Just days away from the start of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, the Houston Dash announced the roster to begin the 2022 season under the guidance of head coach James Clarkson. Since taking charge of this team in December of 2019, he has molded and shaped this team into ones of good character first and excellent soccer players next. With the beginning of the 2022 season about to commence, he may have assembled his best team yet. Here is a look at the strength of each position.
Goalkeeper - Jane Campbell, Lindsay Harris, Ella Dederick
Any goalkeeping group that includes Jane Campbell one of if not the best keeper in the world is going to turn out pretty good. One of the nice things about Campbell is that when she is gone for international duty, the remaining keepers are pretty good in their own right. Lindsay Harris, the dedicated number two for Houston could be a number one elsewhere. In the prime of her career at age 28 and with 67 professional appearances between the pipes the former Austin Westlake grad gives Houston that peace of knowing when Campbell is called away, the nets are in good hands.
Ella Dederick was Houston's Christmas present to itself on December 22, 2021. The cost was minimal requiring just a natural third round pick in 2023. Dederick is the Washington University career leader in wins, and games played gives Houston a backup that is ready when called.
Defense - Michelle Alozie, Julia Ashley, Allysha Chapman, Haley Hanson, Katie Naughton, Annika Schmidt, Sophie Schmidt
The Houston defense is perhaps the best in Dash history. With a defense anchored by Katie Naughton and Allysha Chapman, Clarkson made a move that may define the season when he moved midfielder Sophie Schmidt from midfield to the backline. The move gives the backline an offense minded player who knows how to play defense and and also when to attack. This will only help the Houston counters in 2022. Add in any of the remaining defenders and Houston is set to make the biggest strides on defense then they have in a decade.
Midfield - Hannah Diaz, Elizabeth Eddy, Cali Farquharson (COE) Shea Groom, Makamae Gomera-Stevens, Kelcie Hedge, Emily Ogle, Marisa Viggiano, Bri Visalli
Although only a handful of these players will receive significant playing time with the starting XI, each is key to the the Dash controlling the middle of the pitch. All of them will be needed most when players are called to international duty. This is one reason why Clarkson has chosen who he has. He knows that they are good players of good character and will deliver when called. As with each position, the Houston Dash have players who could be starters elsewhere but they belive in the identity, the culture and the team that they are here and not elsewhere.
Forwards - Michaela Abam, Joelle Anderson, Rachel Daly (INTL), Ryan Gareis (CDP), Paulina Gramaglia (INTL), Nichelle Prince, María Sánchez
Like each of the previous positions discussed, the forwards could also be called the strength of the team. There is no compare to forward and English international Rachel Daly but it is nice to know that if Daly or Prince or Sanchez are called away, each of the remaining are strong offensive threats in their own right. This should be comforting to a fanbase that has watched as the team has stumbled and bumbled in past years when the starters have been gone for duty or by injury.
The Houston Dash are set to claim their spot as a perennial powers in the NWSL. Clarkson has built a team that believes in team. He has built a team that believes in the cliche that the name on the front means more then the name on the back. He has built a team that believes they can win every time they step on the pitch. Watch out for this team.