Sam Kerr continued her goal scoring dominance in the National Women's Soccer League Saturday night in Houston, Texas. Kerr scored two goals on four shots in the first 13 minutes. Both goals came within five minutes apart to earn Kerr her ninth brace in her NWSL career. Houston Dash midfielder Sofia Huerta pulled one back for Houston late in the first half but could not find an equalizer. Chicago Red Stars midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo celebrated her 100th NWSL appearance, all with the Red Stars, with an assist on Sam Kerr’s second goal.
Former teammates find the back of the net
Kerr began her scoring in the eighth minute when Michelle Vasconcelos sent a through ball to a sprinting Kerr at the top of the box. With a quick move to her left, Kerr got away from Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell and slotted a left footed shot home between two retreating Dash defenders. The Chicago striker would finish off the brace from a quick give and go with DiBernardo that helped her get away from fellow Matilda and Dash defender Clare Polkinghorne. Again one on one with Campbell, Kerr fired a right footed shot over the falling goalkeeper to put Chicago up by two.
Huerta would get some revenge on her former team by scoring in the match’s 26th minute. The midfielder collected a free ball in the Dash’s attacking half and skipped a left footed shot into the bottom left corner of the net past the diving outreach of Chicago goalkeeper Emily Boyd cutting the Red Star lead in half. In the 38th minute Boyd robbed Huerta of an equalizer, knocking the ball away with a kick save. Dash defender Amber Brooks sent a long ball to Kealia Ohai on the left side who found a streaking Huerta in the center of the box. Huerta’s sliding deflection at the 6 yard box could not beat Boyd for possibly the save of the week.
Defensive second half
In the second half the match turned into a defensive battle. Houston backline of Arianna Romero, Satara Murray, Clare Polkinghorne and Amber Brooks kept Kerr and Chicago offense at bay in the second allowing zero shots on goal. While Houston had the majority of chances in the second half, Chicago defender Casey Short and Houston’s Ohai had many battles. Short had help from fellow defenders Arin Wright, Sarah Gorden and Katie Naughton to hold Houston to only three shots on goal and blocking three more. Chicago now sit atop the league with 11 points and Houston falls into in the second spot tied with Utah Royals FC with 10 points.
Next on the schedule
Houston Dash will travel to Reign FC on June 2nd. While Chicago Red Stars will host Washington Spirit on May 26th. Most international players will leave their NWSL squads for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup such as Kerr and Polkinghorne. Kyah Simon is expected to join Australia in pre-tournament preparations but was not named to the final squad.
Houston Dash Substitutions: Simon min. 54 (McCoy), Kizer min. 84 (Narin), Fields min. 86 (Ohai).
Chicago Red Stars Substitutions: Johnson min. 59 (Stanton), Sanchez min. 78 (Vasconcelos), Elby min. 90+4 (DiBernardo).
Yellow Card: Stanton min. 49, Murray min. 59