Ohai Leads Dash to First Ever Victory in Maryland

Chelsey Bush April 29, 2017 83

It was a tale of two halves, but Kealia Ohai led the Dash to their first ever win in Maryland.

Technical issues abounded in the beginning of the game, but whether fans at home could see it or not, the Dash came out with the foot on the gas, getting their first shot off within five minutes.

Janine Beckie fired a rocket in the 21st minute, heading for far post, but goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé was equal to the task. A few moments later Ohai received the ball on the left flank, dribbled inside, and sent it low to the right past a diving Labbé.

The Spirit took over in the second half, maintaining possession and forcing Houston to drop back in numbers to defend. Francisca Ordega in particular kept the entire Dash backline busy. However, both goalkeepers came up with big saves the keep the score low. Forward Rachel Daly launched a hard ball that Labbé tipped over the crossbar in the 66th minute, and a few minutes later Lydia Williams, back in net for the Dash after sitting out last week, punched away a header by Shelina Zadorsky.

Ohai created another chance for herself in the dying minutes, evading defenders to go 1v1 with Labbé, who came off her line with confidence, smothering the ball at Ohai’s feet.

Although the Spirit created numerous chances in the second half, the Dash defense did just enough to go home with three points.

{Read more: Courage continue streak with win over Pride | Portland Defeats Chicago}

  • guest

    Why is she still not regular at Jill Ellis team?

    • Borgata

      Those wing positions might be the most competitive positions to get on the USWNT. Competing with Heath, Dunn, Pugh, Lavelle, and Rapinoe. If they could start moving Lavelle and Pugh centrally and Dunn upfront more often she could be in the mix.

      • Movement

        Ohai should be on the team above Rapinoe right now.
        Lavelle should also move inside. Aly Wagner would agree.

        Dunn is better up top (as is Press of course).

        2019 Roster:

        F – Alex Morgan, Lynn Williams, Dunn, Press, Leroux
        MF – Pugh, Heath, Ohai, Lavelle, Lloyd, Brian, Mewis, Sullivan
        D – O’Hara, Gilliland, Short, Sauerbrunn, Ertz, Sonnett, Lussi/Seiler
        GK – Naeher, Harris/Campbell/Franch (any 2 to go with Naeher)

        2019 Out: Solo, Pinoe, A-Rod, Long, Horan, Krieger, Klingenberg

        2023 in: Ashley Sanchez, Kuhlmann, Pinto, Howell, Kerr, & more.

        Tyler Lussi outshines Klingenberg when she suits up for Portland.
        Lussi will play a variety of positions, but ultimately settle at o-back.

        Gabby Seiler’s stock is skyrocketing.
        She plays the Krieger role. Outside back who can defend well.

        Gilliland’s best years are ahead of her.

        Andi Sullivan eliminates Horan from the picture in 2019.
        Lloyd is back in 2019, and the continual emergence of Mewis hurts Long in 2019.

        • FawcettFan14

          I’ve been keeping a hypothetical 2019 roster myself, and I mostly agree with your choices. A couple points of disagreement:

          I would take Horan as a 5th forward over Leroux. Syd has not played a good club season since 2013 and I’m not convinced she will return to her former self. I think you need at least one target forward and Horan fits that bill. She has good soft touch on the ball and just needs to stay in shape.

          I think Ertz is a better midfielder than defender, but not sure who you’d displace from the center mids you listed.

          I am not convinced by Gilliland. She is not improving on her technical deficits and she is a 3rd year pro now. As for Lussi as a fullback, that is a total wildcard.

          I’m more inclined to choose players like Hinkle and Gibbons for fullbacks, or even Menges or Dahlkemper if you want a hybrid player who can play center back (especially if Ertz is used in midfield) or outside.

          • kernel_thai

            I think it’s hard to pick a roster with the coach constantly changing the formation. I could see a few spots change based on whether she sticks with this weeks 4-2-2-2 as opposed to the various combinations of 4-3-3 she has tried.

          • Steglitz49

            “You can’t be serious” –as the great man used to exclaim.

          • DNG

            I don’t see personnel changing too much between those two formations.

          • mockmook

            I think with a proper coach, the personnel would be quite different for the two formations (assuming only one DM in the 4-3-3).

