With a four-game unbeaten streak on their side, the Dash look to continue their newfound momentum this weekend as they take on rising U.S. Women's National Team star Mallory Pugh and the Washington Spirit. Below are three things to be on the lookout for ahead of Saturday's game:
Consistency and playing your game are common messages for the Houston Dash. With seldom good results early on in the year, the message was not always showing through in match performance. After four matches undefeated, however, it’s a message that’s starting to settle in for a team with improving confidence.
“I think when you’re kind of in shambles and losing games, you’re dropping games, it’s easy for everybody to point fingers and say, ‘Oh, this is what we need to do,’” head coach Omar Morales said. “Then when things start going the right way that’s when the team starts believing in what we’re doing and buying into what we’re doing.
“I think that’s what’s happened the last couple of weeks. It’s more we know what we’re doing and have an identity with what we’re doing, and they’ve bought into it, and it’s easy to adjust and change things.”
With the Washington Spirit coming to town, keeping that positive run of results going is something the club is finally feeling ready to do.
“I think we’ve always felt we have the ability and the talent, but it’s hard to really and truly have confidence when you’re not getting the results,” said center back Amber Brooks. “For sure the confidence is building. I don’t think it ever left, but the results are helping.”
2. On the lookout for speed
Continuing that run of form will require the Dash to be speed cops Saturday night. With an improved defense spurring the Dash’s good fortune, keeping an eye out this Saturday for the quick Mallory Pugh and her compatriots is job one.
“For the back four, we know we need to be really alert with the two up front that are really pacey,” said center back Janine Van Wyk. “It comes down to the reading of the game and getting in positions really early to block through-balls to those quality players.”
3. Lineup shuffles continue
Houston will be looking to combat the Spirit’s quick attack with their own; but will do it without star Carli Lloyd, whose suspension following a controversial red card against the Portland Thorns will keep her out of the game.
“I think one big thing to be said about this team is that our depth is good. We have players that can come off the bench that have done a good job for us,” Morales said. “There has to be change because of Carli, but Morgan (Brian) coming back from injury is going to help and bringing in some of those young players should provide a spark for this weekend.”
Getting Brian back, as well as Bruna Benites as a defensive option, has the club feeling comfortable with replacing their star against the Spirit.