It was the league's first expansion team but has never made the playoffs in six league seasons.
It barely topped average
attendance of more than 4,000 fans a game in 2019, getting little bump from the Women's World Cup excitement while other teams shattered club attendance records.
That was no surprise --
Houston was the only NWSL team with no player on the U.S. championship team.
Dash players Morgan Brian, Meghan Klingenberg and Carli Lloyd played for the USA when it
won the 2015 World Cup but were later traded. The low point came in 2018 when Christen Press returned to Sweden rather than accept a trade to Houston. (She ended up in Utah later in the
All that is behind the Dash now.
In a stunning turn of events, Houston won the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup -- and did so in convincing fashion, completing its run to the
title on Sunday with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Stars.
“It wasn’t luck," said English striker Rachel Daly, the tournament MVP. "It wasn’t fluke. We comfortably
won that game. We’ve comfortably won a lot of games.”
The Dash was the only higher seed to win a game in the knockout stage and finished as the tournament's highest-scoring
team and didn't allow a goal in its final three games.
July 26 in Sandy, Utah Houston 2 Chicago 0. Goal: Schmidt pen. 5; Groom (Daly) 90+1. Houston -- Campbell, Hanson,
Oyster, Naughton, Chapman, Groom, Mewis (Kizer 29), Schmidt, Visalli (Latsko 78), Daly, Prince (Simon 87). Chicago -- Naeher, Ertz, Sharples (Goralski 68), St. Georges (Bingham 89),
Gorden, DiBernardo, Colaprico, Watt, Hill, K.Johnson (Morse 79), McCaskill (Doniak 78).
Shea Groom and Daly finished as the tournament's top scorers with three goals apiece -- Daly
won the Golden Boot by virtue of her assist on Groom's insurance goal -- but Kristie Mewis personified the Dash's perseverance.
Mewis, the older sister of
U.S. national team star Sam Mewis, came to Houston in a trade from Chicago in August 2017 -- nine days after she was traded from Washington to the Red Stars. Houston was Mewis' sixth team in
five seasons, but she missed almost a full year when she tore her ACL in May 2018. Mewis, who has also spent time at teams in Japan, Australia and Germany, played well enough in 2019 that she was
called in for the national team's ID camp under new coach Vlatko Andonovski, who was her coach at FC Kansas City in 2013 when she entered the NWSL and she earned the first of her 15 caps for
Mewis's dribbling caused problems throughout the Challenge Cup. In the fifth of the final, she took a pass from Daly, went right at Chicago's inexperienced outside back, Kayla
Sharples, and was taken down for the penalty kick Sophie Schmidt converted for the game's first goal. Mewis was one of five Dash players who started all seven games in Utah, but she had to
leave the game midway through the the first half, reduced to tears with a hamstring injury.
Dash starters: Goalkeeper: Jane Campbell, 25 (signed out of Stanford Univ. in 2017) Defenders: Haley Hanson, 23 (signed out of Nebraska Univ. in 2018) Megan Oyster, 27 (acquired
from OL Reign in 2020) Katie Naughton, 25 (acquired from Chicago Red Stars in 2020) Alyssa Chapman, 31 (acquired from NC Courage in 2018) Midfielders: Shea Groom, 27
(acquired from OL Reign in 2020) Kristie Mewis, 29 (acquired from Chicago Red Stars in 2017) Sophie Schmidt, 32 (acquired from FFC Frankfurt in 2019) Midfielders: Bri
Visalli, 25 (acquired from Birmingham City in 2020) Rachel Daly, 28 (signed out of St. John's Univ. in 2017) Nichelle Prince, 25 (signed out of Ohio State Univ. in 2018)