          • kernel_thai

            I think the most of the players r the same regardless of the formation but a coach could use the last couple spots on players tailored to a specific formation.

          • mockmook

            Probably should change 3 to 4 players with the change in formation — that’s pretty significant with only 10 field players:

            4-3-3 formation:

            http://drawformation.com/post/590686b224532/sm-590686b224532.png

            Or, the 4-2-2-2 — which I don’t think we have used in years:

            http://drawformation.com/post/59068f5d056c1/sm-59068f5d056c1.png

          • kernel_thai

            Wait…r u Jill Ellis? : )

          • AlexH

            I would very much like to see a front 6 in a 4-3-3 like this.

            FW: Dunn, Horan, Pugh
            MF: Ertz, Lavelle, Mewis

            Don’t bother with the old guard, lets see what this can do and work the more experienced players back in when the games matter. Horan would be the target, Dunn and Pugh would track or press the opposing FB on D, Lavelle would be the maestro and Mewis and Ertz would be the bodyguard along with being useful on set pieces.

          • AlexH

            Another option would be to swap Ertz and Horan. I believe Ertz was initially a fwd so why not try her there as well, while HOran seems to be a MF. Just don’t put Ertz at CB for any reason whatsoever!

          • kernel_thai

            Everyone talks about replacing Lloyd but she is really the only heading presence in the US attack so yeah, if ur taking Lloyd off the board ud need someone like Ertz or Horan who is good with her head to balance the attack.

          • Steglitz49

            A FW line without Alex Morgan will only happen if she incapacitated.

            A MF of the three you name plus Moe Brian if she is fit, is more likely.

          • AlexH

            True. But my point in suggesting this front 6 is to try out players who aren’t named Alex or Carli. The games don’t count right now so it’s all about finding out walks the walk.

          • Steglitz49

            I am surprised that JE has not left Alex, Carli and Crystal in Europe and not call on them till they are back in the NWSL.

            I suspect it is that CBA/MOU that is hamstringing her.

          • mockmook

            Seems like the 4-2-2-2 label is a fiction that JE dreamed up so she can put non-wingers on the 4-4-2 wings and not be called on it.

          • DNG

            Heath, Dunn, Rapinoe, O’hara, and Pugh are non-wingers?

          • mockmook

            I’m thinking back to when she cycled thru Press, Lloyd, Brian and A-Rod — and, there was likely some other inappropriate ones I can’t remember.

          • DNG

            Okay you definitely have a point with those players. Brian and Lloyd were/are two of the worst wing options on the team. Press did okay in her time there but clearly was not as good as the more natural wings. I’d like to see Ohai get some minutes in a true 433 in the unannounced tournament this summer.

          • Terry Lash

            Menges is impressive at the club level. She deserves an opportunity to see whether she can also excel at the international level.

          • kernel_thai

            Let’s take Menges for example. If Ellis s looking for CBs who pass out of the back and Portland doesn’t use Menges that way, wouldn’t it be smart to bring Menges in to see if she can do it rather than assume she can’t based on the fact that Parson’s doesn’t use her like that?

            In a similar vein, read an interview with Klingenberg in SI where she the new CBA removes floater restrictions so more player should get a chance. Not really sure this is much as a step as the previous restriction was 8 or 9 pros without contracts on a roster. How often r u going to bring in more than 8 non contract players? Most times ur gonna bring in all or most of the 22 with contract and add a few additional players.

        • Steglitz49

          We do not know yet what sort of recovery Ms Sullivan will make from her ACL.

          Suerbrunn failed on the Glorious 12th as did Ertz with her and someone else, whose name slips my mind.

          You must decide between Lussi and Seiler otherwise you could have alternates for all positions.

          As for the goalies, none are good enough. That is JE’s biggest headache: find a true new Hope.

        • Bobby

          I would love JE to pick the team above! Then she, for sure, would be fired. So many deficients! I’m not surprised everyone is enamored by Lavelle……she has been fooling a lot of people forever! Answer one simple question, Has she ever made her College, Club, ODP, High School ever better? The answer is NO! She only cares about herself. TEAM is not in her vocabulary! You’ll see!

          • guest

            sounds like you might really be talking about mallory pugh.

