Credit: Nigel Brooks

Houston Dash vs Portland Thorns FC: Post-Game Thoughts and Analysis

The Houston Dash entered the game against Portland looking for their first ever home goal and victory. While they may have not been successful at accomplishing either of those objectives, it was not all bad in BBVA Compass Stadium.

The Dash midfield looked as if it has finally gotten some chemistry, and Kaylyn Kyle looked way better offensively than in her previous two starts and much better than in her home debut. Houston’s defense was also very solid against a Thorns’ offense that is great at picking out weaknesses in the defense. For now let’s look at some “stars of the game” and some less-than-stellar performances.

Stars of the Game

Jordan Jackson: Even though the Houston Dash failed to score. Jackson looked extremely dangerous when she got forward into the attack. Her ability to be that bridge between the midfield and the forwards was one of the highlights of the game. She was not afraid to take on defenders in order to get into position for a pass to one of the forwards, or try to open up space for herself to attack the goal.

Jackson’s determination was shown after taking a hard hit early in the game, but recovering and finishing up the game even better than before the hit.

Stephanie Ochs: I am Ari Romero’s number one fan! Romero is usually the defender of the game for me and I am always amazed at her performances, which makes it mean so much more that I am actually choosing Ochs as the highlight of the defense. Particularly given that prior to this match, Ochs has been used as a forward only. She was not as flashy as Romero, but she was just as effective.

Holly Hein was constantly getting burned on her flank, and if it hadn’t been for Stephanie’s ability to cover up for Hein’s lack of pace the Dash would have probably conceded a couple of more goals.

Nina Burger: She’s new to this team, right? I’m just making sure, because she looked just as comfortable in our attack as the other forwards. Burger’s ability to read runs and pull defenders away from other forwards is a feat to marvel at. Her technical ability is so dangerous that it draws defenders towards her in a panic. All she does after that is wait for a moment of hesitation from one of those defenders, and she either cuts towards goal or makes a pass to an open striker for a scoring opportunity.

I’m excited to see how she gels with the team after a few more games and practices.

Less-Than-Stellar

Holly Hein: At the tail-end of a game it is not uncommon to see defenders get burned by fresh forwards. However, this should not be happening at the beginning of a game. Hein was constantly getting passed by Thorns’ players during their attacks. This could not have been happening due to her lack of stamina, because not only was the game just beginning when this issue became apparent.

She was capable of making some runs later in the game. It was more due to the fact that she was incapable of reading plays and getting into position to mark players. In fairness to her she has been struggling with knee pain and this could have been the cause of her issues with pace.

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Kaylyn Kyle: I almost feel compelled to insert her as a “star of the game” and in this category, however her missed penalty and lack of defensive showing warrants her being included here. While offensively she may have had a stellar performance, she left far too much to be desired on defense. Early in the game it became apparent that she was not willing to pressure up high.

Often times after Houston lost the ball on offense instead of Kyle applying pressure to get a quick turnover; she instead elected to either get back into her position on the mid or apply pressure lightly. The pressure she did apply was so light she gave up way more than enough space for a Thorns player to make a long pass or dribble the ball down the flank. However, after the Dash conceded the goal she became better defensively. It should have not taken that to get her out of her defensive slump.

Kealia Ohai: In a game that had no goals by the Houston Dash, it would be impossible to not name at least a forward to this category. Ohai was the first ever player drafted by Houston, and the fact that she is a forward has only upped expectations of her. However, she has not scored a single goal all season, and in a game that seemed perfect for her to score she failed to do so.

When Ohai came into the game at the 55th minute, she was inserted as a fresh player against defenders that had already played a hectic first half. Ohai still could not get into position to score from a cross or force Thorns’ keeper Nadine Angerer to make some stops.

Player of the Match

Erin McLeod: After some negativity let’s highlight a player who has gotten us to fall in love with the Houston Dash game after game. There’s a running joke that I have with a friend. We often times call Erin McLeod, “Patricia Onstad”; that is the female version of the name Patrick Onstad.

Onstad was the first goalkeeper that Houston Dynamo had the honor of having in their squad. He was a Canadian national team player, much like McLeod, and was regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers in the league, yet again like McLeod. Both of these goalkeepers have gotten the City of Houston to truly appreciate the position that they hold on the field.

Erin had yet another amazing game on Wednesday night against Portland. She chose the perfect moments to leave the net and charge at players to prevent them from scoring. Not only that but she constantly made saves that kept Houston from conceding in the first half, which was the first time in their history they had not done so. The only time that Portland was able to get on the score sheet was after McLeod made a couple of stops, but her defenders were unable to clear the ball.

That single blemish on her score sheet is actually one that should be blamed on the defense and came through no fault of her own. If she is capable of giving us some more performances like these, in the future goalkeepers in Houston will be compared to her.

Parting Thoughts

Houston’s midfield against Kansas City was horrendous. Instead of being the bridge between our offense and defense, it became a turnover machine that allowed Kansas City to score on counters. This was not the case against Portland. The midfield improved drastically and looked to have more offense than our forwards. It still has some work to do in recovering the ball or forcing other teams to turn the ball over, but it showed us a glimpse of the midfield that Houston will need if we are to win more games this season.

On the defensive side, Romero had another good performance, so good that Portland rarely dared to form attacks on her flank. Ohale made a few mistakes but played adequately enough. Ochs did great to cover up for Hein’s mistakes, while still covering her own position. The only weakness in our defense was Hein and Portland quickly realized this by attacking towards her more often.

Our offense has left much to be desire and has only managed to score in one game, thankfully, the one game they scored in was our lone victory. However, Burger and Kyle seem to be a pairing that can eventually lead to some goals. We may have lost and the crowd left with a bitter taste in their mouths after a missed penalty by Kyle, but there were some highlights and glimpses of the team that Coach Randy Waldrum wants to show us on the field.

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Tags: Houston Dash NWSL

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