Houston Dashes to Opening Day Victory over Red Stars Again

Chelsey Bush April 15, 2017 121

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.

  • Guest

    Why start Hoy over Huerta

    • kernel_thai

      Or McCaffrey

  • Bruce

    First game – CRS fans have no need to panic. Excellent finishes by Ohai and Daly, but missed chances and – eventually – fitness defined the game.

    Surprised that Hoy got the start, especially paired with McCaffrey who likes to float wide. Did not see that coming. Not a terribly effective CF, IMHO.

    I really have to question why Dames continues to shift DiBernardo and Press out of their best positions. It was as if last year’s problems hadn’t been addressed at all.

    DiB was completely invisible until she moved centrally in with the Huerta sub late in the game. Can Press play the 10? Sure. Lots of good play-making on her part, but no-one up front to finish. Why align so your best goal-scorer gets most of her touches in the middle third?

    At some point, I think Dames has to just trust in the midfielders he’s got, and play his two most feared attacking players in their natural positions. This team has more than enough talent to otherwise compete.

    • Reality

      Press keeps saying she is a forward as in this recent article, but Ellis and now Dames keep forgetting this obvious truth…

      “Have you always liked to play up front, or did you ever like to play other positions?

      I’ve pretty much always been a forward, and I love it! I think it’s the best position, personally. Sometimes now in Chicago I get to play center-mid, and actually it’s really fun! I really like playing there, because I get the ball more and I get to be more involved, and I learn more. That’s fun, because it’s a new challenge. But at the end of the day, I feel most confident at forward, and I definitely feel like I’m a specialized player who is meant to be a forward.

      So that’s where you’re most comfortable?

      Yes, and as a center-forward—I’m most comfortable in the center.”

      https://www.sikids.com/si-kids/2017/04/05/catching-soccer-player-christen-press

      Dames’s decision to not play Press and Huerta at forward and DiBernardo and Colaprico together at CM not to mention not starting Comeau who he has so highly praised makes no sense. Is Ellis’s malady infectious?

      • guest

        Get a life. How often to you obsess over finding Press quotes on the internet? Ohai doesn’t play CF and she scores.

        • Ethan

          The thing about Ohai is I think she would not find the back of the net as often if she did play as a CF. Press, on the other hand, is a natural CF.

          • DNG

            I’d argue that she is kind of playing as a CF in transition and that has been her primary method of scoring goals much like Dunn in 2015. I think you’re right though if you are talking about her playing CF in the other phases of the game. She just doesn’t have the rest of the CF skill set. You can player her up top in a two front though and play her over the top like you can Morgan and I think she’ll produce.

          • kernel_thai

            Im not so sure it hurts Press to play in the CAM spot. She seems to thrive anywhere in front of goal and it might make it easier to get her the ball. For me the problem was if Press is drawing 3 defenders there have to be people getting open looks and they need to bury the shots.

          • Reality

            What I found disturbing was that Chicago seemed to function better with Press as the #10. They kept possession and connected with the front line in the first half. Unfortunately, McCaffrey and Hoy were not converting their opportunities.

            In the second half, when Press was moved forward, the midfield seemed more disorganized and less efficient and Press and Huerta were not getting very many opportunities.

            Obviously, there were other factors operating here like the Dash raising the level of their game in the second half and being more acclimated to the heat in this first game of the season. It also could be that Chicago, while returning 17 players, has not yet integrated their offense properly.

            While it is only one game and difficult to draw firm conclusions, Dames has to decide how to best use Press consistently thereby allowing her teammates to perform in their best capacities. I would have thought that the optimum formation would have been Press and Huerta at forward with DiBernardo as the 10 and Colaprico behind her down the middle in a diamond 4. One could experiment with the outside mids among Comeau, Gilliland, and Mautz, and even use McCaffrey or Hoy. But Dames cannot be acting like Ellis by playing people out of position like Press and DiBernardo if he hopes to have consistent performances by the team.

          • kernel_thai

            Chicago will be fine but I think Dames needs to have Huerta on the pitch. She brings a little something different and she can finish.

          • Reality

            Chicago will not be fine if they play like they did yesterday. Starting Huerta instead of McCaffrey would have helped, but as I indicated, that is only part of a solution. They had a poor first game last season against Houston in the opener and then recovered nicely. I’m waiting to see what Dames will do against FCKC.

