Challenge Cup Preview: Houston Dash
Houston aims to improve on last season's finish
Rachel Daly looks to lead the line once again for Houston (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos)
Rachel Daly looks to lead the line once again for Houston (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos)

Team Name: Houston Dash

Head Coach: James Clarkson

Last Year’s Finish: 7-5-12, 7th overall

James Clarkson’s first season in charge saw more positives than their record would lead one to believe as Jane Campbell was a stalwart in net and despite time in France for the Lionesses, Rachel Daly had one of her best seasons yet, netting five goals in seventeen league matches.

Key Players In: Shea Groom, Katie Naughton, Erin Simon, Katie Stengel, Brianna Visalli

Key Players Out: Sofia Huerta, Kealia Watt, Lindsay Agnew, Megan Crosson

Player to Watch: Erin Simon (DEF)

In an effort to bolster their backline, Houston signed the ever-versatile fullback from West Ham United, where she enjoyed a successful season and a half stint which included a start at Wembley against Manchester City in the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final. For a club who gave the majority of fullback minutes to only two players last season, Simon’s arrival is massive – especially as head coach James Clarkson alluded to the importance of tactical versatility in Utah this summer. Expect to see Simon as a stalwart in Houston’s Challenge Cup lineups across the backline.

Challenge Cup Outlook: On paper, the Dash have addressed problems on each side of the ball in quite a meaningful way. Groom and Stengel will work to provide firepower up front and support the ever-potent Daly and Kristie Mewis, while Visali and Naughton provide strength and technical ability on the backline. James Clarkson has lauded this year’s group as more versatile and technically gifted than in years past, and the Dash’s improvements might see them make a deep run in the Challenge Cup.

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