The Dash will take to the field for their first match just over four months after the club was founded, with managing director Brian Ching and coach Randy Waldrum building the team’s roster during that period.
Houston signed all four of the team’s picks from the 2014 NWSL Draft before the start of the regular season and Waldrum will have Kealia Ohai (No. 2 overall), Rafaelle Souza (No. 10 overall), Marissa Diggs (No. 11 overall) and Jordan Jackson (No. 28 overall) at his disposal Saturday against Portland.
In addition to the class of rookies, the Dash boasts a contingent of NWSL veterans – including goalkeeper Erin McLeod, midfielders Teresa Noyola and Brittany Bock as well as forward Ella Masar, who scored a hat trick in Houston’s final preseason game.
Dash midfielder Becky Edwards will be facing off against her old team. The Downingtown, Pa. native played 10 games for Portland last year before suffering a season-ending injury (torn ACL) to her left knee during training on June 13.
Both Edwards and fellow midfielder Meleana Shim were selected by the Dash during the 2014 NWSL Expansion Draft. However, Shim was traded back to Portland in a deal that brought midfielder Nikki Washington and the No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 NWSL Draft (Diggs) to Houston.
The match will be the first competitive game for the Thorns since they lifted the NWSL championship trophy August 31 following a 2-0 victory over the Western New York Flash in the league’s first title game.
For the Thorns, the match Saturday will be their second consecutive season-opener on the road after playing in the inaugural NWSL game against FC Kansas City last year.
Paul Riley, who replaced Cindy Parlow Cone as Portland coach during the offseason, is not expected to have star forward Alex Morgan (left ankle) available. However, Riley will have a host of players to choose from last year’s championship squad – including Canada international Christine Sinclair, Allie Long, Shim and U.S. international defender Rachel Van Hollebeke.
Portland also made a major addition during the offseason – adding Germany international goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who was a finalist for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or award given to the women’s world player of the year.
Following the home-opener, the Dash will head out on the road for their next two matches with trips to face the Boston Breakers and Seattle Reign FC before returning to BBVA Compass Stadium to face FC Kansas City on May 3.
The Thorns travel to face Sky Blue FC in Week 2 before returning to Portland for their home-opener April 26 against FC Kansas City at Providence Park.
Reminder of the full 2014 NWSL Schedule
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