HOUSTON — It was almost the dream start for the Dash.
The brand new NWSL franchise overflowed their stated goal of the 7,000-seat lower bowl and wound up with 8,097 at BBVA Compass Stadium for their first-ever game as a franchise.
They unleashed several young players and they helped turn in a performance that had Thorns coach Paul Riley singing their praises. And one veteran, Becky Edwards, who looked her old self in her first league match since tearing her ACL last summer.
The only problem: they lost 1-0.
“I thought we were,” Dash coach Randy Waldrum said about whether the Dash were better than the league champions between the 18-yard boxes. “I may change my opinion when I watch the video tonight and see it again. I did think there was a period in the second half, the first 15 minutes or so, we had a really slow start. They kind of had a handle on us a little bit, and then I think the players calmed back down and did a better job of kind of regaining our form a little bit.”
The Dash were already down 1-0 by halftime after Allie Long took advantage of some defensive confusion on a deep throw-in and hit a glancing header at the perfect angle to beat Houston goalkeeper Erin McLeod. That they settled down after a slow start to the second half despite starting a very inexperienced back line and having to adjust their midfield after Brittany Bock left with a knee injury speaks well of the young players Waldrum has brought on.
Waldrum was particularly pleased with his central defense pairing of Holly Hein and Osinachi Ohale. Hein made the club as an undrafted rookie and Ohale is also inexperienced despite having played for Nigeria in the 2011 World Cup.
“I think Hein and Osinachi, with the firepower they had, were really good,” Waldrum said. “And I think Becky was really a calming effect in there.
“They’ve got a very potent offense and I think we handled that.”
Not only did they handle it, they handled it in front of the second-largest non-Portland crowd in NWSL history.
“I would definitely like to shout out to the fans and to thank them,” he said. “We need them to come back because that was huge for us. That push, late in the game when we were trying to get the goal, and it was loud as could be and it really helped. So I hope they keep coming out.”
Even though the match ended 1-0, the fans gave a pretty good account of what they might sound like when the Dash score a big goal. Becky Edwards put one in deep into stoppage time and everyone in the stadium—including Edwards—thought it was 1-1. But Edwards was offsides.
“From a crowd standpoint and a performance standpoint, I couldn’t have asked for a better night,” Waldrum said. “If that last goal could have (counted) and we could have ended up 1-1, it would have been a dream come true.”
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