We Houston women's soccer fans were thrilled to discover a few months ago that we'd been able thanks to the Houston Dynamo to get an expansion franchise in the National Women's Soccer League that is supported by the United States, Canadian and Mexican soccer federations.
The Houston Dash on Wednesday ended that inaugural NWSL campaign with a 1-0 road loss in New Jersey to Sky Blue FC.
The Houston Dash were born in a frenetic dash (pun intended) of offseason activity starting in December 2013 when they became the first ever NWSL expansion club and the second owned and operated by an MLS parent club. Retired Dynamo star Brian Ching was named as the club's managing director as he and team president Chis Canetti set about the task of building a club in the Houston Dynamo mold of being a scrappy, team oriented unit that could compete for a top four NWSL playoff spot immediately.
Randy Waldron was hired as the team's head coach January 3 and the Dash selected Kealia Ohai with the first pick in the NWSL draft as they built their inaugural team.
When they took it to the defending league champion Portland Thorns in a 1-0 loss in their inaugural game at BBVA Compass Stadium in front of 8,097 people April 12 and had a tying goal in stoppage time disallowed, it looked like the Dash were on the right track to actually meeting that lofty goal of competing for a playoff spot in their inaugural season.
But season ending injuries to Lauren Sesselmann, Aya Sameshima and Brittany Bock.the 0-6-1 stretch between the April 20 comeback 3-2 first franchise win against Boston and the 2-1 May 31 win over Western New York, lack of team depth, international call-ups, and lack of experience playing together as a cohesive unit eventually doomed their chances to make the playoffs.
The Dash finished last in the NWSL with a 5-18-3 record, but nine of those losses were one goal games, and that leads to hope of better results in 2015.
The Dash also have a dedicated fan base. Despite only winning twice at BBVA Compass stadium this season, the Dash's average attendance of 4,650 was second in the NWSL behind soccer mad Portland.
The ninth place finish means we'll have the number one overall draft pick in 2015, but it is hoped that with time to use the long offseason to improve the team and put them on the road to being consistent threats to compete for and win the NWSL title.