NWSL Preview: Vera Pauw and the Houston Dash Experiment

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06: South Africa Coach Vera Pauw looks on during the Women's Group E first round match between South Africa and China PR on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Editorial (March 21, 2018) — Vera Pauw is using her first time as a club Head Coach as a major experiment.

NWSL Preview: Vera Pauw and the Houston Dash Experiment

Instead of taking it easy and simplifing her first season in the NWSL, Pauw is experimenting with her roster and making heads turn. She isn’t an average coach and compeletly reshaped the Houston Dash’s roster.

After her hire on Nov. 27, 2017, Pauw went to work.

Despite her head-turning moves, Pauw will be guided in the ways of the Dash organizaiton by returning players Rachel Daly, Kealia Ohai, and Janine van Wyk.

Pauw and van Wyk are familiar with each other, as Pauw was her former head coach for the South African Women’s National Team. She also signed fellow South African forward Thembi Kgatlana.

Last year, the Dash finished out of playoff contention in eighth place. Their roster is a mixture of old and new, with fresh, young players joining a new head coach.

Time will tell to see if Pauw’s experiments actually pay off.

Player to Watch

Kristie Mewis bounced around a lot last season.

She began the year with the Washington Spirit. After the emergence of Havana Solaun, Mewis was sent to the Chicago Red Stars in a trade on Aug. 21, 2017.

Mewis only made one appearance with Chicago and a little over a week a later, on Aug. 30, 2017, was traded to the Dash. In return, Chicago acquired Morgan Brian (who now features in France for Lyon).

After a hectic 2017 season, Mewis has finally settled in Houston. Paired in the attacking section of Pauw’s lineup, she joins Daly, Ohai and Nichelle Prince, who all featured for the Dash last season.

Mewis has had plenty of success in the NWSL and aboard. A former U.S. WNT member, she’s the older sister of Samantha Mewis of the North Carolina Courage.

Sam had to learn her talents from someone. Now, Mewis can be a veteran teacher to young and new players while also fitting herself into Pauw’s squad.

Thoughts on Head Coach Vera Pauw

Pauw has been a head coach since 1998. However, there’s a catch.

Pauw has only coaches national teams, including Scotland, the Netherlands, Russia, and South Africa.

Now, she’s dabbling in a growing league — and she’s learning that it’s not easy. Right now, Pauw is going through a major conundrum with Christen Press, who the Dash acquired via a three-way trade with Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars.

However, Press doesn’t want to feature for the Dash — and is now seriously considering going back to Europe and playing in Sweden.

For Pauw, it’s a huge loss. It’s an even bigger loss for the league.

Who the Dash lost in the off-season

Carli Lloyd was the biggest loss for the Houston Dash.

After a tumultuous season with the Dash in 2017 — plagued by injuries — Lloyd requested a trade to Sky Blue FC. Lloyd, who married her husband Brian Hollins in 2016, elected to move to New Jersey to be near her husband and family.

“She is a player you don’t want to trade…but I know what it is like to live away from the one you love,” Pauw said to the Houston Chronicle. “We could stop her from going to New Jersey because we had her rights, but in the end, there is more in life than soccer.”

Lloyd under performed last season by only scoring two goals in eight appearances. However, her veteran presence will be missed most by Pauw and her coaching staff.

In addition to Lloyd, Cami Privett announced her retirement and the Dash waived Kelly Conheeney and Bruna Benites. The Dash lost Janine Beckie to Sky Blue FC in the three-way trade and Poliana to the Orlando Pride.

Camille Levin announced on her Instagram that she plans to pursue opportunities in Europe. Also departing the Dash are Cari Roccaro and Tiffany Weimer.

Poliana was the biggest loss behind Lloyd. The 27-year-old Brazilian started 17 out of 22 appearances, scoring four goals and providing two assists.

Season Prediction

Pauw’s experiments will either prove successful and shocking or disastrous and be one giant catastrophe.

Right now, it’s looking like a catastrophe.

While Pauw inherits a nice group in Daly, Ohai, and goalkeeper Jane Campbell, her player signings have been less than impressive. With the loss of Lloyd, Press was supposed to fill in the gap and be the “big-name player.”

However, Press doesn’t even want to give Pauw a shot — and got theshorthandd of the three-way trade stick.

I predict that the Dash will fall in last place during the 2018 NWSL season.

2018 NWSL Preview Series
Chicago Red Stars
North Carolina Courage
Orlando Pride
Portland Thorns
Sky Blue FC
Seattle Reign
Utah Royals
Washington Spirit

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