The Houston Dash earned their third victory of the season and second straight win away from hom this afternoon as they topped Utah Royals FC 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Dash forward Rachel Daly led the way with a pair of goals on the day, her second and third of the season. The goals gave the England international her fourth career brace and were enough to improve the team to 3-1-1 on the year. It was Houston’s first win against Utah, who joined NWSL in 2018.
Utah forward Amy Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 29th minute when forward Vero Boquete eluded two defenders and found Rodriguez inside the box to the left of goal. Rodriguez ran onto the through pass and slid a left-footed shot across the goal and inside the right post.
Daly equalized things just before halftime when she pressured Utah into a defensive miscue and picked up a loose ball outside the box in the 42nd minute. After forcing the turnover, Daly raced alone toward the penalty area before tucking a right-footed shot from the top of the box inside the far-left post.
The forward gave the Dash the winning goal near the beginning of the second half, when she ran on to a chipped pass from defender Ari Romero behind the Utah back line. Similar to her first goal, Daly found herself in space to the right of goal and this time rifled a low right-footed shot past Royals goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and inside the left post to put Houston up 2-1 in the 50th minute. The assist was Romero’s first for the Dash this season.
Despite having the ball just over 34 percent of the match, Houston outshot Utah 11-7 on the day. Houston’s first attempt came in the 16th minute, when Daly sent a long ball into the box where midfielder Sofia Huerta fired a shot that was cleared by the Utah backline. As the Dash continued to test their luck, defender Satara Murray found midfielder Kristie Mewis inside the box in the 40th minute to force a save by Barnhart at the near post.
The Royals had their first shot on goal in the 26th minute when Royals forward Katie Stengel got in behind the Dash back line, but Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell was up to the challenge.
The Dash continued to press, threatening the Royals goal with a last attempt in the first half. Huerta received a ball from Daly that the midfielder cut inside the box and shot to the far-right post, forcing another save on Barnhart.
Shortly after Daly’s game-winner, forward Kealia Ohai nearly put the game away on a breakaway down the left flank off of a pass from Murray. Ohai raced in on goal, but her left-footed shot found the side of the net.
Houston successfully killed off the final half-hour to walk away with the win, but had to endure a pair of nervy moments late on. Utah forward Makenzy Doniak found space at the byline to the left of goal in the 87th minute and lofted a cross which drifted toward the net before catching the top of the crossbar. Houston then had to see out the final four minutes of stoppage down a woman after Daly was sent off in the 90th for what referee Natalie Simon deemed to be violent conduct.
The victory gave Dash head coach James Clarkson his third victory of the season and second on the road. With three wins and a tie through their first five games, Clarkson and the Dash are off to the best start to a season in club history.
The Dash return home next week to host Casey Short and the Chicago Red Stars at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The match will be streamed live on Yahoo! Sports.