National Women's Soccer League

PREVIEW: FC Kansas City at Houston Dash

The reigning NWSL champions and last season’s last place team enter Saturday’s match in remarkably similar situations. When Kansas City faces the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium it will make the first game for both teams without their key contigent of World Cup bound Americans.

Both teams are similar in that they have have posted one win in their three games so far and neither has won away from their home field.

FC Kansas City got its only victory of the season against the Reign on April 23, which doubled their scoring for the season. The Blues have struggled to finish their chances as they registered 36 shots and one goal in their first two matches to begin the season. Out of 46 shots this year, the Blues have converted two, a 4.3% shot efficiency rate. Despite a roster stacked with talented forwards and midfielders, the Blues have failed to meet the attacking promise shown on paper.

Kansas City also leads the league with U.S. allocated players and four of the Blues’ Americans are headed to the World Cup. It seemed likely Domi Richardson would start in place of Becky Sauerbrunn at center-back, but Richardson is out for the game with a left hamstring strain. FC Kansas City called up amateur and Kansas City’s second-round pick Meghan Lisenby who could play at center back.

The Blues will also deal with the loss of the attacking trio of Lauren Holiday, Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez. The trio scored 30 goals combined last year (O’Reilly for Boston) and FC Kansas City will depend on Sarah Hagen and Erika Tymrak to step up. The Blues also called up amateur forward Caroline Kastor.

The Houston Dash will look to rebound from their first loss of the season, a 3-2 loss to the Boston Breakers last Saturday. Despite the winning goal being an own goal off Carli Lloyd, the Dash disappointed in their last match with USWNT players. The Dash grabbed one out of six possible points in their last two road games and will hope to make up for that back in Houston this Saturday.

Saturday’s loss became even worse for the Dash when it was confirmed center back Stephanie Ochs tore her ACL. Ochs appeared in all 24 games for the Dash and converted from forward to left back to center back, helping to reinforce the club’s struggling defense. With Ochs out for the season, there isn’t a clear replacement center back. Canadians Allysha Chapman and Lauren Sesselmann will provide help at defense for this game, but when the two leave for national team duty, the situation is murky since Brittany Bock hasn’t recovered from last season’s ACL injury. Canadian Erin McLeod will be at Saturday’s game but will not play due to a left ankle sprain.

This is the Dash’s first game without their World Cup bound Americans, Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian and Meghan Klingenberg. Without Bock, Lloyd, and Brian the midfield might struggle but the Dash are relatively deep at midfield compared to its defense.

The Dash called up amateurs Jen LaPonte, Cami Privett, Allie Bailey, and goalkeeper Jordan Day. It will be an Aggie reunion for Kansas City amateur Meghan Lisenby and Dash amateurs Jordan Day and Allie Bailey.

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