          • kernel_thai

            Agree about Huerta but u have to think Dames is looking for ways to diversify the scoring. Team depends way to much on less when she is on the field.

          • Reality

            I totally agree that other players have to step up and provide goals. But Dames has to use them properly to facilitate this. This doesn’t just apply to Huerta but also particularly DiBernardo who as a #10 would be a catalyst for effective distribution not to mention that she is a pretty effective goal scorer herself.

          • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

            Vanessa DiBernardo has 3 career goals in the NWSL.

            In 2014, her first and only goal was a PK expansion team Houston.

            in 2015, she scored in two games in a row. Both times she was spoon-fed sitters by Huerta and Mautz respectively.

            She had no goals in 2017.

          • Reality

            Ah, but with the Perth Glory, she had 12 goals in 22 appearances. So she is capable of scoring if given the opportunity.

          • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

            Differently leagues, different quality, different coaches, different systems- I am not a fan at all of the 4-4-2 diamond or Rory Dames and I take results from the W-league with a grain of salt.

          • Reality

            EQ can always use more cynicism. 🙂

          • Steglitz49

            It is a holiday camp in the sun. An off-season frolic on the beach by the barbie.

          • DNG

            It depends on what her role is. If her role is to get on the end of chances playing as an second striker I think she’ll do well, if she’s being played as the primary creator making chances for others first, I think its an issue.

          • Reality

            You mean like a “withdrawn forward”? I think Press’s role is as a primary striker. Ellis has not been employing her in that role on the NT and now Dames seems to be making the same mistake with Chicago.

          • DNG

            Not necessarily withdraw but maybe. I think she’d be best paired with another CF that can combine with her and set her up.

          • kernel_thai

            Im not sure they have that forward tho maybe Huerta can be. Hoy is more the type u want on the end of the play and McC mostly creates for herself.

          • Reality

            I’m thinking that it would be worthwhile to give Summer Green a run at working with Press at forward. They could complement each other in ways the other forwards could not.

          • kernel_thai

            If u pushed Press back to forward, Green would be interesting slotted behind her. Green handles the ball well and is a better passer than shooter. Really surprised Harvey gave up on her without at least giving her a season to show her worth.

          • Reality

            From the little I’ve seen of her, I like Green and admire her fortitude in coming back from injury. Dames has always had a eye on her so hopefully he will give her a shot.

          • Calci0

            I too wondered why harvey didn’t hold onto Green, it seemed like an odd move to let her go. But I think she’s on a team where she will be given a chance to show her skill.

      • Ethan

        It’s apparent what Press meant for people who follow women’s football, but it’s interesting that she said/was quoted as saying “center mid” instead of “central attacking midfielder” or “the 10 role”. Notable difference between the two.

        • Reality

          Well, this was an interview with Sports Illustrated for Kids so even though we knew what she meant, I don’t think she wanted to get too technical in her remarks.

    • mockmook

      I disagree — you should be in FULL PANIC

      CRS is done for 2017

      (or not)

      • kernel_thai

        I thought CRS had the best of it for at least 60% of the match despite the score but the mitigating factor is Houston played without their two allocated players.

        • Steglitz49

          Houston won — allocated players or not.

    • Chive-on

      Didn’t get to see the game so I didn’t realize Press was at the 10. Wtf lol. Why would you play someone that dangerous out of position? Thought Dames was a moron last year when he did it too, multiple times, until it ended up costing them. Um they have plenty of good midfielders.
      This game was the most surprising result for today, for sure.

      • Bruce

        Kept her there until late in the game. Finally pushed up when McCaffrey left and Huerta came on. Make no mistake about ti: she’s a serviceable CAM. This team just doesn’t seem to score goals without her up top, though.

    • Steglitz49

      Chicago lost a game they were expected to win. Not a good way to start the season..

  • ABCDE

    Why does Ellis slight the hell out of Ohai? She’s not the second coming of Messi or anything, btu why not give her some minutes in Houston and BBVA where she is the captain and star?

    • JillSucks

      I am not invested in the Dash or Ohai at all but I agree. I would be really angry in Ohai’s position. She gets called up to camps, is clearly fit for them, but can never dress even in front of her hometown family/friends in Utah or her hometown NWSL team in Houston where she is the Captain. I feel for her.

      • loneranger

        Unlike Heath and Pugh, Ohai is a flank player who can actually finish.

