Despite new faces, first day of preseason is "already on the right foot" for Houston Dash

The beginning of preseason brought smiles, renewed optimism and many new faces to Houston Sports Park for the start of the Houston Dash’s third season in the NWSL.

“It was good to knock the rust off and touch the ball,” Dash forward Rachel Daly—the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft—said. “I’m one of the new players so I’m still adjusting. We got together over the weekend for a barbeque and watched the Dynamo game at BBVA Compass Stadium. Little things like that help a lot.”

The Harrogate, England, native was one of 25 players at Dash preseason camp on Monday morning under the direction of third-year head coach Randy Waldrum. Waldrum was pleased to see that even with several new players in the mix, no one shied away from getting right in the middle of practice.

“It looks good. We’ve got a lot of new faces this year,” Waldrum said. “I didn’t see anybody that wasn’t jumping right in. There was nobody just waiting to see what happened. The chemistry is already on the right foot as far as the team’s togetherness goes. The young ones look like they are going to fit in very well with the way we want to play.”

For players like Bianca Henninger, a four-year NWSL veteran, the offseason came with various international commitments to keep busy. Henninger joined the Mexican National Team for the Four Nations Tournament and the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

“I’d rather be busy than hanging out. We were kind of in a weird spot with that six to four month offseason. It was nice to fill it with [competitive games],” Henninger said. “I think everyone was knocking out the first day jitters and the nerves a little bit. We worked through them and it was nice to play there at the end. We got a little bit competitive and that’s always fun.”

The team gets its first taste of competition against another squad this Saturday against Baylor University at Houston Sports Park. This game is free and open to the public.