Sandy, Utah — The Houston Dash have made history. In the club’s existence, the Dash have never made it to a knockout-round competitive match. Houston hasn’t been able to reach the playoffs in the NWSL’s lifetime. However, with the Challenge Cup, that changed.
Not only did Houston make an elimination-round match, but the Dash succeeded, too. Houston scrambled, fought and featured in gritty matches against the Utah Royals and Portland Thorns to get to the final. This Sunday, the Dash were crowned NWSL Challenge Cup champions with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars.
The victory resulted in Houston lifting a trophy for the first time. Sophie Schmidt, a Canadian international, scored the opening goal in the 5th minute. Kristie Mewis went down inside the penalty area after being taken down by Kayla Sharples. Then, a penalty kick was rewarded to the Dash.
Schmidt lined up to take the kick, sending it past Alyssa Naeher.
The match continued on without anymore goals. However, there were threats, mainly from the Houston Dash. Katie Naughton had a header early in the second half that was barely saved from Naeher, just by her fingertips.
Jane Campbell was busy in net for the Dash, though, having to make some saves against Savannah McCaskill, Rachel Hill and Kealia Watt. However, Chicago could not muster an attack strong enough to break through the Dash and the Campbell.
After the match, Rachel Daly praised the Dash and her teammates, saying that they had a goal to win the tournament and succeeded. “We hung with the top teams. Chicago is a top team, much respect to them,” Daly said.
The @HoustonDash are Challenge Cup 𝘾𝙃𝘼𝙈𝙋𝙄𝙊𝙉𝙎 🏆
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 26, 2020
Three Takeaways from the Houston Dash victory
- Rachel Daly’s Tournament: Rachel Daly was outstanding during the NWSL Challenge Cup. Not only did she win the league MVP, but she proved herself to be one of the best in the world. When you think of the Dash, you automatically think of Daly. She’s a smart player and really took the Challenge Cup and made it her own.
- No USWNT Players? No problem: It’s very annoying to hear constantly about the USWNT if you’re an international player. Yes, the USWNT have won four World Cup titles. However, other international players are just as good, and they are professional, too. Throughout the broadcast, it was said that there were no national team players, which was quickly corrected to no USWNT players. However, Canada showed up in a big way on the pitch for Houston, with Schmidt, Nichelle Prince and others.
- Chicago’s attack is failing: Sam Kerr. It’s the ghost that lingers around the Chicago Red Stars and head coach Rory Dames. The attacking players for Chicago weren’t great in this tournament. Kealia Watt didn’t find herself on the scoresheet once, same with Katie Johnson. Chicago needs to find a legit No. 9.
Throwing it down like only H-Town can 🤘
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 26, 2020