A week after Houston Dash head coach put pressure on his team by calling their last match against Boston a “must-win”, nothing has changed. Nearly all of the teams that Houston is chasing won over the weekend, leaving the Dash in the same position they were in prior to the win over Boston.
Washington is one of those teams. The Spirit recorded an important 1-0 win over Western New York to move up into 3rd place. They are 10 points ahead of Houston heading into this match. A win, and the Dash cut the gap to 7. A loss, and the 13 point gap becomes practically insurmountable with only 7 matches remaining.
Date: July 17, 2014
Time: 8pm CST
Location: BBVA Compass Stadium (aka the Oven)
Television: CSN Plus
Live Stream: YouTube
Washington Spirit (8-7-2), 26 points, 3rd place
Washington has recorded two wins over Houston this season by a total of two goals, including a winning goal in stoppage time the first time these teams met. The matches have been close, but the Spirit have 6 points to show for their efforts which makes all the difference in the standings.
Washington has given two different looks to the Dash this season. When the teams met on Washington’s home turf, the Dash saw a possession based style of play with the ball moving through the midfield.
On June 28th, Washington played a much more direct style against the Dash. Utilizing the speed of forwards Jodie Taylor and Lisa De Vanna, the Spirit tried to get behind the Dash’s high back line with a healthy dose of long balls.
While it did not make for a particularly attractive style of play, the Spirit got a lot of joy out of their efforts and might easily have gotten more than the one goal if not for some excellent goal keeping from Erin McLeod.
The Dash will most likely see a similar direct approach from Washington this time around. With the quality of midfielders that the Spirit have, the Dash will need to close down the ball more quickly than they did in the last match. Allowing the likes of Christine Nairn and Diana Matheson the time to pick out the right long ball is inviting trouble.
Houston Dash (5-10-1), 16 points, 7th place
Waldrum has emphasized to the team that this is another “must win” situation this week. The Dash will have to get it done despite a number of injuries. Teresa Noyola remains sidelined with her achilles issue, Ella Masar is out following the concussion she sustained against Boston last week, Ari Romero will not start due to injury and Whitney Engen will be a game time decision.
The good news is Melissa Henderson has had three days to practice with the team after an impressive debut. More importantly, the chemistry that was so evident on the pitch between Henderson and Kealia Ohai has continued to grow. The pair clearly compliment each other well and enjoy playing together.
With injuries in the back line, it is likely that Meghan Klingenberg will start at right back with Stephanie Ochs on the left side. If Engen cannot go, it will be Marissa Diggs taking her place in the middle alongside Osinachi Ohale.
The key for the Dash in this match will be the midfield. The starting trio (likely to be Becky Edwards, Kaylyn Kyle and Jordan Jackson) needs to do a better job of holding on to possession and closing down the opposition when the ball changes hands.
The Dash are have some momentum and are keen to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Spirit. The third time is the charm, Dash win 2-1.
Washington Spirit: Caroline Miller (out), Toni Pressley (out), Tiffany Weimer (out), Victoria Huster (out)
Houston Dash: Brittany Bock (out), Lauren Sesselmann (out), Teresa Noyola (out), Ella Masar (out), Ari Romero (questionable), Whitney Engen (questionable), Bianca Henninger (probable)
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Tags: Houston Dash