Houston Dash making big moves
By Louis Roesch
The Houston Dash have been making big moves this offseason to build on the success of the last two seasons. The disappointment, especially in 2021, has pushed the envelope for Houston to make moves to ensure 2022 ends in at least a playoff berth. Ever since the insertion of James Clarkson as the team’s head coach, the Dash have consistently grown as a team. The front office has and continues to make a concerted effort to make the Houston Dash a perennial power in the NWSL. This year’s moves signal to the league that Houston is intent on becoming a perennial power.
Last season, the Dash secured some of their biggest names like Rachel Daly and Jane Campbell to new contracts. This offseason the Dash have continued the trend of securing players that they want to continue to be a foundation here in Houston. Midfielder Bri Visali was the clubs latest signing this past week. The English native was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Red Stars but could not find her way on to the pitch. A return to England got her game action with West Ham and Birmingham City and that helped attract the attention of the Houston Dash. She played an integral role in helping Houston to the 2020 inaugural Challenge Cup title. Now she has a home.
Julia Ashley also signed a new contract with the Dash after being acquired in a trade with Louisville Racing FC in December.
In addition to the Ashley acquisition and signing, the Houston Dash also acquired forward Paulina Gramaglia, midfielder Marissa Viggiano, and goalkeeper Ella Dederick. With the resigning of backup keeper Lindsey Harris, the acquisition of Dederick is a look ahead to the future.
Viggiano gives Houston another experienced piece entering the 2022 season. She appeared in 21 matches with 14 starts for the Orlando Pride in 2021.
Gramaglia became the first move by the Houston Dash following the conclusion of the 2021 season. The forward on loan from UAI Urquiza scored nine goals in seven games in Argentina’s top division. The Dash have the option of purchasing her from UAI at the end of the season.
Among all the moves made by Houston this offseason, none loom larger than the signing of forward Maria Sanchez. Sanchez played with the Dash briefly in 2021 before returning to Tigres for their playoff run. Scoring five goals in three games, the Idaho native helped Tigres to the Liga MX final. Her addition gives Houston three bonafide scoring options and that can only be a good thing.
Head coach James Clarkson continues to shape and mold his team with players first of good character and then happen to be good soccer player. Each of these moves since the end of the 2021 season has been designed to produce a winner in 2022.