The Houston Dash open their fifth season in the National Women’s Soccer League today against the Chicago Red Stars.
The Dash return to Texas after a 10-day trip to Portland, Oregon to finish their preseason preparations, where they finished with a 1-1-1 record against Portland Thorns FC, the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team and Chicago at the Thorns Spring Invitational.
That was the first test for first-year head coach Vera Pauw, who joined the club last November. Pauw brings more than 15 years of experience as an international manager. The Amsterdam native modified the roster throughout the offseason with the help of assistant coach Lisa Cole and managing director Brian Ching. Nine players return from last season’s team, including U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper Jane Campbell, England international Rachel Daly and 2017 Team MVP Amber Brooks.
The current roster also includes 12 players that have represented their country at the international level like Canadian forward Nichelle Prince, South African defender Janine Van Wyk and forward Simon, who is currently in Australia recovering from an injury.
Three draft picks from the 2018 NWSL College Draft join Houston on opening day as midfielder Haley Hanson and forwards Veronica Latsko and Kimberly Keever begin their professional career at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Houston’s mix of youth, international additions and league veterans welcome the Red Stars to BBVA Compass Stadium for the third consecutive opening day match. Houston defeated Chicago in their past two opening-day meetings.
Chicago enters the 2018 regular season seeking a fourth consecutive playoff appearance as 16 players return to the club from the 2017 season. Chicago’s defense is anchored by USWNT defender Casey Short and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The Red Stars will rely on USWNT forward Sofia Huerta to spark an offense that finished sixth in goals scored throughout the regular season with 33 a year ago.
This will be the first of three meetings between both clubs, and the only meeting at BBVA Compass Stadium this season. Houston will remain at BBVA Compass the following week as they host the league’s newest franchise, Utah Royals FC at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 30.