The Houston Dash fell 2-0 to Sky Blue FC tonight at Zions Bank Stadium in the team’s third match of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. A pair of first-half goals by Sky Blue were enough to see the New Jersey squad through to victory on the evening.
Sky Blue opened the scoring 17 minutes in when forward Paige Monaghan slipped in behind the Dash back line to get on the end of a through pass from forward Ifeoma Onumonu. Onumonu took possession 25 yards from goal and drew a pair of defenders before slipping the ball between them and into space for Monaghan to run onto, leaving her alone against goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
Forward Nahomi Kawasumi doubled Sky Blue’s lead in the 34th minute when she collected an errant clearance from Campbell and quickly lofted a shot from 30 yards that caught Campbell off her line.
Houston came out aggressively in the second half, as midfielder Kristie Mewis raced down the left flank into the box and drew contact which prompted a shout for a penalty kick, but referee Tori Penso waved off the Dash and whistled for a Sky Blue goal kick.
Mewis was dangerous on several occasions throughout the second half, popping up on both flanks and finding pockets of space in behind a deep-lying Sky Blue back line to create chances, although the Dash were unable to find the final ball needed to break through for a goal.
The Dash continued to press Sky Blue, looking for chances, and nearly created one midway through the second half when forward Rachel Daly picked off the ball and threaded a diagonal pass through the defense to forward Nichelle Prince, but Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan was quick off her line to help cut out the threat.
Houston now face a quick turnaround before their fourth and final group stage match on Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. CDT when they take on the Washington Spirit. Despite the defeat, the Dash remain tied for second in the NWSL Challenge Cup table – along with four other squads – meaning that the final round of matches will have a lot to say about seedings for the knockout rounds. Houston and Washington played twice in 2019, with the Dash taking the season series 1-0-1.