Houston Dash Profile

Major Honours NWSL Challenge Cup (1)
Year Founded 2013

The well-known club were one of the first expansion franchises in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The NWSL played its first season in 2013 after the WPSL (Women's Premier Soccer League) ended, and the Dash were awarded a franchise on December 11, 2013, ahead of the 2014 season.

The name Dash refers to the running speed of a horse, which was the main mode of transportation in Texas in the 1800s. Their colour scheme is orange, black and sky blue, similar to the MLS' Houston Dynamo.

The Dash's ownership group is the same as that of the Houston Dynamo. This includes superstar boxer Oscar De La Hoya and NBA star James Harden.

Oscar De La Hoya

Former Dynamo player Brian Ching was named the first managing director of the Dash, and he served in that position until the end of the 2019 season.

The Dash and Dynamo both play at Houston's BBVA Stadium, which opened in 2012 at a cost of $95million.

Texas Southern University play football in the stadium, which has a capacity of 22,039. BBVA Stadium has also hosted international soccer games and rugby union matches.

Randy Waldrum era

The Dash named Randy Waldrum as their first manager heading into the 2014 season.

Waldrum coached college soccer at the University of Tulsa (men and women) from 1989 to 1994 and the University of Notre Dame (women) from 1999 to 2013.

At Notre Dame, he won two NCAA National Championships in 2003 and 2010. Waldrum was also hired as the Trinidad and Tobago women's national team coach in 2014.

In the NWSL Player Allocation, they picked up US national team defender Whitney Engen from Tyreso in Sweden. They traded Melissa Tancredi to Chicago for Canadian national team goalkeeper Eric McLeod.

The Dash selected US national team defender Meghan Klingenberg and Canada national team defender Lauren Sesselmann in the Expansion Draft.

The story begins

Houston played their first-ever game on April 12, 2014, a 1-0 home loss to the Portland Thorns. Eight days later, they earned their first win at Boston Breakers, with Teresa Noyola scoring twice in a 3-2 victory.

After six losses and a draw, Houston won three straight games from May 31 to June 11. From there, it all fell apart as they won just once in their final 11 games with two draws.

With five straight losses to end the season, Houston finished in last place with five wins from 24 games. They scored 23 goals and conceded 44 for a goal difference of -21, the worst in the league.

The Dash were led in scoring by Kealia Ohai, Tiffany McCarty and Nina Burger, who each had four goals, while Stephanie Ochs had a team-best three assists. McLeod was the team captain and finished the season with three clean sheets.

The Dash made a big move on October 16, 2014, when they traded Engan, Becky Edwards and a future draft pick for US national team star midfielder Carli Lloyd.

Carli Lloyd, USWNT, United States

Lloyd scored in the first game of the 2015 season, a 2-0 home win over Washington Spirit.

The Dash picked up another win in May before Lloyd, McLeod, Klingenberg and Sesselmann all left for the 2015 Women's World Cup. The Dash picked up one win, one draw and two defeats without the quartet.

Lloyd returned with a goal against FC Kansas City in a 1-1 draw on July 20 and bagged the game winner against her former team, Western New York Flash, five days later.

She made it three games in a row with a goal on July 29 as Houston beat Kansas City 3-2. Lloyd, who had won the Golden Ball at the World Cup, was named NWSL Player of the Month for July with three goals in three games.

Houston lost the next four to fall out of the play-off spots before beating Boston 1-0 on August 30. They drew their final game of the season and finished in fifth place, one spot outside of the play-offs.

Houston bagged 24 points in 2015 with 21 goals scored and a -5 goal difference. Jessica McDonald led the team with seven goals in 20 games, while Lloyd scored four times in 12 games.

Changes in the roster

Heading into the 2016 season, the Dash lost McLeod and replaced her with Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams. They also added England national team forward Rachel Daly and Brazilian defender Poliana.

Lloyd and Daly scored in the season opening 3-1 win over Chicago, but the Dash lost six straight games from May 7 to July 9 as Lloyd was injured.

Rachel Daly, England, 2019

Daly and Ohai both scored in a 3-0 win over Portland on July 16, and Daly scored again a week later in a 1-1 draw against Chicago.

She made it three games in a row with a goal and Ohai scored twice in a 3-3 tie against Western New York on July 30. Ohai was to score in five straight games from here and twice earned NWSL Player of the Week.

The Dash finished the 2016 season in eighth place with 22 points. They won six games and scored 29 goals, also conceding 29.

Ohai was named in the NWSL Team of the Year, the first such honour for a Dash player. She led the team with 11 goals, while Lloyd scored five times in just seven games and Daly added four.

For the 2017 season, the Dash acquired Canadian forward Nichelle Prince and allowed Lloyd to be loaned to England's Manchester City for the pre-season.

