It’s official — Houston Dash to join NWSL for 2014

Dan Lauletta December 12, 2013 84

The Houston Dash will debut next April as the 9th NWSL club and first expansion side.

The Houston Dash have been announced as the first NWSL expansion club and will begin play in April, bringing the fledgling league’s enrollment to nine.  The team will be owned and operated by the same group that controls the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.  Cheryl Bailey, the CEO of NWSL, made the announcement at BBVA Compass Stadium where the new team will play its home games.  The announcement was attended by, among others, Houston mayor Annise Parker.

Dynamo president Chris Canetti first spoke to the league as early as July and talks intensified over the last few weeks as details quickly became public.  The team put on a rapid-fire, social media driven, ticket drive and secured deposits for more than 1,000 season tickets.  If they are all converted into full plans for 2014 the Dash will be off and running in the ticket sales department.

BBVA Compass will be downsized to about 7,000 for Dash home matches.  Dynamo matches top out at just over 22,000.

“Our plan would be to sell out those 7,000 seats out on average and fill the capacity that we’ve made available,” Canetti said.  ”That’s a lofty goal but that’s something we certainly want to shoot for.”

Canetti added that the possibility exists of having some games televised locally.

The Dash will be the second NWSL team co-owned by an MLS team.  Portland Thorns FC share ownership and staff with the MLS Timbers.

As with most NWSL developments so far the announcement left many details up in the air.  The Dash will get to acquire players from the eight existing clubs through an expansion draft, the details of which appear murky to this point.  As far as the college draft goes the Dash will select 5th in the 1st round.  Soccer by Ives further reported the Dash will hold the top selections in the 2nd and 4th rounds.  Bailey indicated that the Dash are free to sign up to four discovery players, effective immediately.

Bailey also confirmed that the 2014 season will begin the second weekend in April and that the teams will play each other three times for a total of 24 matches–up from 22 in the league’s maiden season.  The championship match will take place August 30.

NWSL scheduled a 7:15 pm EST conference call to discuss the addition of the Dash to NWSL.

  • xman22702

    Whoop! The day has come!

  • Lisa

    Do we assume Alex Morgan will be playing there now? Would certainly help bring the fans out

    • ThornyTimbers

      Can we assume Carrasco will be brought to the Timbers now?

      • Guest

        Paulson would be a fool to let Alex go since she is still under contract with him for another year.

        • newsouth

          no, he wouldn’t. if she jumps ship for 2015, then he gets no value. if there are any signs of her maybe moving on past portland, i’d move her for an even trade for a press if you could get her to go to portland vs pali (she has history here and they will probably want her if they are in the league next year). in fact if i was the ladies over in europe, i’d sit on the curve for 2014 and only do a part-time gig with no agreement for 2015 to see the other 3 teams in 2015.

    • STT

      No. Paulson said earlier that already-allocated players will not be reshuffled by the league; they only way they change teams is by trades negotiated between the teams.
      A lot of people are assuming, though, that Houston will get Christian Press. Not sure I buy that, but it’d definitely be WoSo star power – though she wouldn’t be available until June.

      • PMT

        I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought allocated players contracts with their teams were two years. If that’s true, wouldn’t be hard to imagine Alex making a switch to Houston after this season.

        • STT

          I think they were one year with second year options; Winters and Lindsey were dropped from the allocation list already.

      • FCKCEvans

        I wonder if this will be the case for teams like KC and Portland who may have more than 3 US allocations.

        • STT

          Well, although Paulson didn’t speak to that recently, I know earlier in the year someone said that teams wouldn’t be penalized for developing players to WNT-level, so my guess would be ‘no’, but it certainly is worth discussing since it affects the clubs’ budgets so strongly.

          • kernel_thai

            Well something has to give if they keep expanding. If they keep adding teams they cant just keep minting new subsidized players to keep up with demand. If they jump to 12 teams in 2015 there is no way they pay 36 players even if the contract allows it. They’d be paying double the roster size for a normal NT match.

        • newsouth

          they are said they wouldn’t penalize a team like KC. who could they when they robbed the other teams and gave portland sinclair and morgan?

          • Lorehead

            Is there any reason to believe that either of the two, and particularly Sinclair with her strong local ties, did not have Portland on her allocation list?

          • newsouth

            we already know sinclair had portland as her first choice. that’s not a story. morgan is apart of the paulson deal, just like red bull wanted press. she’s west coast so portland was probably in her top 3 but it became #1 when paulson put the demands on the table.

