Houston Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod. Mandatory Credit: Hal Kaiser

Houston Dash: Despite a Lack of Goals & Points, Morale High

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Despite the fact that their inaugural season is not proceeding quite as well as hoped, the Houston Dash remain focused and positive heading into today’s match against FC Kansas City.

Six matches into the season, the Dash have recorded only one win; a 3-2 comeback victory on the road at Boston Breakers in their second match of the season. Their other five matches have resulted in losses, but more importantly in clean sheets for their opponents.

The Dash have generated no shortage of opportunities. According to NWSL stats, they have recorded twenty-two shots on goal this season. They have missed one penalty. They have outplayed the defending champion Portland Thorns FC twice. They gave the undefeated Seattle Reign FC one of their toughest matches to date. The luck simply has not gone their way.

With poor results stacking up, some teams might begin to feel sorry for themselves and fall into a bit of a death spiral. The opposite appears to be true with the Dash following a week of focused and intense training that culminated with an intrasquad scrimmage on Friday that had all the intensity of a regular season match.

After the completion of Friday afternoon’s practice, goalkeeper and team captain Erin McLeod talked about the mood of the team,

The way that I look at it is that we are an expansion team and in order to compete in this league, we basically have to do twice as much as everyone else to really compete. The great thing about this team is we are willing to do it.

Coming off a performance like the one against Portland in mid-week, McLeod and the team are confident in the work they are doing on and off the field and believe that if they stick to what they are doing right now, the points will come:

We’ve just been putting a lot of work in off the field; more attention to details and tactics. I think we are really proud of the way that we played (against Portland). A lot of benchmarks in the game, like pass completion – things that we really wanted to accomplish – and we did all those things.

Portland is one of the best teams in the league.So for us because we are young it is just about being consistent, so if we can play like that every game I think halfway through the season things will look very different.

McLeod offered her thoughts heading into the rematch today with FC Kansas City, the side that handed the Dash their worst loss of the season in what was generally regarded as the only truly poor performance by the team this season:

We were really devastated by the KC loss. We’ve lost a couple of other times this year, but they were tight and we are learning a lot of things and the time we played KC we just didn’t have a lot of fight.

I’m just excited to have another chance to play a quality team – I think they’re one of the best if not the best in the league. For us to play like we did last time (against Portland) building on our performance but also rising to the challenge instead of what happened last time.

There were clear signs of improvement and reason for optimism in the match against Portland, as noted by our Leopold Ponce earlier this week. The midfield was much better; Kaylyn Kyle was dangerous in the attack and Jordan Jackson continues to get in good goal scoring positions; eventually she will begin to convert some of those opportunities. 

Nina Burger, in only her second NWSL appearance, showed a bit of what she will bring to the club. She was creative in her runs and passing and generally looked dangerous. As familiarity grows between Burger and the players around her, she will become not only a goal scorer but also a creator of goals for her teammates.

Still, the team is clearly beginning to feel the pressure to get a result. As McLeod commented on Friday:

People have been really patient, but at the same time people want to win. I think we need one right now, you know, just for the group to show the group that all the work we are doing is actually paying off; but, yeah, I think it will come.

Coach Randy Waldrum had similar comments on Friday:

We need to go find a way to get points. We just gotta start doing that. We will have to prepare against the opposition but we will have to get better at what we’re not good at right now.

In the meantime, Waldrum remains focused on developing the the team around his system with the confidence that growing familiarity and chemistry will win out:

We gotta keep true to what we are trying to do and keep the faith that it is going to pay dividends.

The quest to get a result continues today at 5pm CST at FC Kansas City.

For the latest on the Houston Dash roster, including the status of international team call-ups, click here.

For the preview of the match against FC Kansas City, click here.

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