"Unsung hero" Becky Edwards holds young Houston Dash team together in the midfield
The best teams need grit as well as glitz. With twelve goals in their past six matches, the Dash are delivering on preseason promises of exciting, attacking soccer. It may not be obvious, but recent results owe plenty to the energy of a box-to-box midfielder who works like a stagehand to set the scene for the team’s success.
“An unsung hero for me is Becky Edwards,” Dash head coach Randy Waldrum told reporters after the club’s first-ever NWSL home win was claimed with a 2-1 victory over the Western New York Flash on Wednesday night.
“Everybody knows she’s great, everybody knows she’s a good player but she’s not one that is scoring goals or catches your eye. She’s just workmanlike and it’s very efficient and it’s very professional and she’s been good from day one. She’s kind of been the glue that’s held things together for us, especially since Brittany Bock went down,” he added.
The win over the Flash was the Dash’s third NWSL victory in a row, but they have little time to celebrate. They are back at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday (8 p.m. CT, TICKETS) to face FC Kansas City, who are second in the NWSL standings. The teams drew 2-2 on May 18.
“We’ve got to get through it. Three games in seven days in this heat, but this is what we’ve prepared all preseason for,” Edwards told HoustonDashSoccer.com. “We have players who are ready to step in and put in a performance for us. We’ll just have to manage our bodies, take care of ourselves and recover and we’ll be good to go on Saturday.”
The 25-year-old former Florida State University standout is the only Dash player to have played every minute so far this year, proving with a series of all-action performances that she is fully recovered from a season-ending ACL tear suffered with Portland Thorns FC a year ago.
Edwards breaks up opposition attacks with fearless tackles and starts Dash moves with simple passes to set up speedy forwards such as Tiffany McCarty and Kealia Ohai. And her work-rate and fierce commitment sets a consistent tone for her teammates regardless of how Houston’s fortunes are fluctuating on the pitch.
On Wednesday, a sharp finish from McCarty—her third goal in her past two games—gave the Dash a lead that was canceled out by a superb chip by Adriana Martin shortly after the hour mark. But the Dash roared back only two minutes later, claiming the winner via a penalty kick goal from substitute Teresa Noyola. Some spirited defending preserved the three points for Houston and brought them a little slice of home history.
“I think we came out to come out and play our game like we did and get three points, that’s what we were working towards, but it’s always nice to make history, and to get that first home win,” said Edwards. “We’ve been in that situation before and I’m proud of the girls for the way that we fought back once again.”
Waldrum said that closing out the win while under pressure symbolized how the side has matured in recent weeks. “We hung on a little bit at the end but that’s what you have to do to win games. We weren’t able to do that earlier in the year but we’re starting to find ways to be able to get better organized. Overall, really proud of the effort,” he said.
“It’s what we believed we could do all along. People don’t understand the dynamics of this team, unless you’re in the locker room and you see how these women fight for each other and pull for each other. Even those battles we were losing, losing [four] games in a row, it was just the idea that ‘we’ll get a win, we’ll get it right. It’s just going to take us a little time’.”
Edwards agreed. “We’ve been in every game, small details and small mistakes prevented us from getting those wins. I think and I hope that things are starting to come together a little bit more,” she said.
“I think the younger players are getting more experience, with [USWNT defenders Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg] coming in they bring a different level and I just hope things are coming together. We have a young team and they’re getting experience and seeing what the league is all about, and we just need to keep on building.”
And to build something solid, something that will last, you need glue to stick all the pieces together. In Edwards, the Dash have found a player who does precisely that. It is not a glamorous role, but it is essential.