The National Women’s Soccer League continues with week two action, and on Saturday the Houston Dash defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-1. Dash defender Natalie Jacobs was credited with an own goal, but Houston forward’s Maria Sanchez and Diana Ordonez scored in the victory. It is the first time in league history that two members of the Mexican women’s national team have scored in a regular season NWSL match.
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Here are some takeaways from the match:
Ordonez and Sanchez score first goals with Dash
The Dash got off to a quick start testing the space behind the Red Stars’ three back. It took four minutes to produce a goal as Houston’s front three continue to build their chemistry this season. Ordonez’s movement and Ebony Salmon’s skill on the ball completely stretched the backline as Sanchez scored the opening goal.
Despite the Red Stars eventually playing their way into the match, the Dash spent more time on the ball in possession (52.3%) and exited the first half with more shots (three) and attempts on target (three), though Chicago’s ability to earn set pieces and corners kept them within striking distance in the half.
Ordonez’s game-winner came after a lengthy VAR check and the second-year player converted. All eyes are on the Texas native after her 11-goal record-breaking rookie season with the North Carolina Courage before a summer trade. A missed chance on target in week one left room for improvement, and Houston’s attacking three is still working out their chemistry, but a defensive breakdown for the opening goal and a penalty kick conversion to insure three points is just the start for the team.
“Very happy with the front three and also with Ryan [Garies} and Cam [Tucker] and Havana [Solaun] who came off the bench and really supporting the team,” Dash head coach Sam Laity said after the game.
But from the perspective of [Ordonez], you know she’s our number nine, so I think they always want to score. I think things will be a little bit easier for now…She scores goals, it’s what she likes to do, so I’m happy for her and happy for the team.”
Red Stars downed by VAR in two consecutive games
In year one of VAR in NWSL matches, the Red Stars now have two games where the technology has led to game-winning penalties for the opposition. A late-stage handball in week one against San Diego and an errant foul inside the box in week two were all justifiable offenses as the league is integrating VAR moving forward. The team is aware of the scenarios and Chicago head coach Chris Petrucelli is mostly focused on missed opportunities rather than how the losses have come.
“I mean the chances were there, there were chances for sure,” Petrucelli told media in post-game comments. “Our quality when we had the ball wasn’t typical of us. I felt like we gave the ball away too many times, the goals come from us giving the ball away. And I think in any game you play, you know you’re never going to finish all your chances, and we did have some, but credit to them. They deserve to win the game.”
Ordonez, Houston Dash: After a scoreless week one, Houston’s big offseason acquisition opened her goal-scoring account — a penalty kick conversion for the game-winner. But better positioning on the pitch and overall chemistry with her wingers were the real bright points. Check out her goal:
Sanchez, Houston Dash: She earned the start after a small knock kept her out of the opening day lineup. The winger got into dangerous spaces on the pitch and was a constant mark for Chicago’s defense after her opening goal.
Casey Krueger, Chicago Red Stars: Krueger’s return hit a brief pause in week one when she was subbed out in the opening ten minutes of the match against San Deigo as a precaution. The outside back provided lockdown one-on-one defending and a presence on set pieces down the stretch. Her presence is a welcome return to the team after being out last season on maternity leave.
“I love playing with Casey, I’ve loved playing with her since day one,” veteran Chicago defender Arin Wright said afterwards.
“When she’s on, I feel like we don’t even have to communicate. She sees me on that backside and [gets] that ball, that cut back all the way across the field to me. She hit it probably three times in the game, which we struggled with that ball. We’re like dying as wingbacks for someone to see that. Casey is a great player. She makes everyone else around her look great, too. So I mean she’s such an asset to have on our team.”