Dash 1, Pride 0
5 kicks from Houston Dash vs. Orlando Pride
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
Saturday, May 11 at Utah Royals (2:30 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)