          • you’re funny

            and you’re basing this off of a sentence in an online article? or do you actually know something we don’t? there were also reports that portland was number one. so based off your logic we can say her first choice was portland

          • newsouth

            i could care less one way or another, just playing with ideas. i’m more interested in where press ends up and if ally courtnall (i want to see just how fast she really is matched up with morgan and sydney) is a right back for canadian’s nt in 2015. but thanks anyway

          • you’re funny

            no problem, I generally enjoy what you have to say, but this is one that made no sense to me. it seems like the players have all the power. If she wants to go to Houston she will, as you said, what happens with press is more interesting

      • newsouth

        here’s where there are a lot of fools over at ussoccer: you want brand names for the mls clubs but you keep brand name potential on the bench collecting rust. press and sydney + mins and goals = super stardom. if wambach didn’t start one game for the NT in 2014, everyone would still know who she is. good job ussoccer.

    • Steve

      If Carrasco stays in Houston, then Alex will either be a Dash or an Ace if Portland won’t trade her. Very little chance she will live 2,000 miles away from her fiancé.

      • TsovLoj

        Not sure I agree with that. I agree a trade might be in the offing, but they did the LDR thing before. And like the guest below says, why would she base her career around her fiance’s when she’s the hotshot and he’s a scrub?

        • Steve

          Because her career and her money is not based on the league, his is. She could get away with playing on a lower level although it might hurt her game because she is still famous Alex Morgan. She can force her way into Houston because she is the face of the league. I believe he still has two years left on his contract so he can’t.

          • TsovLoj

            Yeah, but I think it’s a serious overstatement to say she won’t play in the NWSL if Portland won’t trade her. I still think it’s highly possible she stays where she is and commutes for a while.

    • Lindsey

      Paulson would be a fool to let Alex go since she is under contract with him for another year.

    • GUEST

      Why should a super star follow a part-time player around?

  • STT

    Buried in the announcement: 2014 will apparently be a 24-game season. I assume 3x per opponent.

    • Silver Frost

      I’m sure the WNT players are thrilled. More travel, more exposure to injury, less time to recover for WC qualifiers. And the expansion draft is not going to protect some really good players. I can see eight teams’ fan base outraged.

      • STT

        I’ve yet to see anyone besides you outraged at this. You’ve been an insane sourpuss this past week on all Houston-related articles. Sure, it might not be a home-run, but it’s still going to be stable and most likely profitable.

        • kernel_thai

          The only thing Im outraged about is the NWSL motto should be “We’ll Get Back to U On That” They should put it on the league shield. I find it very difficult to believe the owners vote a team in without knowing the exact effects on their rosters and the college draft. The NWSL has known about this since July. How hard would it have been for Cheryl Bailey to have said Houston is coming in and this is exactly what it means for allocation, expansion draft and college draft. This league should be called Air America.

        • Silver Frost

          Who said I was outraged? I think it’s fraudulent for USSF to say no expansion in 2014, and in the same year welcome Houston to 2014. USSF has lost credibility. Why believe anything they say when money will turn them? WUSA and WPS had a lot of fat cat owners too. BTW, if you cared to read previous threads on Houston, you would see I’m far from the only one raising questions about this deal.

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            Lost credibility? I thought they lost credibility in regards to NWSL on day one.

            But they seem to know something none of us do, since it actually appears to be working.

          • AshleyWB

            I’ll never understand people who seem to think every utterance by any person associated with an organization has to be binding law. Gulati said he didn’t think NWSL should expand for 2014, but Gulati is not the dictator of women’s soccer. He’s one player among many, and obviously the other players – namely, the owners – ended up disagreeing with him. Differing opinions is not equal to lost credibility.

      • ThornyTimbers

        As a Thorns fan, I don’t want to lose any of our players in the expansion draft, however, as a soccer fan I know that players will be moved. It’s for the better of the league. I think coaches, players and most fans know this so outrage will be kept in check with that in the back of their mind. WPS = 0 support, NWSL = 2 MLS org support and number should increase.

        • FCKCEvans

          I just don’t want this drama to happen every season. Fans won’t be attracted to a product that changes every season.

          • STT

            Like how MLS has added 11 teams from 2005-2015 (11 years)?

          • Silver Frost

            Women’s soccer is as popular as men’s now? Hardly.

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            If you can maintain stability (which is the million dollar question) more teams will always bee good.

          • FCKCEvans

            “If you can maitain stability” is my main point. First of all, I don’t yet trust this league and what they say will be true. They’ve already made exceptions to previous statements etc. Additionally, it seems that established teams will get to keep the majority of their star players, this needs to continue for fans. Trust me, as a KC Royals fan, an organization that trades away their best players for the “youth movement” that’s never amounted to success. If teams have to give up established talent fans will get apathetic. Apathy may not happen in this expansion saga but who knows later on. I realize that natural change happens every season in professional sports but teams need the support by the league to keep their star players if they so choose to.
            And please… no one has enjoyed the “excitment” waiting for the Houston announcement in crunch time. It was annoying,untimely, and dramatic.

          • STT

            Did I say they were? No. I was just pointing out that a changing product doesn’t necessarily lead to lost interest.

