Dash seek to improve in 2015


Wilf Thorne/Houston Dash

Houston Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod is part of what head coach Randy Waldrum believes could be a good nucleus going into the 2015 NWSL season. The team will hold open tryouts at the Houston Sports Park Feb. 20 and 21, and preseason camp begins March 9.

Maria Smith, Staff Writer

The Houston Dash finished the 2014 season with a 5-16-6 record, but the team’s head coach feels optimistic the team is on an upward trajectory.

An influx of new talent, along with some off-season acquisitions, gives Randy Waldrum’s squad a shot in the arm as the Dash begins its work for their sophomore season. That work begins Feb. 20 as the team holds the first of its two-day tryouts at the Houston Sports Park.

According to the team, 20 to 25 players will be selected and called for the second day. A second-day match between those players will help team brass determine which players move on the preseason camp, scheduled to begin March 9.

This is going to be a great opportunity for amateur players to show up in the professional world and help the team.”

The Dash opens the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League regular season April team with a home match against the Washington Spirit at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The team picked Virginia midfielder Morgan Brian with the top pick in the NWSL College Draft in January while picking up English midfielder Rachael Axon in November.

Houston Dash also got the rights for midfielder Ashley Nick from Sky Blue FC in exchange for draft position in the second and fourth rounds of the 2015 NWSL College Draft. The Dash now holds the third pick in the second and fourth rounds of the College Draft, while Sky Blue FC has the first pick in those rounds. Houston retains the first overall pick in January’s draft.

Nick, who is 27, signed with Sky Blue FC on December of 2013 NWSL season and made 25 regular season appearances, beginning as a starter in 19 of those games, with one goal during her time with the New Jersey club. Nick also started in Sky Blue FC’s playoff match against the Western New York Flash in the 2013 NWSL Semifinals, playing the game’s full 90 minutes. The midfielder is currently finishing her duty with Apollon Ladies FC of the Cypriot First Division, where she also started both legs of the club’s UEFA Women’s Champion’s League against Brøndby IF of Denmark.

Other additions to the roster were Niki Cross, Veteran defender acquired via trade with the Washington Spirit on Dec. 2. Allysha Chapman, Canada international defender acquired by the Dash via allocation on January 14, 2014.

It’s a nice blend of youth and experience that will keep the team going,” Waldrum said.

Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, at 31-years-old reached the 100-appearance line on Nov. 24, in a friendly match against Sweden at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The St. Albert, Alberta, native is just the 12th player to reach the centennial mark for Canada. Dash’s team captain was named Team MVP and Players’ Player of the Year after making 83 saves in 20 appearances, starting 19 of those games during the 2014 season.

Also, Midfielder Carli Lloyd and Defender Meghan Klingenber were called up by the U.S Women’s national team. Lloyd, who is 32-years-old has earned 183 caps for the United States, scoring 61 international goals. The attacking midfielder led the U.S. by scoring 15 goals, 8 assists and starting 23 out of 24 games in 2014. She also earned the Golden Ball award at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship and was named a finalist for U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. Klingenberg, who is 26-years-old has made 23 appearances for the national team. The Pittsburgh native started two matches during the United States’ runner-up finish at the International Tournament of Brasilia in December.