The Orlando Pride (0-4-1, 1 point) remain winless in 2019 after falling to the Houston Dash (2-1-1, 7 points) 1-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX. This was the first game of the season without the U.S. internationals, and Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner could have used some of the attacking power from Alex Morgan. Houston’s Kealia Ohai beat Alanna Kennedy and Erin Greening in the seventh minute on a shot that no goalkeeper in the world could stop to give the hosts all three points.
Skinner went mostly with the expected lineup with Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, and Morgan out. Haley Kopmeyer was the obvious choice in net and Greening was the like-for-like replacement for Krieger at right back. Skinner went with Chioma Ubogagu, Marta, and Rachel Hill on the front line, and Joanna Boyles started in the midfield with Emily van Egmond and Dani Weatherholt.
The game was all Houston to start, and the Dash took full advantage of it. In the third minute Ohai took on Greening, and the rookie got the better of her. Ohai learned from her mistake though and just four minutes later got the better of Greening. The Pride were in good shape with two defenders on Ohai, but Houston’s forward cut back inside, beating both the fullback and Kennedy and took a perfect, bending shot into the side netting that Kopmeyer had no chance of keeping out.
Houston was the better team for most of the first half, and although possession favored the Pride (54%), the Dash did more with their opportunities. When Orlando got the ball, the Pride were too sloppy with it and turned it over. Meanwhile, Houston got right down the field and continuously got into threatening positions.
Orlando should have tied it up in the 11th minute. Carson Pickett did well to create space before putting in a perfect cross to Hill. The forward mistimed her run and couldn’t get her head to it, and the scored remained 1-0.
The Dash then should have made it 2-0 in the 29th minute, but Kopmeyer came up huge. The ‘keeper stood up strong and remained patient as Rachel Daly closed in on her. With Kennedy hustling back, Daly was forced to shoot, and it went directly at Kopmeyer.
The game then took a hydration break and whatever Skinner said to his team must have worked because the Pride gained some momentum after the brief stoppage.
Marta had two golden opportunities in the 37th and 38th minutes but couldn’t convert either of them. First, Hill put in an excellent cross and Marta jumped over two defenders, and her header hit the crossbar. A minute later, Marta had a chance to make up for the miss. The Brazilian took a shot, but this time it sailed over the bar, missing by inches.
Just before halftime Hill should have evened the score at one, but again she missed an open header inside the 18. This time it was Ubogagu who sent in the cross, and it looked like Hill just missed on the header.
Hill should have had two goals in the first half, and Marta was unlucky not to at least have one. The Brazilian got up and down and was all over the entire field, but she couldn’t do everything on her own. Boyles also did well in the midfield. The Dash finished the half with 12 shots, half on target. Orlando had just four shots and none making it on frame. Orlando held more possession (54%), but Houston did more with the ball when it got it.
The second half was slower than the first and had fewer chances from both teams. Orlando looked the better team for the most of the half but once again struggled in the final third. Neither team had any good chance for a while until Hill put the ball in the back of the net in the 52nd minute.
Marta sent in a free kick from just in front of the center circle. Houston defended it, but Weatherholt used her head to keep the ball in play. It fell to Hill, who moved just offside before putting it behind Campbell. Hill looked onside at first, but replays confirmed what the referee saw.
The Dash got right down the field and should have made it 2-0. Nichelle Prince sent a great ball in to Ohai, who was open on the back post. Luckily for Orlando, she mistimed the volley attempt.
As time ran out, the Pride struggled to do much with the ball. Skinner brought on Camila and Abby Elinksy around the 70th minute, but neither changed the game much. The Dash did an excellent job of defending as a team and saw the game out.
The story for the Pride is a trend that has been happening all season. Orlando finished the game with nine shots and none of them were on target. Meanwhile, the Dash had 17 shots, nine on target.
The Pride are back in action next Saturday when they host the Portland Thorns at 7:30 p.m.