NWSL: Houston Dash looking to “stick together” through rough patch

Houston Dash
HOUSTON, TX — MAY 09: Houston Dash defender Rachel Daly (3) jumps into team hug in celebration of a goal scored by Houston Dash forward Kyah Simon (17) in the second half of the soccer match between the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash on May 9, 2018 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Editorial (July 17, 2019) — Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It’s a popular catchphrase. “Rome wasn’t built in a day” means that success doesn’t just happen overnight. Building an empire, dynasty or city takes time, effort and concentration. Immediate success doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw the tools down and walk away. Instead, finishing the project must be at the utmost importance.

The Houston Dash organization wasn’t built in a day.

Last year, the Dash missed the playoffs under first-year head coach Vera Pauw. The former South African national team head coach left the team after one season.

Enter, stage left, James Clarkson.

He’s spent more than a decade with the Houston Dynamo Academy. He helped open up the academy in 2007 and saw as 10 players went on to sign first-team contracts. Clarkson isn’t just a coach in Houston; he’s invested in Houston. That’s why he didn’t mince words whenever the Dash recently fell to the Chicago Red Stars this past weekend. Clarkson didn’t fail to hide his disappointment.

“Another individual error cost us the goal, and we haven’t responded and done enough to win the game,” Clarkson said. “They didn’t create anything after the goal and it’s really disappointing. It’s another home loss and we should be winning these games.”

“We should be much harder to fair up the table.”

Sticking together through thick and thin

So what does the Dash need to do to get back up the table? Kyah Simon answered that question simply.

“… We need to stick together,” she said.

This isn’t the first time the Dash has faced adversity. The season was deemed hopeless last year when Kristie Mewis tore her ACL. However, the Dash, while they didn’t make the playoffs last year, fought until the very end.

The Dash started out strong this year, but have since lost their last three matches. In Week 4 action, the Dash actually rose to third place in the league. A week later, the Dash claimed the top spot. Since then, the Dash have been trending down on the ladder. Houston’s last victory came against the Utah Royals FC back on May 11. Since then, the Dash have drawn three matches, while losing four.

However, Simon says that the team has a “solid defensive structure.”

“Goals will come, I have no doubt in our team that we have the personnel to execute in front of goal,” Simon explained. “It’s just a matter of locking it down defensively and staying positive. It’s hard to come out of a hole when you haven’t had many results go your way.”

Her biggest advice to teammates? Stay positive.

“There’s still a lot of football games to play,” Simon said. “For us, we just need to pick ourselves back up and we have another game next week where we can ride around.”

Internationals are back to lend a hand

Houston didn’t have anybody from their squad make the FIFA Women’s World Cup winning U.S. Women’s National Team. However, there were notable absences. Rachel Daly featured for the fourth-place finishing England team. Claire Polkinghorne suited up for The Matildas of Australia. Meanwhile, Sophie Schmidt, Allysha Chapman and Nichelle Prince competed for Canada.

Prince ended up with a season-ending injury during her time in France. That’s a huge blow to the Dash, who are already missing Pittsburgh, Pa., native Veronica Latsko to an ACL injury. Clarkson said that having Daly gone and Latsko injured was a major hurdle.

“I think with Veronica Latsko injured it’s been a real loss for us,” Clarkson said. “We have players out there that are trying their best and everything, but at moments it’s not good enough.”

However, all healthy international players are back.

Schmidt, Chapman and Polkinghorne all made their return against Chicago. However, Daly had to sit out due to a red card she picked up right before leaving for the World Cup.

Sofia Huerta, who has featured in the midfield and defense, said that, while losing is hard, she still has faith in her team. She said that missing Daly for an extra match wasn’t ideal.

“… But she’s going to be back and hopefully we can get a groove of things and get our goal-scoring back,” Huerta said. “We’ll have more people to step up and score goals too.”

What’s next for the Dash?

Houston has a chance to get all their healthy players back on the pitch Saturday evening. The Houston Dash will head up north to the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds. The Washington Spirit are currently in fourth place, after spending a few weeks on top.

Both sides will kick off at 7:30 p.m. EST/6:30 p.m. CT.

 

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