Fresh off of the Lionesses’ monumental victory at Euro 2022, an announcement has been made that a must-see friendly beckons. Sarina Wiegman’s side will welcome the USWNT to Wembley Stadium in early October, and the tickets have sold at a record speed.
Turning attention to the NWSL, though, and there will be a major clash this weekend. OL Reign and the Houston Dash are both performing well, and the pair will go head-to-head at Lumen Field.
NWSL: The Houston Dash are working their way up the table
Two in-form teams
OL Reign are coming fresh off of a road trip that provided mixed success. A penalty was the difference in favour of Kansas City whilst Welsh star Jess Fishlock was on target in both California and Louisville. It was a 3–2 thriller at Banc of California Stadium in which Fishlock was joined on the score sheet by Tobin Heath and Sofia Huerta. Also, the 2021 NWSL MVP found the back of the net in the opening minutes of a 1–1 draw versus Racing Louisville.
Prior to that, Laura Harvey’s team were unbeaten on home soil, winning four of the five games and conceding just twice. These two goals came in the 2–2 draw against the Portland Thorns, meaning there were four shut-outs. The spread of the goals is impressive; Bethany Balcer scored three across those four games, plus Rose Lavelle and Fishlock were in and amongst it again.
Now to the Houston Dash, who are experiencing a good run heading into August. It has been quite up and down in truth, but they are currently on the up with two wins in a row. They beat both Gotham and the Chicago Red Stars, putting eight goals on the board in the process. Ebony Salmon, who will be touched on later, was particularly fruitful in front of goal and earned NWSL Player of the Month honors for July.
The win at Red Bull Arena against Gotham was one of a few away from home for the Dash. They’ve won on the road against the likes of Portland and Kansas City, not to mention a nail-biting 4–3 win at the North Carolina Courage. Elizabeth Eddy scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half to really make the difference in Cary.
The History of this fixture
OL Reign have met the Houston Dash eight times in their modern iteration, with the change from Seattle Reign coming between 2018 and 2019. In this period, the fixture comes fairly balanced. There have been three draws, three Reign wins and two games going the way of Houston.
The pair are yet to clash in 2022, but there were four meetings in 2021. It began with a 0–0 draw in the Challenge Cup before the Houston Dash won 2–0 on home turf. Some of the aforementioned names were again amongst the goals for OL Reign. These being Fishlock, Huerta and Balcer along with French forward Eugenie Le Sommer as they romped to a 5–1 victory.
Ebony Salmon has a new lease of life with the Houston Dash
As previously mentioned, Ebony Salmon has come to the fore for the Houston Dash. She was the only shining light in a poor Bristol City side. Upon their relegation, she swapped the WSL for the NWSL.
Despite forming a strong partnership with Nadia Nadim in Louisville, they could not get the best out of the young English striker. She scored from the penalty spot against Gotham to take her tally to four after hammering home a hat-trick in the romp over the Red Stars.
It goes without saying that on the other side of the fixture, there are plenty of goals too. Several names have already been mentioned, and that isn’t including the star-power of Megan Rapinoe and Kim Little. Plus, Canadian Jordyn Huitema recently made her debut in the win over Angel City.
OL drew with Louisville earlier this week. Now they’ll be ready to go with the Houston Dash fixture looming. It will be fourth place hosting third, with the pair on the coattails of Portland and the San Diego Wave. Can the Dash make it three wins on the bounce?