seen but at least, for one night, Dynamo supporters were rewarded with the sweet taste of victory.

2) Making the switch to a two-forward formation

The 4-2-3-1 formation that featured two wingers and a lone forward had run it's course. It stopped working for the Dynamo a few games back. Truthfully, it was always a formation meant to favor the two speedy wingers Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. The results were always going to be less favorable once players without the characteristics of Elis and Quioto, i.e. Memo Rodriguez, Tommy McNamara, etc., began to be inserted.

For whatever reasons, Davy Arnaud continued some of the habits of previous manager Wilmer Cabrera. That included playing in the 4-2-3-1. Arnaud had switched to a 4-4-2 during his debut as the interim, where the team came back from 0-2 down to a dramatic 2-2 home draw. He opted not to repeat the two-forward lineup in the two matches after.

Whether being forced by circumstances (the potential sale of Mauro Manotas and the international FIFA break may have played a part), Arnaud finally went to a lineup that placed his two best attackers on the field: Mauro Manotas and Christian Ramirez.

The resulting win may be a coincidence of that change but the Dynamo looked their best under Arnaud's tenure as head coach.

3) Alejandro Fuenmayor features in first MLS match since June

The 23-year-old defender was one of the better additions to the team during the 2017/18 offseason. The Venezuelan even started in 21 of 22 matches, the sixth most starts on the team. This season, he fell out of favor with former manager Wilmer Cabrera and thrown into the doghouse.

Fuenmayor had featured in 429 minutes and five MLS matches prior to the encounter with Minnesota. It was as if he was played out of necessity for lack of other options. In the Leagues Cup match in late July against Liga MX side Club America and on Wednesday night, Fuenmayor showed why he is one of the better players on the roster.

What happened in the past is done. What happens going forward is in the club's control and, given the proof over the last two seasons, Alejandro Fuenmayor has to be part of the team's plan for the future and the present.

4) Joe Willis matches career-high for wins in a season

Goalkeeper Joe Willis has been one of the more solid performers this season despite the blunders everyone remembers from his performances at Cincinnati and at Philadelphia. He's been a workhorse for the Dynamo. With the win against Minnesota, he matched a career-high nine wins in a singular season and could reach double digits before the year is over.

5) Arnaud turns the corner

Time will tell if Davy Arnaud's interim tag will be removed. As of now, he's the leading candidate for the permanent head coaching job. The biggest benefit that was always going to come from him was the union of the locker room. Now with his first win in hand, Arnaud has five matches to prove why he deserves the gig.

Dynamo player of the game: Mauro Manotas

A game-winning goal and an assist for Manotas makes him the Man of the Match. In every period of turmoil throughout his time in Houston, Manotas has been one of the few voices that gives it to you straight and doesn't spit cliches. That's the same personality he goes on the field with and that's why he's one of the league's better goalscorers.

Next match:

Saturday, September 14 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57/TeleXitos 47.2)

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