    • guest

      Because Carli Lloyd is Ellis’ pet in Houston or something.

    • guest

      i still can’t believe rapinoe got a uswnt allocation over ohai after considering last years performances. outrageous!

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    • kernel_thai

      Ellis has CCBS (Cold Classless B*tch Syndrome) so she has a medical excuse for being the way she is.

  • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

    What was CRS’s formation? 4-4-2 diamond or a 4-3-3?

    • DNG

      diamond 442. Press in the hole

      • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

        (Eyes roll)

        • DNG

          You and me both. Why Press is the one creating chances instead of getting on the end of them, I have no idea.

  • kernel_thai

    Both Dash goals were perfect placements where as the Red Star shots were at a post, some defenders and a whole lot of Williams. Dash still look shaky to me on defense but Bruna is definitely a factor in the Dash air space that they have been lacking

  • Guest

    Attendance looked pretty lackluster, was there an official number released?

    • Steglitz49

      Don’t ask; don’t tell?

    • Drago

      The spin doctors are still wondering which faked number they can sell the public without losing all their credibility

    • danlopez0413

      Just over 4,000. You must not be familiar with Houston weather. There’s a reason the Texans and Astros don’t open the roof to their stadiums anytime before 8 pm. There’s a reason most Dynamo/ Dash games start at 7:30 or 8. Considering the heat and it was Easter weekend, 4K is a good crowd.

      • Bob Turner Jr.

        Not is – would be. I was there. Never ever 4,000

        • Steglitz49

          What is your best guess? 2,400? or, just 400?

  • Guest

    WHY do you play DiBernardo on the flank?
    WHY do you play your main goal scorer in the midfield?
    WHY don’t you start your only other goal scorer on the team? (Huerta)

    Makes no sense

    What is the issue in him aligning the front 6 like:

    ………McCaff……Press…….
    ………………..DiB…………….
    Mautz………………….Huerta
    ……………Colaprico………..

    • mockmook

      Let Proffitt do what you drafted her for:

      http://drawformation.com/post/58f34c372d2f6/sm-58f34c372d2f6.png

      • Steglitz49

        Profit from Proffitt? As in, don’t let Casey sell you short and Press the flesh?

        • Steg Patrol

          Always the sexual innuendo from this troll.

          • Steglitz49

            Please hound all the innuendo about Christen and Tobin, which is a good target for your ire. That is obnoxious, mean and nasty, worthy of your cause.

          • guest

            Oh please, Christen and Tobin together is what WoSo fandom dreams are made of. Only Homophobes are upset by two beautiful women getting together.

          • Steglitz49

            You might be right but as they have not declared anything, they should be left alone. A perfectly valid explanation is that they have not met any males that they fancy. Such is life. You also need to make an effort.

      • Yes, exactly. Rory made some very odd decisions to me yesterday. Press has got to play up top. Her in the midfield doesn’t make the difference her as the lone striker does.

      • kernel_thai

        Best Line-up eva

  • newsouth

    i thought NT players were suppose rotate or have the option to play for different clubs? why isn’t press in seattle or kc, a team more geared to her skills. 4 years in chicago is enough.

    • Steglitz49

      It has only been only 2.5 years.

      You need to ask LH or Vlatko because neither Seattle nor KC have traded for her.

      • guest

        Harvey wanted to this offseason but Dames would make them pay dearly for her.

        • Steglitz49

          Exactly. LH did not buy.

        • kernel_thai

          Going to be really interesting who gets protected next year because there r a lot of players who wouldn’t mind playing in Cali.

          • guest

            does los angeles want alex morgan or christen press. unlikely that both would get to go there. that will be interesting how it plays out.

          • kernel_thai

            I think Morgan stays in Flo with another tour in Lyon mixed in. She didn’t buy a house there just to move to Cali.

          • Steglitz49

            They can always sell the house …

          • Steglitz49

            LA wants Zlatan.

            Once upon a time they had Marta and Miyama and a bunch of other golden players. — “Those were days, my friend. They thought they’d never end …” — but they did in the flames of bankruptcy

          • newsouth

            los angeles wants christen press

    • Press Hound

      By the time LA gets a franchise Press will have retired, so why not stay with a team that has a shot at the playoffs?

      • anon

        I thought they were going to get one next year w LAFC?

        • Steglitz49

          If LA buys Zlatan it will be another decade.

