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

Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan addressed questions from fans during the first hour of Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night. Among the topics of conversation were potential player signings, concerns with player development and club operations.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A with callers to the program:

Potential Transfers

On why the Dynamo has not gone after a big name player that can fill BBVA Stadium

We're very open and we have had discussion with "big name players" ... For us, it's about getting the right players and I truly believe, through my experiences, you also have stars that grow within the league. We've seen that with our team with Alberth Elis, with Mauro Manotas - from my time in Montreal, we saw that with Ignacio Piatti. These weren't "big name stars" but they became "big name stars" so we look at all of it. We look at making our own stars, we look at some players that have been on the biggest stages and maybe a bit older but, for us, it's analyzing what's the right fit.

On the suggestion of a player like Mexico National Team Captain Andres Guardado

A lot of fans will say, "bring a big name, a Messi or Ronaldo" and that's not always realistic in the world of soccer but those are the types of profiles we do continue to look at along with making our own stars as well, which I think we've done a good job of with the two players I mentioned, who are stars in the city of Houston now.

On the reports of Cruz Azul's interest in Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas

We're getting interest in a lot of our young talented players. The two players that everyone talks about is Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis, there's also a handful of other players that we get inquiries of from abroad. A lot of the teams in the Mexican league follow our teams very closely and Cruz Azul did express interest in Mauro... [a potential transfer] has to make sense for the player, it has to make sense for the club

Player Development

On the investment in the Houston Dynamo Academy

With the support of our ownership group, over the last 18 months, have made significant investments in the academy. We hired a new academy director in Paul Holocher, we brought on what I believe are some of the brightest young coaches in the Unites States. We've really worked very hard to strengthen our partnerships and our strategic alliances here within the city of Houston, which I believe has really been a downfall of ours in the past.

On the possibility of having a locally-based USL team

We have. One thing I can tell you, we have our USL players, our academy players, our U23 players in and out with the first team all the time. With the Open Cup, we brought up several of our USL players. You'll see a couple of our USL players come up for our League's Cup game as well... of course, it's more ideal to have it next to our first team field but we're very proud of the partnership in the [Rio Grande] Valley.

Club Policies

On the Dynamo's scouting system for recruiting players for the first team...

We do have a scout in Europe that's paid by us, we have a scout in South America that's paid by us and I also have a full-time scout and analyst, here, that is in Houston working with us in our recruitment department.

What we do is we go through the annual scouting calendar, we prioritize what events we need to hit. Generally speaking, I only travel when we get to the point - myself or [Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera] or both of us together, a lot of time we'll travel together in the offseason. We only really travel when we get to [final stages of a transfer].

We use our regional contacts...What I really focus on is having one key contact in each country and, a lot of times, we go after the player, it's not that the player is presented to us by the agent. [Recent signing Jose Bizama] is a prime example, we went after Bizama and we approached the club through our process. Now, there's times where a player is presented to us as well, but more often then not we utilize those regional contacts in each country. There's a lot of times, with many of our players, we've identified them or we've gone after them when they're, maybe, not for sale and that's when the grinding starts to take place for the negotiation.

On the club hosting a town hall meeting with supporters

In this moment, I can't speak for ownership but I have no problem being in any setting and fielding questions about the team for the fans.

---

The entire conversation is available on the July 16, 2019 episode of the podcast, which can be heard on iTunes, Google Podcasts and www.podcastarena.com/soccermatters/

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