The Portland Thorns exacted some revenge on the Houston Dash Sunday night at PNC Stadium. The 4-0 win snapped Houston's unbeaten streak at six games while removing some of the sting out of their 2-0 loss at the hands of the Dash in Portland barely three weeks ago. With the loss, Houston drops from second to fifth in the NWSL table.
Portland's four goal outburst is another moment that some fans will take to say see I told you they weren't for real. Once again we have pretenders and not contenders. Not so fast would be my answer to these naysayers. Yes, the four goals exceeded the entire season total the Dash defense and jane Campbell had surrendered. Yes, it was the first time the 3-5-2 had failed but before you write them off let's take a few things into consideration.
Houston played the match without three key ingredients. Rachel Daly, Nichelle Prince and Sophie Schmidt were not available. Haley Hanson was playing in a spot at wingback that she is not yet totally accustomed to playing. Put those first three back on the pitch and you have an entirely different game not to mention the own goal by Houston in the first minute probably doesn't happen.
Despite the loss, there are more positives than negatives to build on. Houston will be motivated by the little things. For example, the franchise came within 69 minutes of setting a new franchise mark for most minutes without allowing a goal. This point alone makes this Houston side stand out where others have withered. Second, the team will have a full week of preparation unlike the qucik turnaround from the Angel FC game.
Fans of Houston and the naysayers as well will have a much better idea after next Sunday's game of whether this team is a pretender or a real contender. The next battle is on the road against the North Carolina Courage, a team they soundly beat in Houston over Memorial Day weekend. If the team comes out flat, that will be one indicator. If they come out and push NCC around the pitch, that will be another. If they lose in a competitive manner, that will be an indicator as well. So before you write off this team, give them another game and pay close attention to Dash head coach Sarah Lowdon's postgame comments.
“The season isn’t decided on one loss,” Dash head coach Sarah Lowdon said following the match. “I’m confident we’ll respond positively. I know this team and they’ll respond. There’s a long way to go.”