          • mockmook

            Thanks for alerting us that Lavelle sucks and is a horrible person — don’t worry, we have some guys coming in from Jersey to take care of this little problem for us…

          • guest

            The best soccer team didn’t want to recruit a tiny, skinny, lanky kid who weighs less than a 100 lbs.

        • guest

          2023 there will be players, yet un hyped, to way overshadow the lost girl midfielders of the 2016 u17 WC

          • mockmook

            Heck, if players were regularly evaluated/selected on current form, at least half of Movement’s roster would turn over by 2019

      • AlexH

        Rapinoe needs to have a sendoff game, Dunn should start up top and Lavelle should move centrally. Plenty of room for Ohai on the squad. For whatever reason Jill doesn’t rate her enough to give her a chance.

        • mockmook

          For Seattle, Rapinoe is currently playing some sick crosses in — perhaps missing her mark by 2 to 3 millimeters [editors note: the preceding figure is an estimate]

          BUT, I’d play younger players like Ohai until the year of the WWC, and then decide who is the most in form to actually take to the Cup.

          • Steglitz49

            I never use the abbreviation WWC because there is no MWC, only a WC. Thus I prefer to write WC-19 or whichever WC I am referring to, to avoid discriminating.

        • guest

          rapinoe will accuse the coach of being homophobic if that happens.

      • DNG

        I don’t really see Pugh as a central player right now.

      • #1Fan

        Because the wide slots emphasize athleticism more than the rest. U can play a technician there or a runner and the US produce plenty of the latter.

    • kernel_thai

      Considering the NT has had trouble getting goals from the flank players it seems even to obvious for the oblivious Coach Ellis to continue to miss.

  • well

    Ohai has no chance on the NT… Jill doesn’t rate her and she’s competing against some of the most beloved players on the team in Heath, Pugh, Dunn…

    • Guester

      She’s a better finisher than Heath/Pugh

      • mockmook

        But, does JE recognize that?

        • kernel_thai

          Someone asked Estelle Johnson what it was like covering Marta and Ohai in back to back games. She said it was “exhausting”. If the US continues to struggle string goals against good teams (Sweden, Norway, Japan, Australia & Brazil) and Ohai continues to put up number in the NWSL, then either Ellis or the next coach will have to rethink this.

          • DNG

            The US hasn’t really had trouble scoring goals against Brazil Japan and Australia in recent matchups. Been a while since they played Norway and the problem against Sweden is not one Ohai I think can fix. Might as well call her in and give her some minutes though.

          • kernel_thai

            But isn’t it the simplest solution to the problem. Ellis made a big mistake not using her in SBC. If Ohai had been a non factor there then Ellis could have shrugged and moved on. Instead she went with her normal roster, had a very disappointing performance, and still didn’t learn a thing about players like Ohai. Hopefully the next six matches will be used to figure out who belongs on the roster and is not simply a run out for the usual suspects.

          • DNG

            I would not have moved on if Ohai had been a non factor at SBC. No one played well and a lot of that was due to what I perceive to be poor coaching. The organization in their pressing at SBC was abysmal for example.

            I think there could be a place for Ohai in the 23 player roster in 2019 though certainly over carrying all three of Leroux, Williams and Morgan. I don’t really think she does a whole lot different from Pugh and Dunn though. Pugh and Dunn are always going to win out that competition if it come down to that.

            I think she’d be fine in a more conventional 433/4231 but that would require Ellis to remove Lloyd from the lineup. She doesn’t really have the ability inside to play as a pinched wing in a 4222

          • #1Fan

            is Ohai better than Pugh Dunn O’Hra et all on the flanks. If yes, by how much ? I just dont see RM or LM ans being areas of weakness in the US set up. You can even throw Lavelle and Leroux , Morgan into the wide convo if you want.

            Central players are the issue and to hear that people now consider Ertz a candidate to play CM in a team that syas it wants to be more possession oriented is astounding to me. But hey, you never know.

          • kernel_thai

            If she can score goals from there she is an upgrade. Most of the attacking players can only score if they get behind or if they r in front of goal. If Ohai can grab goals from a flank position against good international opponents its an upgrade.

