Preview: Houston Dash (a).
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
When? Friday June 3, 5.30 p.m. PT, 8.30 p.m. ET and 01:30 BST (4/6).
Where? PNC Stadium, Houston, TX.
How can I catch the action? The game is being broadcast on Paramount+ for residents of the United States and Twitch for international supporters.
The Orlando Pride will be looking to build on their come from behind draw with the Washington Spirit, when they face managerless Houston. Acting head coach Sarah Lowdon is doing a good job of steadying the ship following James Clarkson's suspension for cause. The Dash have lost only once since Lowdon took over and are currently on a 4 match unbeaten streak.
The Dash don't seem to have allowed the situation around Clarkson's suspension to impact on them too much; they looked good in their recent win over Portland, and got a credible draw against the Courage last time out. They'll have Rachel Daly available too, as she's not due to depart for the Euros until June 6th. Daly's presence is huge for the Dash, she's talismanic for the club; she already has 3 goals and 1 assist through 5 games. This will be a difficult game for Orlando. But it's one they can win, if they take care of the ball.
Houston utilise an interesting style of play, one that's not necessarily in keeping with the rest of league. Teams in the NWSL are starting to put more and more emphasis on possession, whereas Houston seem quite happy to let the opposition have the ball, before hitting them in transition. So far, Houston have averaged 42% possession, playing 340.9 passes per game (figures 1 & 2). They win a relatively high percentage of their tackles (66.9%). They also rank 3rd in the NWSL for successful tackles per match, with 16.2. They're more than happy to let you have the ball, before they pick your pockets and counter.
They key to the game for Orlando, is going to be how they take care of the ball in possession. Houston are great at winning it back and have players such as Sophie Schmidt and Marisa Viggiano, who are more than capable of hitting their athletic front players with balls into the area or the channels. The hold up play and pace of Nichelle Prince and Daly usually allow the likes of Shea Groom to profit with well timed runs into the area, although the erstwhile FC Kansas City midfielder has yet to get off the mark this season.
Figure 1 shows Houston's possession average for the season so far.
Figure 2 shows some of Houston's passing statistics for the season so far.
The Houston Dash currently have a clean bill of health heading into this game, according to the latest NWSL player availability report.
The Orlando Pride, however, have no such luxuries. Abi Kim, Caitlin Cosme and Marta are all listed as out.
This section will be updated as new information becomes available.
Edit 6/2: Carrie Lawrence is out with a rib injury and Meggie Dougherty-Howard is subject to Covid protocols. Erika Tymrak and Celia are questionable.
Possible starting XI
The Dash typically line-up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, which allows them to play out from the back and push their wide players high. I think they'll line up something like this:
The Lionesses player has started the NWSL season in great form, having scored 3 and assisted 1 on the season so far. Daly will not report to the England camp until June 6th, so will likely line up against Orlando. Daly is one of the best forwards in the league, but will likely fill a number of holes when called upon by Sarina Wiegman at the Euros this summer. Orlando will need to keep close tabs on her, if they are to escape Texas with a clean sheet.
Houston have started the season in good form, despite their off field controversies. Houston have a 2-2-1 record and sit 4th in the table, having won 2 and drawn 2 of their last 4.
The Pride are sat on a 2-2-2 record, and currently occupy 6th spot. The Pride will be looking to get back to winning ways having dropped points in their last 2 games.
Cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Top player image courtesy of Houston Dash.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com