The Houston Dash’s 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup triumph might have been the best underdog story in all of sports last year. Many of the stars who were there are still on hand and that continuity is what keeps Houston’s stock high, even if the 2021 NWSL campaign hasn’t gone according to plan in recent weeks.
A whopping six players have been gone due to Olympic play in the last few weeks, so the WICC will be the first look at a full-strength Houston since the opening phase of the NWSL season where it was collecting wins at a more consistent pace.
Head coach James Clarkson will be hoping there is still some leftover adrenaline from the tournament with three of his Olympians taking part in Canada’s gold-winning effort.
Veteran midfielder Sophie Schmidt, defender Alyssa Chapman and winger Nichelle Prince return from Tokyo with Gold medals on their resumés, joining bronze medalist Kristie Mewis and English superstar Rachel Daly among the Dash stars returning from their Olympic exploits.
Daly and Prince return to the fold and that instantly gives the Dash one of the scariest attacks in the NWSL. Even with the lengthy Olympic departure, Daly’s two NWSL goals still see her share the team lead in that statistic.
The returns of Mewis and Schmidt reunite with Shea Groom to round out one of the more talented midfields in all of American women’s soccer.
On the backline, Chapman will take her place at right back to aid an inked-in centerback pairing of Kate Naughton and Megan Oyster.
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell did not see any action with the USWNT in Tokyo but is a starting lock in Houston. Her and her shot-stopping superpowers should go a long way in the tournament environment.
When the Dash are at their best, they are hard to hang with. Do not be fooled by the current NWSL standings.
In the aftermath of last year’s Challenge Cup win, several involved mentioned that they felt the team is built for a tournament. A win over the Portland Thorns is achievable, and as they proved last year, the Dash are more than capable of pulling out an upset in the final.
Houston Dash Roster for WICC
Jane Campbell, Amanda Dennis, Lindsey Harris
Deneshia Blackwood, Allshya Chapman, Jamia Fields, Haley Hanson, Katie Naughton, Megan Oyster,
Hannah Diaz, Makamae Gomera-Stevens, Shea Groom, Andrea Hauksdottir, Kristie Mewis, Christine Nairin, Emily Ogle, Cami Privett, Sophie Schmidt, Gabby Seiler
Michelle Alozie, Rachel Daly, Veronica Latsko, Nichelle Prince, Maegan Rosa, Annika Schmidt, Jasmyne Spencer, Bri Visalli