          • DNG

            I don’t see it as black and white at all. I think she’s likely to have difficulty scoring goals against quality competition outside much in the same ways most flank players in WoSo do. Her NWSL goals are by and large all counter attacks against not great defenses. On the NT, She won’t be leading the line trying to get in behind like she is for the Dash. Also, Lloyd has been played in the center for the last year and a half on the premise of as long as she’s scoring goals it’s a plus. That’s not something I agree with at all.

          • AlexH

            High level soccer is a low scoring game so everybody is “likely to have difficulty” scoring from just about anywhere. Hell some of our player are likely to have difficulty from the penalty spot yet somehow their spots appear to be secure.

          • DNG

            Of course, my point is that if she isn’t adding much more in terms of goals and also less everywhere else than it’s not really a positive change. This team can’t afford to play only fast crossers on the wings with no targets in the center.

          • mockmook

            Then put targets in the center — if we don’t have targets in the center that is a much bigger issue.

            Anyway, Ohai is excellent at many things:

            Scoring
            Getting endline and crossing
            Defending

            I think she is a rarer talent than you give her credit for

          • DNG

            Team clearly doesn’t want to play that way otherwise O’Reilly would still be here.

          • mockmook

            So, the team will never cross the ball into the box again?

            Interesting.

          • DNG

            I don’t think it will be the focus like it was during the Abby era. There are plenty of other players who can cross the ball.

          • mockmook

            So, some players aren’t better at it than other players?

            Interesting.

          • DNG

            I don’t think she so much better at it than other players. If you find that interesting so be it.

          • AlexH

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6eK4U_sWcs.

            Here is a montage of a bunch of her goals. I see a player who can get behind the D, cut inside and score, score from distance and score by hustling to get to the back post. I here she can also play a bit of defense. Maybe she doesn’t have each and every tool in the box but the ones she does have are razor sharp.

            Oh and she is waaaaaaay faster than Ertz who clearly has no business being on the back line especially paired up with somebody as slow as she.

          • AlexH

            Oh and she can score with both feet.

          • DNG

            Most of these goals are in transition and that’s more or less my point. I seem to have missed a few but clearly “most against set defenses” is not the case.

          • mockmook

            BTW, I realize I wasn’t clear — I’m saying make sure someone is making runs into the box, making themselves a target — I’m not saying it necessarily needs to be personnel selected primarily for their ability to be targets in the box.

          • DNG

            Yeah, I took it to mean that you were suggesting to get numbers into the box on the end of crosses. I get the impression that the team wants to get rid of relying on crosses into traffic for the majority of their offense. When that is the only avenue to create chances teams become more predictable and easy for better teams to defend. Sweden for example basically played with 3 central defenders and I think our cross happy offense made things too comfortable for them. I don’t discount the fact that it’s hard to pass through a 3 at the back defense as well but I think a real 10 would have been able to open Sweden up more. Press’ pass to Morgan in extra time was a good play even though the final pass/shot didn’t come

          • kernel_thai

            On her current run of 13 most of her goals came against a set defense not on the break. She can get goals both ways. But forget about Ohai. The US is having trouble scoring goals against good opponents. It wasn’t only SBC. They need to finish a much higher percent of chances they create. Ellis has to stop thinking it’s just about where she puts the pieces she has and consider if she has the right pieces.

          • DNG

            “On her current run of 13 most of her goals came against a set defense not on the break.”

            Come on KT that just isn’t true at all. I just went over the 13 goals because I didn’t remember all of them myself and the only two goals that came against a set defenses were the first goal against Orlando and the goal against Portland in July last year. Both of the goals this year have come in transition.

            As far as scoring goals against good opponents goes the formation and Lloyd was/is a much bigger issue than the other players.

          • DNG

            I think Ohai does some things better than Pugh, Dunn, and O’hara, and some other things worse. Probably not enough for me to move her ahead of those players. I think it’s worth inviting her to camps and giving her minutes in case injuries arise. I would want her to be familiar with the teams in an injury crisis.

            For me personally, Ohai is the type of flank player I’d like to see the team move away from, but I think she still is a useful player. The goals she scores more resemble players that get in behind even though she has scored a couple of nice goals by cutting inside and shooting. I think she needs open space to be effective even more than the others.

