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he Houston Dash travel to Providence Park later today to face the Portland Thorns for the second time this season.

Houston continues a two-game road trip after defeating Racing Louisville FC 4-0 on Sept. 26. Four players found the back of the net in Kentucky and Houston looks to continue their offensive momentum that saw the team score five goals in a victory over Tigres Femenil on Sept. 19. Forward Bri Visalli has scored in back-to-back games and has capitalized on key minutes in Houston’s final stretch this season. Visalli is in her second year with Houston after two seasons in England.

Houston trails in the series this season with a 0-2-1 record in all competitions against the Thorns this year. Shea Groom scored for Houston in the first meeting of the year, a 1-1 draw in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup on May 2. The Thorns capitalized on a defensive error in the first minute of the match on July 24 to earn three points at BBVA Stadium. Houston and Portland tied 2-2 in their 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup match on Aug. 18 and the Dash fell in penalty kicks.

Houston is scheduled to host the Thorns for the third and final meeting of the regular season on Oct. 17. The match on Oct. 17 is Houston’s final regular season game at BBVA Stadium and the third match in the final stretch against a team currently in a playoff spot. The Dash close the regular season on the road against the Washington Spirit on Oct. 31.

Here are the three key points ahead of today’s game:

  1. DASH ENTER WITH MOMENTUM: Five players have scored for Houston in their last two games and the Dash look to find the back of the net against the top team in the league table later today. The Dash picked up crucial points over those two games, as they look to secure their first playoff berth in franchise history. In their most recent match against Racing Louisville FC, the Dash set their regular season high in goals scored with four, all of which came from different players. Among those scorers was FW Nichelle Prince, who was recently named Canada Soccer’s Player of the Month for September. The award comes on the back of both her stellar performance for the Dash and her contributions to Canada’s gold medal run in the 2020 Olympics.
  2. DALY RETURNS FROM INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Rachel Daly is back with the Dash after a brief stint with the England Women’s National Team. While with the Lionesses, Daly started in two FIFA 2023 World Cup qualifying matches. In the first, England took down North Macedonia by a final score of 10-0. In the second, England defeated Luxembourg 10-0, with Daly scoring in the 93rd minute. This goal was particularly significant for Daly, as it marked her first since the passing of her father. While FW Bri Visalli has held up admirably in Daly’s absence, which included her scoring her first career NWSL goal against Louisville, the England national’s return will be much appreciated for a Dash team that is fighting for a spot in the postseason.
  3. THORNS LOOK TO CLINCH POSTSEASON BERTH: Portland can secure a spot in the NWSL playoffs with a win over Houston in tonight’s match. If they do not win, they need a little help from NJ/NY Gotham FC. If NJ/NY defeats Washington, the Thorns will clinch a playoff appearance. If the Spirit win or tie against NJ/NY, Portland only needs to tie with Houston to secure its spot in the postseason. The Thorns have made the playoffs in six out of seven years of operation, excluding the 2020 Challenge Cup. In their previous matchups this season, the Dash have lost twice and drawn once with Portland, with the lone draw coming in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup.