The Houston Dash topped the Chicago Red Stars, 2-0, in the opening game of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
In the 14th minute, a bad giveaway in the box by Houston center back Janine van Wyk almost put Chicago on the board but the resulting shot by Stephanie McCaffrey hit the post.
The Red Stars’ loss turned out to be the Dash’s gain on the play however when the rebound popped out to Amber Brooks, who played the ball over Chicago’s high back line to Kealia Ohai. Ohai beat Julie Ertz in a foot race in on goal and slotted a left-footed shot past Alyssa Naeher to the lower right corner.
Chicago created shots but the Dash did well to clog the center channel of the field and neutralize the Red Star duo of Vanessa DiBernardo and Dani Colaprico and went into halftime with the 1-0 lead standing.
In the 73rd minute Poliana sent in a cross from the right that found Sarah Hagen. Hagen’s header was denied by Naeher and Rachel Daly almost got a foot on it but Chicago’s Samantha Johnson was there to make the clearance. Moments later, DiBernardo was denied by Houston’s Lydia Williams.
Daly sealed the game in the 80th minute on a terrific individual effort. Going 1-v-1 against Casey Short, Daly took the defender out to her right and then made an inside turn to put the ball and her left foot. The resulting left-footed shot curled into the upper 90.
An improved Dash back line held and Houston opened up the season with a win over Chicago for the second straight year. Christen Press, dangerous as ever, played a playmaker role behind Jen Hoy and Stephanie McCaffrey, but went without a clear-cut scoring opportunity, largely in part to Dash team defense that did well to throw numbers behind the ball.
Both teams return to action next weekend. Chicago hosts FC Kansas City in its home opener while Houston takes to the road to face the Seattle Reign FC.