          • AlexH

            The type of flank player that scores goals is the kind of player that I would like to see the team move toward. The players that don’t convert their chances are the ones we should move away from no matter what style the play.

          • DNG

            She scores most of her goals like a get in behind forward and that’s my biggest issue with her. As a flank player for the NT she won’t get anywhere near as many of those get in behind chances she enjoys playing for the Dash.

          • AlexH

            She won’t get as many but she will still get her fair share. So long as she takes her chances well it puts her ahead of alot of players on team. As you said she can also cut in and shoot as well. If she perfects the flop she could be Arjen Robben’s long lost sister.

          • DNG

            I don’t really think she will. The NT wings have played below the two forwards more often than not in the last two years. She’s not good enough at scoring while cutting inside that I think it’s something huge the NT is missing and she can’t take the ball inside when there is any sort of traffic. Close control is not good enough.

          • AlexH

            Ertz maintained possession for CRS as well as Long and Horan did for Portland so that makes her a candidate for the CM position in my book. It’s not like very many international squads are going to have better midfielders than the Thorns. Ertz is still young, shows some promise at the position and if successful opens up a spot for a defender that can actually defend.

          • DNG

            I personally didn’t think Ertz was that good but I guess she wasn’t awful. The weight on her passes was all over the place at times.

          • AlexH

            So was the weight of the passes of the other WNT players that are supposedly better than her and have had way more time to perfect the position than her. She also showed pretty well at holding people off the ball which is always a good thing when fighting through pressure.

          • DNG

            I don’t really want my CM’s holding onto the ball to long when in possession. I much prefer a player like Brian who will get rid of it quickly. Horan is very good at holding weaker players off the ball to but gets into trouble when teams trap her. Ertz will be similar I think without Horan’s excellent passing range and touch.

          • AlexH

            But sometimes you don’t have that choice. The WNT isn’t Barca and our MF are going to have to gather in a lot of garbage and win a bunch of hospital balls. If Horan proves better then great, if not, we have somebody else that can step up. Ertz showed well enough to have this discussion settled on the field. It’s not like our MF has been covering itself in glory so a little competition might be just what the doctor ordered.

          • #1Fan

            are you a CRS fan, Is Ertz the best CM they have ?

          • AlexH

            No I am not. I think I pretty much was the first person on this site to regularly trash her readily trashable skills as a CB. But she has played the position well for CRS this season and this Saturday did so against a midfield that was supposedly made up of players better than her. I have no idea if she is the best, but the incumbents have no reason think that a position challenge is somehow out of the question.

          • #1Fan

            I mean best that CRS have.

          • DNG

            I don’t want Horan or Ertz starting in central midfield. I’d prefer to start Brian, Mewis, Sullivan, Long and Colaprico unless we are talking about starting Horan as a 10. Ertz is pretty far behind all or these options for me.

          • AlexH

            Sullivan is hurt, Long’s ascendance seems to have tracked the WNT’s decline, Colaprico’s own coach prefers Ertz, Brian has been a non factor as of late and there is no reason why Ertz cant compete with Mewis or Horan.

          • DNG

            It’s ironic that I see Dames’ decision to play Ertz as a CAM to be the opposite relative to Colaprico. The reason I think Dames does not have Ertz in the pivot is because he knows she can’t be trusted to make the right decision with the ball from deep in midfield. Not unlike Lloyd during the WC 2015

          • Steglitz49

            Ertz is taller than Colaprico. With Ertz and Sam Lewis, the uS midfieldl has height.

          • Steglitz49

            Moe Brian and Rose Lavelle for the midfield. To add height and muscle, Sam Mewis and JJ Ertz (I know, strictly speaking not JJ but we never knew her as Julie).

          • AlexH

            Ohai doesn’t have to win out against Pugh and Dunn though. She has to compete against them to keep their backsides warm and be ready should either of them get injured, complacent or suspended.

          • Steglitz49

            I doubt that Ms Ohai, after all this time since she scored the one winning goal in the U20 WC final, will be called upon for the senior team. Why that should be so is a question to which we may never get an answer.

          • Steglitz49

            The USWNT will never be so overconfident against and disdainful of an opponent again. They have learnt their lesson — one hopes.