After a tough loss in their first road match of 2016, the Houston Dash return to BBVA Compass Stadium this Friday to host Sky Blue FC (7:30 p.m. CT; TICKETS). With co-captain Carli Lloyd injured, the team will need the surrounding talent to step up as they face two playoffs teams from last season in the next three weeks.
“We have built a deep squad this season. There has been a lot of competition for playing time and with the recent injuries it is a great opportunity for other players to step in and get minutes,” Dash managing director Brian Ching said. “We are confident that the level of play will not drop significantly like it has in the past when we were missing key players.”
Ching highlighted rookie forward Rachel Daly, named the NWSL Player of the Week in the season's opening week, as one of those players that will be looked upon to continue her contributions. Daly has a goal and two assists this season and expects a challenging game from Sky Blue FC on Friday.
“We are excited to return to BBVA [Compass Stadium] and it is a great opportunity to bounce back against a good team,” Daly said. “They had a tough result this weekend, but pulled off a great win to open the season [against Seattle Reign FC].”
The rookie forward emphasized that the team will continue its attacking approach that has led to four goals in two games.
“This team is built to attack,” Daly said. “The players on the field are aware of their responsibility and our approach is to play on their side of the field.”
While the loss of the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year is a significant one, head coach Randy Waldrum is satisfied with the options he has not only in the attacking third, but across the entire squad. The Dash welcomed the return of Morgan Brian from injury on Saturday, playing 65 minutes, and were able to bring a regular starter in Kealia Ohai off the bench after Lloyd's injury.
“With Carli’s injury this weekend along with Melissa Henderson’s during our preseason, our depth this season will provide us the opportunity to challenge for a playoff spot," Waldrum said. "Obviously when you lose Mel for a few weeks and then Carli you lose a big part of your team. However, we’ve done a really good job this year of building depth in all four lines."
Sky Blue FC opened the regular season with a 2-1 victory over Seattle Reign FC at Memorial Stadium and fell to the Washington Spirit 2-1 on Sunday. The first 1,000 fans over the age of 21 that attend Friday's match will receive a free beer courtesy of Randy Waldrum and the Houston Dash. For more information and tickets, visit HoustonDashSoccer.com/tickets.