    • guest

      No, idiot.That doesn’t happen. The only team she would go to is likely Portland for, ahem, personal reasons.

  • Re-watching this morning since I was only able to stream the first half while at PP waiting for the Thorns match to start, but I would have liked to see Huerta start over Hoy, and I was also a little bummed to see Summer Green not get the start. Something along the lines of:

    McCaff……Press…….
    Huerta……..DiBernardo………Green
    ……………Colaprico……

    Also, did Gilliland have as bad of a game as I thought on first viewing?

    • guest

      No, I though Gilliland had an uncharacteristically terrible game and was relieved to see her subbed off in the second half, thought there were obviously other problems too. Would have liked to see Green on the field for longer too.

  • Miami66

    Rachel Daly’s amazing goal was #1 on Sportscenter Top 10. Well deserved that was a perfect and difficult shot.

    • kernel_thai

      Best part was the reaction of the two sportscasters. They were honestly impressed.

  • guest

    Fantastic strike by Daly. Reminded me of the goal of the year from last year where Press out-maneuvered Yael to curve one into the net.

    JJ got burned by Ohai. She is a bit slow which is my main complaint with her performances on the nt.

    Press should never, ever play midfield on this team. Put Huerta there if you refuse to play DiBernardo there. Makes no sense at all..

    • mockmook

      Perhaps playing that high (giving all that space to run into) was tactical mistake? Perhaps a defender staying closer to home wouldn’t need to outrace Ohai?

      • kernel_thai

        Im not putting this on Ertz because of how quickly the play turned. I guess u can say a defender can never turn off for a second but in the blink of an eye it went from Chicago having an open shot on goal to Ertz in a footrace she has zero chance to win.

        • DNG

          She should have dropped off and that’s on her. She was asking to get beat over the top playing that high.

          • kernel_thai

            Not a believer in that. Last defender has to draw a line somewhere and the farther back she draws it the more ground u give to the attacker. Obviously where Ertz failed was not adjusting her line when the ball popped back out of the box. She could have put Ohai off and forced her to adjust or at least got momentum going back towards where the ball would land. Instead, Ohai, whose apparently doesn’t see well at all reacted first and Ertz got caught flat footed.

          • DNG

            The whole line really should not have been up that high looking back on the replay but Ertz still really needs to keep Ohai in front of her. She has no chance to stop the play at all and trying to play Ohai offside is extremely risky. The way to slow down fast counter attackers is not to draw a high line to give them more space but to take away that over the top ball by dropping back as a line. I’d much rather give Ohai the space to dribble at Ertz than take the chance of trying to draw her offside that could result in a 1v1 with the keeper.

          • kernel_thai

            But Ertz was alone. The main advantage to her staying both in front and close to Ohai would be to put a body on her to slow her down and hope Naeher could come out and clear it. Even giving urself a yard isn’t going to be enough to beat Ohai in a race.

          • DNG

            I’m not talking about her giving Ohai a yard I’m talking about giving her 5. Ohai really don’t have any way to beat a defender other than running past them. It’s also her responsibility to set the line right? She should have directed her line to back off. Maybe Dames holds some culpability too for team directions idk what they were, but she at the very least should have fouled Ohai.

      • Reality

        Johnston is slow. Ohai is fast. Ergo Johnston needs to make allowances for such factors. I think her primary problem is having a good sense of positioning herself as the run of play develops.

        • mockmook

          Right, but Johnston also isn’t the only defender on the field.

          • Reality

            She is usually the defender who hangs back to protect against such quick counters. Later in the game, Colaprico was falling back more to ensure coverage.

          • kernel_thai

            Best thing about the play from a Chicago standpoint was how Naeher set up. She took away the near post shot with Ohai’s dominant right foot and made her hit the corner with her left. Unfortunately for Naeher Ohai seems just as comfortable with either foot. Of her last 12 NWSL goals she has now struck 6 with each foot. A lot of forwards would have turned the play into a meal trying to set up their stronger leg.

          • Reality

            While Ohai continues to impress, I think Rachel Daley was a real key for Houston yesterday. Her movement off the ball is quite good and her goal was outstanding. I just hope for Houston that when Lloyd returns that it doesn’t screw up the chemistry.

          • kernel_thai

            I agree…Daly is more in the Press mode where she can make shots for herself. The first question for Waldrum is what does her do with Morgan Brian

          • Reality

            If Brian’s injury lingers, it opens the door for Lloyd in the midfield instead of at forward. I’m not sure which alternative would be worse.