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            Why not? Change creates excitement.

            At the end of the day it really depends on what the change brings.

          • Steglitz49

            The product in Japan and Europe changes each year.

            The NWSL does not have relegation and promotion. Most leagues run on 2 down & 2 up though the French ladies run on 3 down and 3 up. DC and Seattle have not been relegated.

            Teams qualify to play in the Champions League based on their performance in their domestic leagues the previous season. There is no Champions League for teams in Canada, Mexico and USA + any other country in the area.

        • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

          Portland might lose players they really want in the expansion draft. Seeing as how incredibly bad they are at maintaining players they want without an expansion draft.

      • D23

        In my opinion, the season has to extend if the NWSL is going to be a league that players (both international and American) give priority to. I think one of the attractions to playing in Europe is that there is simply more football. Particularly for players looking to improve or to state their case for NT selection. And typically, the income from a longer season is simply going to be larger than that for a shorter season. Most players can’t afford to sit around for bulk of the year, and if they split seasons they will probably prioritise the longer contract. Europe is an attractive option for many players in terms of greater technical focus, cultural and lifestyle reasons and the growing prestige of the CL. An American league is not going to compete (and let’s face it there is genuine competition for players) if it runs for a fraction of the year. The NWSL, to be a viable product long-term, simply cannot have it’s structure and character, be dictated by the whatever the current demands of the USWNT are.

        • Silver Frost

          NWSL was created for one reason: national player development. That is a long-term project. And thankfully the season is 5 months and not 10 as it is in EU countries with their ceaseless cups. I can’t keep track of them all. It never ends.

          BTW, the income from a longer season is NOT going to be larger than that of a shorter season. These women are paid the same as last year and they play more games in 2014. Don’t forget the salary cap.

          • D23

            My point about income, was to compare European salaries to American salaries. If you play a longer season, chances are you would be remunerated for highly than if you play in one for a few months. It was not to compare the 2013 and 2014 NWSL allocated player salaries. And the salary cap just makes longer term Euro contracts more appealing. The NWSL, in my opinion, can’t continue to give away so much advantage to Europe if it wants to retain top players long term. And, in my opinion, whilst long term a US league will help NT development by giving more players a chance to play, if the NWSL bureaucracy continually prioritise the NT in the short term, the quality of the league may suffer. If they are afraid of having NT players play football then the league is screwed. It’s got to be regarded as more than an NT training ground if it wants to be a longer term viable league particularly if USSF want to discontinue funding it themselves.

          • Steglitz49

            Most European lady players earn next to nothing. A US lass who plays for the NT earns much more than her European counterpart. There is no NCAA system for playing soccer. Soccer in Europe is not a path to higher education.

            A few in Europe earn a bit, like Necib and Schelin, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Only Germany pay anywhere near the bonuses that the US NT get for doing well in big competitions. In Japan it is even worse than in Europe. The US NT plays more matches, which means more money.

            Apart from the 2 established NT players of Pinoe and Tobin, who went to wealthy clubs, I doubt that the other Americans abroad earn that much. Apart from Amber Brooks they were unemployed with the collapse of the league, and beggars can’t be choosers.

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear! The purpose of the NWSL is to win the next World Cup for the US. Should Mexico do better than the US in Canada, the NWSL leadership will need deep psychotherapy. Should Canada win, ECT will probably be enough.

            Most European and Japan’s ladies leagues play about 8 months a year, not 10. They usually have one domestic knock-out cup competition but England has 2 cups.

            The Champions League is essentially a play-off based on performances in the domestic leagues the previous season. It ties the countries of UEFA together.

            All women’s teams in Europe and Japan lose money. They differ in who defrays the party and settles the debts at the end of the season. It varies between private individuals, the fans, rich men’s clubs and local government (the tax-payer).

        • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

          Which clearly US Soccer is putting the demands of the league above their own demands. That deserves respect.

      • newsouth

        blame the nwsl coaches. did they have mexican players on their rosters who could rest the NT players but didn’t want to play because it was important to win every game? it sounds like the NT mentality to me. the problem is, championships really don’t matter right now in the nwsl because they need to get past year 3.

        • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

          Ha! Legitimate championships will always matter, and regardless of how convoluted the NWSL is their championship is legitimate. Obviously year 3 (or rather year 4) is more important than any championship though.

      • Ben

        You know what will solve all these “problems”, dissolve the league and then they will have ample time to recover for WCQ and there should not be any risk of injury, well unless someone stump their toes getting out of bed.

        • Silver Frost

          Ask Morgan how fun it is to have a knee injury in August, considering WC qualifiers take place in the autumn.

          • Rdalford

            NWSL expansion to 9 teams does not appear to change the early April thru August schedule so no real change to time between end of NWSL and start of WC qualifiers. If scheduled appropriately the “bye’s” needed to balance the 9 team schedule may be used to avoid some of the too many consecutive games in too few days problems with the 2013 NWSL schedule. Risk of injury is always there, but probably impacted more by poor quality of some of the fields than by number of teams.

