HOUSTON — The Houston Dash will have a new head coach for the second consecutive season.
In 2019, the responsibility of leading the Dash to reach their full potential falls to James Clarkson, who has worked closely with the Dash since the team’s beginning in 2014 through his previous job with the Dynamo Academy. Now head coach, he’ll lead the Dash into their sixth National Women’s Soccer League season with a returning core of players, such as 2018 club Golden Boot winner Rachel Daly, U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Jane Campbell, Dash all-time leading scorer Kealia Ohai, veteran defender Amber Brooks and central midfielder Sofia Huerta.
Along with longtime Dash players, new key additions join the roster, including midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who is already being called the team’s “missing link” after returning to the NWSL from a four-year stint in Germany. With her, Houston will look to reach the next step — the playoffs.
Dash face Seattle Reign FC in the season opener
When: Sunday, April 14, 6 p.m. ET
Where: BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Live stream: Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! Sports app (U.S.); NWSLsoccer.com (international)
The buzz: The Dash are in a bit of a rebuilding process after missing the 2018 playoffs and may be the most understated NWSL team in 2019 — yet the new elements added during the offseason have many talking playoffs already.
The Dash has seven players that most likely will be called up for international duty ahead of the this summer’s World Cup. When those players eventually come back, fans will truly be able to see the team’s dynamics.
Houston met Seattle three times last year, and won only their first meeting last May.
Other key matches
April 28 vs. North Carolina Courage – The Dynamo host the reigning NWSL champion North Carolina Courage. This should be a good game to watch and gauge Houston’s quality, especially with the high expectations for the Dash.
Quotes and notes
Amber Brooks, on the different capability each player has to make the Dash a dangerous team:
“I think we all contribute in different ways, … If you are the team that’s putting the most pressure on and [are] really tight defensively, it’s gonna be a struggle for the other team.”
Taylor Comeau, on the team’s playoff goal:
“I think a lot of people on this team are willing to help and just the atmosphere is different this year. I think we all have the same goal, and we’re completive, and we are in this together, and if someone goes down we are going to help them get back up.”
Biggest offseason moves
- Three Canadian players were allocated to the Dash by the Canadian Soccer Association: Defender Allysha Chapman and forwards Nichelle Prince and Sophie Schmidt.
- Defenders Satara Murray and Ari Romero were acquired through the NWSL Discovery Process. Murray, a Texas native, joins the Dash after four seasons with Liverpool FC Women in England’s FA Women’s Super League. Meanwhile, Romero comes to Houston from Valur Reykjavík in Iceland’s Úrvalsdeild kvenna.
- The Houston Dash waived forward Thembi Kgatlana and midfielder Linda Motlhalo. Kgatlana joined Houston in 2018 through the discovery process from the University of Western Cape. Motlhalo signed for the Dash as a discovery player last year after two seasons in South Africa’s Sasol League with JVW F.C.
Forwards: Rachel Daly (INTL), Veronica Latsko, Kealia Ohai, Nichelle Prince (FED)
Midfielders: Haley Hanson, Sofia Huerta, Kristie Mewis, Christine Nairn, Sophie Schmidt (FED), Meleana Shim, Kyah Simon (INTL)
Defenders: Lindsay Agnew, Amber Brooks, Taylor Comeau, Allysha Chapman (FED), Satara Murray, Clare Polkinghorne (INTL), Ari Romero
Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell, Bianca Henninger
FED (Federation Player): Any player assigned to a roster by virtue of being a Federation Player
INTL (International Player): Any player using an international roster spot