          • kernel_thai

            I think a cautious return of Brian allows him to divide up the time with O’Sullivan and Brooks

          • DNG

            Play Brian as 10 and rotate sullivan and brooks

          • kernel_thai

            I would like to see Brian get a long run just playing the #10

          • DNG

            I read an article were it sounded like that’s the plan for this year.

          • mockmook

            If I was Waldrum, I’d be perfectly content with a midfield of O’Sullivan, Andressa, and Brooks.

            Brian and Lloyd would need to earn a place back in the line-up.

          • DNG

            I think they use Lloyd as more of a center forward so it might be one of beckie daly or ohai who sits.

          • mockmook

            Beckie had a forgettable game.

            But, I wouldn’t bring in Lloyd for her — not as a Forward in their 4-3-3

            Prince would probably be my first for an audition.

          • DNG

            They’ll probably play the hybrid 442/433 with Lloyd playing something like a false 9 with daly and ohai up top for counters.

          • kernel_thai

            It’s hard to discount role players on a team. Brook adds defensive help for his new CB pairing and O”Sullivan is his best midfielder at holding the ball.

          • DNG

            I’m not so sure of that. Sullivan is a solid player but I wouldn’t say shes better at holding the ball than Brian and Andressa.

          • kernel_thai

            She has an uncanny knack for keeping her body between the defender and the ball despite being on of the smallest players out there.

          • DNG

            I think she’s a solid player, but Brian and Andressa are very good on the ball too

          • Reality

            Sounds like a plan. I think that Houston will do better this year than some of the prognosticators think if Waldrum handles his roster well.

          • guest

            The Houston players don’t agree with you, though. Ohai herself admitted that Lloyd adds something to the starting line up when she is there. Granted, she’s rarely there, though.

          • Reality

            Like they would criticize her? I think not.

          • guest

            She did score and assist when she came back from her ridiculously long absence. But I think Waldrum needs to build his team around his most talented players that are always there, and give them that confidence that they won’t be replaced by Queen Carli when she returns. I can agree she is a disruptive force because she obviously isn’t all in with the Dash.

          • Reality

            The Dash are at best a third priority for Lloyd behind MC and the USWNT.

          • kernel_thai

            Im not sure that’s fair. US is definitely the top priority and after that it’s whoever is paying her at the time. If Lloyd could do it she play for City during the week and Dash on the weekend and make twice the money.

          • Reality

            You are very kind. I think it is evident that a CL trophy is foremost for her right now in her quest for further glory. She will conform to USWNT rules. Playing for the Dash has never been a priority for her but only a convenience.

          • guest

            you might be forgetting all the nwsl games she missed prior to the rio olympics last year due to a knee strain. many posters here said it was excessive.

          • kernel_thai

            What Lloyd adds is a player to draw off defenders

          • guest

            Daly has been spectacular in her Houston highlight reels thus far. Yet she was left off the Euro roster. Oh well, Sampson’s loss, Waldrum’s gain i guess

      • guest

        I think Dames underestimated Houston and tried to make adjustments in the 2nd half.

        • Uhm

          Yet Chicago played worse in the second half so clearly Dames ranks up there with Ellis, Gabarra,and Randy in questionable coaching decisions.

  • joe

    I am starting to wonder if playing Christen press in the midfield is the USWNT coach Ellis’ agenda to convert her into CMF and she is requiring Chicago to conform to the agenda. It is ridiculous that they’re not using her at what she is doing best. It’s like asking Ronaldo to play midfield when it is clear that he is better as a forward/striker. Unbelievable!!! They are just destroying press career at this point. She is not a midfielder, she is a forward/striker…I am frustrated at the USWNT with this and now Chicago too!!!!

    • E William Smithon

      Christen Press is destroying her own career – she lacks confidence and cannot perform under pressure. She sees Williams, Pugh, Ohai, Dunn, Morgan, Rodriguez, and possibly Leroux in her rear view mirror and is freaking out.

      • joe

        I am not sure about her not being able to perform under pressure.
        She has proven that she can score for the USWNT when she is playing at her natural position. I sort of agree with you that there is pressure because of all the forwards fighting for a spot. I just think that if Ellis allows her to play in her natural position she can outperform any of these other forwards you mentioned.