The Houston Dash and Gotham FC meet for a rematch just 17 days after the Dash won 4-2 on the road at Red Bull Arena. What can we expect from this match? Here's a preview.
First, the game on the road against Gotham FC should never have been that close. Houston needs to put this team away early because if you allow a team like Gotham with a minus 18 goal differential to hang around, bad things happen. Houston not only needs to come out on the front foot but they need Ebony Salmon and Nichelle Prince to find the back of the net. This is a game they should win by halftime.
“A quick turnaround, that's probably what you want after a game where I think we should have won," said Dash interimhead coach Juan Carlos Amoros at Tuesday's press conference.." The preparations have been good, players are competing for positions, we are trying to keep building this new Houston Dash. I'm very excited to be at home again on Wednesday night against Gotham in front of our fans. Hopefully this time we can give them those goals and three points that we deserved last Friday.”
Second, be wary of a team that has just changed coaches. As the Dash players will tell you, it brings new energy into the place. Gotham FC named Hue Menzies their interim head coach in the last 72 hours. He led the Jamaican National Team to it's first ever World Cup berth in 2019. With 35 years of soccer coaching and development, you can expect that Gotham FC will come to PNC Stadium with something to prove. It's something the Dash head coach is well aware; the temptation to look beyond their current opponent.
“For us, we take it game-by-game, we take every game as a final," continued Amoros. "We can't be looking any further. At the moment, we have to be focused on this game against Gotham and that's the only way we can be successful, is if we take it game-by-game and we build from there.”
Third, as the Dash head down the final stretch towards their first playoff berth in franchise history, they will need another strong performance from Sophie Schmidt and Katie Naughton. They cannot allow a player like Midge Purce any space to work. Schmidt controlled the play in the offensive third completing 14 passes, six touches inside the 18 with one just barely missing wide in the closing minutes. She also had a team high 14 duels won. Naughton, meanwhile, did her job as a center back in helping keeping Racing Louisville from putting a shot on frame. She had three clearances, and one interception along the way.
Houston looks to extend it's unbeaten streak under interim head coach Juan Carlos Amoros to five games. They are tied for the most wins in the NWSL entering play on Wednesday night and sit just three points back of the league leading Portland Thorns. Portland will not be back in action until August 24th, time enough for Houston to have taken over the top spot.