On a hot and humid Friday night, the Houston Dash hosted the Portland Thorns for the first time this season. After playing 567 minutes without a goal, the Dash provided not one, but three and effectively shutout the first place team.
Houston's goal drought answered in first half
From kickoff, the Dash were able to maintain good possession. Though there had a scare or two, it was nothing defenders and goalkeeper Bianca Henninger couldn’t control. Houston’s goal drought finally ended in the seventh minute, when English international Rachel Daly was able to find the back of the net. This is Houston’s first goal since May 7 and Daly’s first goal since scoring in Houston's home opener. The rookie forward almost did it again three minutes later, but Portland’s keeper Michelle Betos was quick to dive to the ball. The Thorns didn’t make keeping the lead easy, attempting to string together attacks, but the Dash were able to keep them away.
"I think we all agreed when we got in the locker room that it still wasn't good enough," Coach Randy Waldrum said about being up 1-0. "The key going in was everybody was really focsed on trying to get the second goal."
In the 27th minute, forward Chioma Ubogagu was fouled just outside the box, and Daly’s ball in forced a huge save from Betos. The rest of the half was very back and forth, with both teams trying to find the back of the net. Portland grew antsy as time went on and they couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 40th minute Thorns midfielder Meleana Shim received a yellow card for a foul on defender Ellie Brush. Veteran defender Kat Williamson, who is still coming back from surgery, was subbed out in the 45th minute and replaced by rookie Sam Lofton. Despite the Thorns' efforts, the Dash kept the lead.
Second half explosiveness
The second half started well for the Dash, who earned a corner in the 50th minute only to have Amber Brooks’ header just barely go over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Irish international Denisse O’Sullivan tried her luck at the top of the box only go wide. As the half went on, it seemed to look like play was evening out. Portland was able to string together attacks and tested Henninger on the other end. In the 68th minute, Houston was able to find the back of the net again with midfielder Amber Brooks.
After the Dash’s second goal, Portland became more threatening than they had for most of the game, forcing Henninger to make a couple of crucial saves. Though they tried, they were still unable to find the back of the net as time ticked away. Frustration showed in play, as Thorns forward Hayley Raso earned herself a yellow card in the 81st minute after a reckless foul. Houston wasn’t done scoring yet, though. In the 83rd minute, forward Kealia Ohai found her first goal of the season despite Betos getting a hand to the ball. That was the final blow to the Thorns, who were unable to answer any of the goals that were scored. The Dash won 3-0, making this their first game without conceeding a goal since April 29th.
What this means for both teams
With the win, the Dash remain at ninth place on the table, but are a secure seven points ahead of last place Boston Breakers. Portland remain at top of the table, tied for first with the Washington Spirit.