The Keeper’s Notes On … The Inaugural Dash NWSL Game

Six years ago tonight the Houston Dash kicked off their inaugural NWSL season with a home game against the  Portland Thorns. More than 8,000 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium watched a close match between the league’s first-ever expansion club and the 2013 defending NWSL champions. Below are a few of the Keeper’s Notes on the game, plus a link to the complete game video if you are unable to catch the Dash’s official Twitch broadcast at 7:30 pm CT.

• The broadcast pregame includes highlights of the Dash’s short history — the mid-December announcement, the January expansion draft, the NWSL college draft, the unveiling of the inaugural uniforms, the February fan event at the stadium and the March preseason match versus Texas A&M.
• (Then) Houston mayor Annise Parker makes a special presentation to (then) Dash president Chris Canetti and (then) NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey.
• The young girls who score the “ceremonial first goal” for Dash are accompanied by (then) Houston Dynamo captain Brad Davis, who just two years before scored the first Dynamo goal at BBVA Compass Stadium.


• This was the first NWSL game for head coach Randy Waldrum, who had spent the previous 15+ years at Notre Dame, winning the NCAA Div1 title in 2004 and 2010. The Dash opening day roster included Brittany Bock, who played for Waldrum at Notre Dame; later in the season the club acquired Melissa Henderson, another Fighting Irish alum. Waldrum also had coached several NWSL players on the U-23 US women’s national team.
• Four starters made their professional debuts in this match — Kealia Ohai (the club’s first draft pick), Jordan Jackson, Ari Romero and Holly Hein. Nigerian defender Osi Ohale made her NWSL debut in this game.
Brittany Bock injured her knee early in the game, and ultimately left the game in the 23rd minute. She did not play again for the Dash until May 2015.
Becky Edwards nearly claimed the first NWSL goal in Dash history in second-half stoppage time, but the attempt was ruled offside. Edwards started this game, along with the next 22 for the Dash, and led the club with 2,070 minutes played. The only reason she didn’t play the final game of the season (a rescheduled road match against Sky Blue) was because she had to report to Sweden for her next contract.


Then you should pre-order the first-ever Dash Almanac, published by Keeper Notes. The 130-page book features a complete player registry, lineups for every game of every season, lots of color photos, stat leaders by season and much more.

The almanac is due to ship by May 1. A sneak preview of the Dash Almanac is available here. Keeper Notes also publishes an annual 300+ page NWSL Almanac, available in both print and PDF.



• This game features Emily Menges‘ professional debut, plus the first NWSL appearances for Amber Brooks, Becca Moros and also German star Nadine Angerer, who flew directly to Houston from Germany for this match after playing two Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
• This match marked the NWSL debut for head coach Paul Riley, who replaced Cindy Parlow Cone after the inaugural NWSL season. Riley spent two seasons with the Thorns before moving to the head coach job at Western NY Flash (2016) and then North Carolina Courage (2017-present).
Allie Long got the game’s only goal, assisted by Jessica McDonald (who was acquired by Houston the following season). Just three weeks later Long would earn her first USWNT cap in a friendly against Canada.


• The 2014 Dash roster included two USWNT allocated players — Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg — but they were not able to join the club until June, due to Champions League commitments with Swedish club Tyresö. Both played in the 2014 Champions League final against Wolfsburg.
• Canadian allocations for the Dash included veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod, defender Lauren Sesselmann (who sat out the 2014 season due to an ACL tear) and later Kaylyn Kyle, acquired from Boston in a May trade. McLeod was named the club’s first captain.
• Mexican national teamer Teresa Noyola was directly allocated to Houston; El Tri teammate Ari Romero had been allocated to the Seattle Reign for 2014, and was acquired by the Dash in the expansion draft.
• USWNT stars Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath were injured at the time so were not available to play for the Thorns in this match.


• The lower bowl of BBVA Compass Stadium (now BBVA Stadium) held approximately 7,000 fans at the time (before one section was removed a couple years back to make space for the “Pitchside Patio”). This match sold enough tickets (8,097) to open up the upper level sections.
• Look for the “Don’t Make Me Angerer” incident between Dash striker Ella Masar and Portland keeper Nadine Angerer in the 74th minute.
• The Dash faced Portland three times in 2014 as part of the first “balanced schedule” in NWSL history. All three meetings were 1-0 Portland wins.
• Both team captains were Canadian — Christine Sinclair and Erin McLeod.
• The Nike ad shown several times during the broadcast was the brand’s official 2014 World Cup ad.




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