USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter made the rounds

Soccer really does matter - and it could matter even more

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter. Getty Images.

We had the USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter on the show Wednesday morning. What a great guy and get for the show. The U.S. team will be here taking on Chile on March 26. Hopefully it will go better than the last time they were here.

Houston's soccer ambassador Glenn Davis opened a press conference later that day by saying that it was an historic morning. Never before had a Houston sports radio show done three straight segments on soccer. Glenn called me that night and was gushing about how great it was. There may not be a nicer guy in the sports world.

My soccer knowledge is extremely limited and you have to be very careful around soccer guy (not Glenn Davis. He's too nice to be a jerk. I'm talking about soccer snob) because he will light you up if you take the tiniest misstep. Do not call it a field or a game or ever say zero. Soccer snob hates zero. Zero must have done something ugly to his sister because he doesn't want anything to do with zero.

My knowledge of the game is basically 5-year old soccer. My son JT played it then but the other parents asked us to stop bringing him because all he did was run around and knock over the little girls. That is not an exaggeration.

He did grow up on the video game FIFA though and became a huge Cristiano Ronaldo fan so we watched a bunch of Real Madrid games. We also get into the World Cup every four years.

I've been to a few Dynamo games. BBVA is one of our best stadiums. Their first manager Dominic Kinnear was a great guy. He was on the show a bunch and liked to give us the business. Then we had their next manager Owen Coyle on on a weekly basis. His Irish accent was so thick that I couldn't understand anything he said. Our producer Del wrote the questions for me. I'd ask a question then wait until he finished and ask the next. He could have threatened to kill me for all I knew. Couldn't understand a word.

I went and watched our national team play Argentina at NRG a few years ago. That wasn't very exciting. We didn't stand a chance. The difference between the two programs was obvious even to a soccer moron like me. It really wasn't all that surprising that the U.S. didn't qualify for the World Cup. We weren't very good.

And here we are: a new coach and a couple of good young players. Will it make a difference? I hope so. Every four years when the World Cup comes around I hear how soccer is going to take over the States; how baseball and basketball need to step it up or soccer will pass them in popularity. And then the World Cup ends and we're back to watching baseball and basketball again and soccer takes its place in the background.

That the MLS is more or less a second division for soccer doesn't help. We are a major league country. Don't ask us to watch minor league anything. We won't.

We did watch the Dynamo when they were winning titles but they haven't been doing that for a while. They sure could use a star or two. They haven't really had anyone recognizable since Brian Ching. They had a full house for the Tigres game this week. Unfortunately they were mostly all Tigres fans. That's got to change.

A really good U.S. team can change that. We're waiting for soccer to explode here but the only way that's going to happen is if our team makes a deep run in the World Cup. Give us something to cheer about and we will. Soccer guy might not like us all jumping on the bandwagon but I know Glenn Davis won't mind. He works tirelessly to promote the sport he loves in a city that just hasn't been all that receptive lately.

We will be though if Gregg Berhalter just gives us a reason to.

Dash 1, Reign FC 1

5 kicks from Dash vs. Reign FC

Dash forward Nichelle Prince (center) scored in the 10th minute against Reign FC. (Photo by Jose Castenanos)

The Houston Dash opened their sixth professional season in the National Women's Soccer League with a 1-1 home draw against Regin FC on Sunday. Canadian National Team forward Nichelle Prince scored the lone goal for the Dash while U.S. National Team Goalkeeper Jane Campbell saved a penalty attempt in stoppage time.

Here are five observations from the win:

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dash vs. Reign FC | April 14, 2019 www.youtube.com

1) Welcome to the Clarkson era

Head Coach James Clarkson made his debut as a manager in the women's game. He was named the third head coach in club history after being announced to the role last December. Sunday was the first real test for the team, being that it was their first competitive match and one against a professional team.

The Dash had some good chances, enough to win this match at least, and have only themselves to blame for the dropped points. True, Reign FC is a more seasoned team with a two-time NWSL Championship winning coach but they were beatable on the day. Given that players are still adjusting to a new coaching staff, Clarkson gets a pass here for the result. Going forward, however, these are the types of games that have to be won if the club wants to even entertain qualifying to their first NWSL playoffs.

2) Prince pounces on mistake

Canadian forward Nichelle Prince won the battle against Reign defender Theresa Nielsen, dispossessing her to score in the 10th minute. The 24-year-old from Ajax, Ontario, Canada was a nuisance for the defense for a large part of the game and provided a good outlet for the attack in transition. The ability to create her own opportunity turned into the team's only goal on the day. She will be a player to keep an eye on not only for the Dash but for Canada at this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.

3) Campbell saves the day

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell had a fairly solid day in goal. Other than the deflected shot that put the Reign on the scoreboard in the 58th minute, there wasn't much that she couldn't handle. In the waning minutes of the match, however, she was careless with a back pass that ended in her conceding a stoppage time penalty (she apologized for the play after the match). In the end, she stayed a hero by blocking the penalty and securing the point for the home team.

4) Brooks plays in 100th NWSL match

Only 21 players had featured in 100 NWSL matches until Sunday. Amber Brooks became the 22nd player to reach that milestone, coincidentally her jersey number is no. 22. The club's Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 has become one of the key figures on the team since her arrival in 2016. Another coincidence was that she reached the accomplishment against Reign FC, the team she played for before coming to Houston. Brooks continues to add to her resume which also includes playing in Europe with FC Bayern Munich and in Australia, this past offseason, with Adelaide United.

5) Lowest turnout for a home opener

If you've read my "5 Kicks" after Houston Dynamo games, you've read plenty about the dwindling attendance at the matches for the men. Unfortunately, due to the Dash getting a fraction of the Dynamo's resources despite sharing the same ownership group, it's an even more uphill battle on the women's side. The match hardly had any marketing dollars behind it and the attendance figures reflect that.

2014 - 8,097 on April 12 vs. Portland Thorns (L 0-1)

2015 - 6,012 on April 10 vs. Washington Spirit (W 2-0)

2016 - 7,440 on April 16 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 3-1)

2017 - 4,484 on April 15 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 2-0)

2018 - 5,846 on March 25 vs. Chicago Red Stars (T 1-1)

2019 - 4,335 on April 14 vs. Reign FC (T 1-1)

The drop in the home opener comes a year after Dynamo/Dash Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer David Brady shared a three-year attendance plan with the Houston Business Journal - one that aims for the club to double their numbers by next season.

Dash player of the game: Nichelle Prince

The Dash don't come away with a point, or have a chance at three, if not for Prince's efforts that put the team on the scoreboard.

Next up:

Saturday, April 20th at Sky Blue FC (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

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