A year ago, the Houston Dash had just selected its first group of players from the Expansion Draft and the club was preparing to go into the NWSL College Draft with the second overall selection. While the inaugural season did not go as well as planned, the Dash will look to improve upon a 5-16-3 record in 2015.
Houston holds the first overall selection and has not been shy about naming Morgan Brian as the player it will be going after. Brian was named the MAC Herman Trophy winner Friday, making her just the fifth player to win the award twice.
After struggling to score last season, a key find for the Dash will be a consistent goal scorer. Only three players scored four goals last season—Kealia Ohai, Nina Burger and Tiffany McCarty—which accounted for half of the club’s total goals on the season. Ohai has the potential to shred defenses with her speed and finishing ability but needs a partner up top who can play off of her.
Jordan Jackson was a bright spot, notching two goals in 20 appearances. She was an option up top or as a wide player in the midfield.
With three key losses across the backline and Klingenberg likely being gone on international duty, Houston will need to look to free agency or the draft to fill in the gaps defensively. Abby Dahlkemper (UCLA) will likely fall in the top five selections but the Dash will likely look to Kristen Grubka (Florida State), Arin Gilliland (Kentucky), Caprice Dydasco (UCLA) or Megan Oyster (UCLA) with their second-round pick.
Key Stats: 44 goals allowed, 23 goals scored
Key Losses: Whitney Engen (D, traded to WNY), Arianna Romero (D, traded to Washington), Osinachi Ohale (D, waived), Becky Edwards (M, traded to WNY), Nina Burger (F, waived)
Additions: Carli Lloyd (M), Rachael Axon (M), Ashley Nick (M), Poliana (D), Rosana (M)
The Dash made two trades that bookended three international signings in Houston. Bringing in the Brazilians adds a creativity and flair to a club that struggled offensively last season.
Rosana and Poliana both come to the Dash after playing for São José in Brazil. Rosana has plenty of international experience as well as professional experience having played for Sky Blue FC in WPS in 2009-2010. Poliana is young, creative outside back who will bring an attacking mindset to the backline.
The Dash also signed English midfielder Rachael Axon, who comes to the Dash after spending much of the last several years playing professionally in Norway. Unlike the Brazilian duo, Axon is slated to be with the Dash during the World Cup—likely being one of the few internationals who will remain in NWSL—which gives the Dash (some) continuity between pre-World Cup and post-World Cup.
Draft Picks: No. 1, No. 13, No. 31