Yesterday afternoon the Houston Dash announced the signing of Kelly McFarlane, bringing the available active roster up to the maximum twenty players for the first time this season. McFarlane is a product of the University of North Carolina and a former teammate of the Dash’s Kealia Ohai.
McFarlane was a trialist with the Dash earlier this season but returned to the University of North Carolina to finish her degree in Health Policy and Management.
Several weeks ago Dash Coach Randy Waldrum informed Orange in the Oven that a trialist would be rejoining the Dash following completion of school; McFarlane seemed like one of the likely candidates.
With the McFarlane signing, the active roster now looks like roughly like this, noting that a number of players are flexible to play in multiple positions:
Goalkeeper (2) - Erin McLeod, Bianca Henninger
Defense (5) - Ari Romero, Holly Hein, Osinachi Ohale, Kika Toulouse, Marissa Diggs
Midfield (6) - Becky Edwards, Kaylyn Kyle, Teresa Noyola, Jordan Jackson, Dominique Richardson, Kelly McFarlane
Forward (7) - Ella Masar, Nina Burger, Kealia Ohai, Tiffany McCarty, Rafa Souza, Stephanie Ochs, Lindsay Elston
Not yet a part of the active roster but due to join the team soon are U.S. Women’s National Team players Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg. The pair will compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final on May 22nd for their current club, Tyresö.
Following the final and expiration of their contracts with Tyresö, the American defenders will become available to join the Dash. When last we spoke with Coach Waldrum on the topic, he expected they would arrive on June 2nd but hoped to be able to get them in a couple of days earlier than that.
Engen and Klingenberg would take the roster to twenty-two, two over the upper limit under NWSL rules. Barring injuries, the Dash would have to make some roster decisions.
The timing of those roster decisions may not be immediate, however due to national team call-ups. Ohale was expected to be the first to leave for national duty with Nigeria in African Women’s Championship qualification. Nigeria plays Rwanda on May 24th with the return leg in Lagos somewhere between June 6-8.
The Dash made a request to the Nigerian Football Federation (“NFF”) to allow Ohale to depart after the FC Kansas City match this Sunday and to return to the team in between the two Nigeria matches. The NFF never responded directly to the Dash.
Ohale’s status remained unclear up until the past few days when the NFF apparently realized that airline ticket prices from Houston had risen to a level where they decided to excuse her participation in the matches so she will remain with the Dash.
Nina Burger, however, is expected to head overseas for national team duty during the month of June. Austria has World Cup qualifiers on June 14th against Finland and June 19th against Kazakhstan.
The U.S. Women’s National Team also has World Cup Qualifiers on the 14th and 19th of June, so Engen and Klingenberg will be away for those dates.
The Dash face FC Kansas City on June 14th but their next match after that is not until June 21st. It is unlikely that Burger would play on the 21st given the travel distance and time change, but Engen and Klingenberg likely would be available.
Still a part of the team but not in the active roster of twenty due to injury are: Brittany Bock, who is out with a torn ACL but has remained in Houston to train and rehab with the team, and Lauren Sesselmann who is also out with a torn ACL but is rehabbing elsewhere.
Aya Sameshima, the Japanese international who is often a source of fan questions, is in Japan rehabbing from her torn meniscus. She was in Houston today picking up a few things from her host family and is approximately a month away from returning to fitness.
Her status with the team is not entirely clear, however we are told that if Sameshima is healthy enough to play prior to the end of this season, the Dash will assess their needs and make a decision as to whether to bring her back or not. Otherwise, she could rejoin the team next season although there is no guarantee that this will happen.
There are now three players who are practicing with the team as reserves and available to be called up if needed. They are goalkeepers Haley Carter (who is also a writer for Orange in the Oven) and Megan Kinneman. Tori McCombs, who just finished up school at the University of Michigan, has joined the team today as a reserve player.
Somewhere in between late May and mid June, the Dash will have to make a decision on two players unless injuries make the decision for them. Whether that means trading players or moving them to reserve status with the team remains to be seen.
For now, the players can only focus on the task at hand and continue to try to get results and push the Dash back up the NWSL table.
On Friday afternoon, the Dash made their first roster move to clear space by announcing that Dominique Richardson was released from the team. Richardson came to the team via try-outs and made two appearances for the Dash including one start. The depth in midfield with the Kyle trade and the McFarlane signing as well as McCombs training with the team made Richardson expendable.
With national team call-ups, it may be a few more weeks until the next move is made.
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