Preview: Portland Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash
By NWSL news
(July XX, 2014) – Kealia Ohai and the Houston Dash fight to keep from being eliminated from the playoffs Sunday against defending champions Portland Thorns FC in a match broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
While Portland comes into the game pushing for the playoffs, the Dash will be looking to stave off elimination. Houston will be officially eliminated with a loss to the Thorns.
Coach Randy Waldrum’s side saw their three-game unbeaten run snapped on Wednesday in a 4-1 home loss against Seattle.
Despite the setback, forward Kealia Ohai continued her strong rookie campaign – scoring her fourth goal of the season in the game to tie Tiffany McCarty for the team lead.
The match Sunday is the first of a two-game road trip to the Pacific Northwest for the Dash that will also see them travel to play the Reign for the second time in a week.
The Dash will be looking for their first win against a side in the top five after accumulating a 0-10-3 record so far this season. Houston, however, is 5-1-0 against fellow bottom four teams.
The Thorns come into the match after not doing their title defense any favors in Week 16 with a 5-0 road loss at the hands of league-leading Seattle Reign FC and saw their place in the standings slip to fourth following the Washington’s Spirit’s victory Wednesday.
Portland enters the weekend with a two-point lead over the Chicago Red Stars for the final postseason berth – but do not control their own destiny, having played one more match than their playoff rivals.
With that in mind, the Thorns will be intent on securing all three points against the Dash – who they have already beaten twice this season. However, Portland will have to make do without midfielder Tobin Heath – who will miss her fourth-consecutive game with a right-knee injury.
Coach Paul Riley will also possibly be without defender Rachel Van Hollebeke after the U.S. international suffered a concussion in the first-half of the loss to Seattle last week. The Del Mar, Calif. native’s absence could prove especially problematic for the Thorns, who have recorded just three shutouts in 21 games this season.
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Photo courtesy of Portland Thorns and Houston Dash