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Wilf Thorne / Houston Dash

Houston Dash travel to the Garden State for duel with Sky Blue FC

The Houston Dash (2-6-1, 7 points) return to NWSL action this Saturday as they travel to the Garden State to meet Sky Blue FC (3-4-4, 13 points). The New Jersey club fell to Portland Thorns FC 2-1 last Saturday ending a four-match unbeaten streak. Sky Blue forward Tasha Kai scored her second goal of the season in the first half. Taylor Lytle found the Hawaiian striker outside the six-yard box with a chipped ball that Kai guided toward the far post. That was Lytle’s fourth assist of the season and she is tied with Washington Spirit’s Crystal Dunn and Western New York Flash’s Jessica McDonald for the second most assists in the league.

In addition to Lytle and Kai, potential impact players include the second overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, Raquel Rodriguez. The Costa Rican defender scored her first goal of the season in Sky Blue’s 2-1 victory over the Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex on June 25. After five games at the Maryland SoccerPlex, the 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy winner was the first player to score against the Spirit in 2016. Forward Leah Galton finished with two assists against the Spirit and has three on the season.

The New Jersey club is led by Christy Holly who is in his first season as the head coach. Holly was previously an assistant coach at Sky Blue FC and brings more than 16 years of coaching experience at various levels in the U.S. and his native Ireland.

Like the Dash, the New Jersey club will miss national team players for this match. Kelley O’Hara (USWNT) and Samantha Kerr (Australia) have reported to their national team training camp in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games.

Christie Rampone will be available for this match after she withdrew from the USWNT camp in May. The center back has earned 311 caps for the USWNT, second-most all-time.

The two clubs last met on April 30 playing to a scoreless draw. Goalkeeper Caroline Stanley finished that game with five saves, including two outstanding saves against Dash rookie Rachel Daly. This will be the last meeting of the regular season, and Sky Blue lead the all-time series with a record of 3-1-3.

Projected Starting XI: Caroline Stanley; Erin Simon, Kristin Grubka, Christie Rampone, Erica Skroski; Leah Galton, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle, Raquel Rodriguez; Catherine Zimmerman, Tasha Kai

You can watch the match at HoustonDashSoccer.com/Live. The Dash return to BBVA Compass Stadium on July 16 to host Portland Thorns FC for Pride Night. For tickets and additional information, visit HoustonDashSoccer.com/Pride.

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