For the second year in a row, the Houston Dash have defeated the Chicago Red Stars at home in the season opener.
Chicago started the game with strong possession, forcing the Dash to chase the ball and putting Houston’s new backline to the test right away. Bruna Benites and Janine Van Wyk showed some nervy moments early in their debut, nearly gift-wrapping a goal with a bad giveaway from Van Wyk that forward Stephanie McCaffrey sent off the post in the 15th minute.
However, the Dash responded immediately after that play, with midfielder Amber Brooks launching a long ball over the top of Chicago’s backline. Forward Kealia Ohai, picking up where she left off after scoring 11 goals in the second half of last season, beat defender Julie Ertz to the ball, and took on goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher 1v1. Naeher remained on her line, and Ohai sent it far post to score the first goal of the 2017 NWSL season.
Much of the game was battled out in the midfield, and the game went into halftime at 1-0. Chicago came out of the locker room continuing to press the Dash, and Van Wyk had several key slides inside the box to prevent a shot. However, Houston’s confidence picked up, and they pressed the gas. Both goalkeepers came up with class saves, as Naeher managed to get one hand on the ball to block a Sarah Hagen header in the 73rd minute and Williams denied a wide open Vanessa DiBernardo a few minutes later.
Striker Rachel Daly put the game to bed with ten minutes to go, curling a left-footed shot inside the net that Naeher had no chance on. Although Christen Press was dangerous every time she got on the ball, the Dash did well to get numbers behind her and did just enough at times to keep the Red Stars off the score sheet.
Rachel Daly is very good at soccer. pic.twitter.com/0CItLO4bup
— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) April 15, 2017