Ohai and Daly scored in the season opening 2-0 win over Chicago, but Houston won just once more in the first nine games. Waldrum was let go on May 29, 2017, with 19 wins, 39 losses and 13 draws over three-and-a-half seasons.

Post-Waldrum years

Assistant coach Omar Morales took over for the rest of the 2017 season. The Dash enjoyed a six-game unbeaten streak from June 24 to July 22 with four wins and two draws.

In the June 24 game, Ohai tore her ACL and missed the rest of the season. Houston traded for defender Kristie Mewis on August 30, but they lost five games in a row and drew 1-1 against Kansas City in the season finale.

Kirstie Mewis, Washington Spirit, 2017

As a result, Houston finished in eighth place with 24 points from 24 games and a -16 goal difference. Daly led the team with five goals in 23 games, while Poliana scored four times.

Lloyd played in just eight games all season with two goals scored, and Ohai scored two goals in 10 games.

On November 27, 2017, the Dash hired Dutch native Vera Pauw to be their new head coach. Pauw had managed women's national teams in Scotland, the Netherlands, Russia and South Africa before joining the Dash.

Lloyd was traded on January 18, 2018, in a three-team trade that landed US national team forward Christen Press, but Press decided instead to sign with a team in Sweden.

The 2018 campaign

Houston started the 2018 season with two draws and three losses before beating the Sky Blue 3-2 on May 5. The Dash won two in a row on May 23 and 27 before drawing 1-1 against North Carolina Courage on June 3.

They alternated wins and losses for the next eight games before winning two straight on August 11 and 17.

Houston were eliminated from play-off contention with three games left as they lost to Seattle Reign 2-0 on August 21.

The Dash finished the 2018 season in sixth place with 32 points from 24 games and a -4 goal difference.

Daly led the team with 10 goals while Ohai returned from her ACL injury to score five goals in 17 games. Both Daly and forward Sofia Huerta were named in the NWSL Second Team.

The James Clarkson era

Pauw left the Dash after the 2018 season and James Clarkson was hired on December 11, 2018. An Englishman, Clarkson had coached with the Houston Dynamo Academy from 2007 to 2018.

Huerta scored to give Clarkson his first win on April 20, and the Dash had just one loss in their first five games while accumulating 10 points.

They then went winless over six straight games with some of their stars gone at the 2019 Women's World Cup. The Dash beat Sky Blue on July 28 but lost three of the next four to fall out of play-off contention.

Houston finished the 2019 season in seventh place with 26 points. They scored 21 goals and conceded 36 in the campaign.

Jane Campbell, United States, USWNT, 2021

Daly and Huerta led the team with five goals each, while Mewis scored four times. Huerta had a team-leading four assists while goalkeeper Jane Campbell had six shutouts.

Ohai, who became Kealia Ohai-Watt in the off-season, was traded to the Chicago Red Stars on January 6, 2020. She left as the team's all-time leading scorer and one of the final remaining players from the inaugural 2014 roster.

In exchange, the Dash picked up defender Katie Naughton from Chicago along with a draft pick. They also traded Huerta and Amber Brooks to Reign FC for forward Shea Groom and defender Megan Oyster, while also acquiring forward Katie Stengel from Utah Royals FC.

The 2020 season spoiled by COVID-19

The 2020 NWSL regular season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Eight of the league's nine teams met in Utah for the NWSL Challenge Cup at the end of June.

In the preliminary round, Houston won one, lost two and drew one to advance to the knockout round as the fourth seeds.

In their first knockout game, they drew against Utah Royals 0-0 before winning 3-2 in a penalty shootout. In the semi-finals, Daly scored in the 69th minute to beat Portland Thorns 1-0.

Four days later, Sophie Schmidt put the Dash ahead against the Chicago Red Stars with a penalty kick in the fifth minute. Groom sealed the title with an added-time goal as Houston won 2-0 to earn their first-ever NWSL trophy.

Daly was named Challenge Cup MVP and was then loaned to England's West Ham United for the rest of 2020.

In the 2020 Fall Series, Houston won three games and lost one to finish in second place. Schmidt, Groom and Veronica Latsko scored three goals each in the four games, while Mewis scored twice.

Houston Dash's top players

Carli Lloyd is by far the biggest name ever to play for the Dash. She appeared in 27 games in three seasons, with 11 goals scored and three assists.

Kealia Ohai-Watt holds the single season record for goals with 11 in 2016 and also has the franchise record with 28 goals in 114 games. She added 16 assists with a career-high five in 2015. Rachel Daly scored 27 goals and added 10 assists in 87 career games for the Dash.

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell has had 75 starts with 16 clean sheets. She had a career-high and team record six clean sheets in 2019 and has saved seven of 15 penalty kicks faced.

Erin McLeod started 30 games in her two seasons with the Dash, securing four clean sheets.