          • clioamare007

            We need to get better quality referees. They need to crack down on fouls. However, I am skeptical about quality of referees and whether or not they will improve. NWSL and MLS get refs from same organization — the Professional Referee Organization.

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear!

          • Ben

            An extra two games is not going to be the difference between getting an injury or not. Are we going to blame Heath’s foot injury on that or what? There are man thinks to nitpick at but I don’t think this is one of them

          • AshleyWB

            She’d probably reply that injuries are a part of PLAYING soccer. Players generally want to play, you know.

    • Lindsey

      I’m hoping that the amount of times every team plays against an opponent becomes more even.The Flash played against Boston and Sky Blue four times while they only played against Kansas City and Portland twice in the regular season.

      • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

        That’s a logistics problem that even the NFL deals with.

      • Steglitz49

        The sooner it can be a standard league of a home and an away game in a season, the more will be gained.

    • treehill

      24 games is perfect for a nice clean schedule. 27 weeks, 3 byes for each team, no “makeup games” or excess midweek games. People who were worried about that didn’t understand the math.

  • Pressured

    WAIT WAIT WAIT. HOLD ON “THE DASH.” I JUST THOUGHT OF A WAY BETTER NAME. GIVEN THE ORANGE JERSEYS AND ORANGE STADIUM AND THE ORANGE DYNAMO. THE MASCOT CAN BE “THE FUSE,” THE MEN CAN BE “THE DYNAMO,” BUT THE WOMEN CAN BE THE “EXPLOSION!”

    • Pressured

      Or the “Solar Flares!”

      • Pressured

        There could also be an orange smoothie pregame drink with tons of caffeine, and the kids could run wild pregame.

      • Pressured

        Or the “Supernovas!”

    • Silver Frost

      Dash is the name of the Kardashian clothing stores. Briliant :( . Maybe they can design the new kits.

  • Pressured
  • gerd karl

    9 teams in a league, AWESOME
    the nwsl IS a joke league.

  • kernel_thai

    Welcome aboard Houston fans. It’s a great product and the more u put into the better it will be.

    • Rdalford

      Agree

  • Pressured

    Dash: The news dashed her hopes. Her delight was dashed with bitterness. She dashed off a letter. It was like a dash of salt in a wound.
    Or Supernova: “The explosion of a star in which the star may reach a luminosity one billion times that of the sun.”
    I think I’d rather watch the Houston Supernova rather than the Houston Dash.

  • Phins

    Yeah Dash is a blah name/logo…should’ve went with a space theme. They probably wanted something that started with a D, but I’m sure they could’ve gotten more creative. On the plus side, at least there isnt another blue/red team!

    As for Alex Morgan…why are people assuming she would want to play there because her fiance plays for the Dynamo? He could be traded at any moment. Not to mention in Portland she plays in front of the biggest, loudest crowds.

    • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

      They still will wear red. Ha!

  • blueshoes

    Awful name, awful logo… come on Houston. They would have been better off polling the fans for the new name/logo/colors.

    • Steglitz49

      They could have been United, City or simply LFC, but they preferred to be Dash. Let’s hope their hopes are not dashed (groan, groan).

    • newsouth

      i wanted to say this. they could have put up a logo content online for pennies and came up with the better logo. what a rush job? you have the franchise, now take a month and get the logo and colors together

      • GUEST

        Nice Logo,LOL.

        • newsouth

          they (TM) it. do they really thing anyone will try to replicate that mess? Lets hope they go back to the drawing board like KC when their first crest was complete junk. i hope their fan base is flooding their mail about this abomination and rush job.

    • S.

      Those are Houston colors, though; same as the Dynamo.

    • Silver Frost

      Logo’s fine, and better than some of the others. We don’t really know the color scheme of the new kits yet. Portland chose red and green for Thorns, although Timbers are green and white. Is there a rule on this?

  • mdude

    Way to go Houston. Just when you are starting to turn the corner financially, you invest in this money sinkhole. I hope there is a category for politically correct investments on the IRS form, that way you can use it as a tax write-off

    • Silver Frost

      Although I’ve been critical of this hasty deal, I have no problem with an MLS franchise backing a new NWSL team at the appropriate time. Houston and its owners AEG do not make business decisions because they are PC. If women’s soccer is not your cup of tea, then why post on a forum devoted to it?

      • newsouth

        AEG owns Houston. then, why in the world doesn’t the Galaxy have a women’s club?

        • JAMES

          Good question. The move benefits the league, but will AEG stick around if God forbid the club starts losing money after USSF pulls out?

        • TsovLoj

          I’ll admit, the AEG thing is the one thing that makes me nervous here. They flaked on us once before.