Preview: Spirit travels to Houston for first regular season contest in six weeks

Washington Spirit  |   August 18, 2023
Preview: Spirit travels to Houston for first regular season contest in six weeks Featured Image

Houston, Texas (08/18/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Houston Dash in both sides’ 16th match of the 2023 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 8:30 p.m. EDT at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston, Texas and will broadcast nationally on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. Viewers in Canada can watch on TSN+ while other international viewers can stream the match on


The Spirit

The Spirit is coming off a 1-0 victory against the Orlando Pride in the team’s last 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match of the season.

  • The shutout marked goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart’s 56th career clean sheet (all competitions), extending her NWSL record. Additionally, national team replacement players Mariana Speckmaier and Jordan Thompson came up huge for the Spirit – Speckmaier notched her first career NWSL goal (all competitions) on a bomb from several yards outside the box while Thompson played a full 90 minutes in her first career NWSL start (all competitions).


Despite winning its last two Challenge Cup matches, the Spirit narrowly missed the threshold to advance to the knockout stage.


The Spirit most recently faced off against the Dash on April 22 of this year at Audi Field — the fourth regular season match of the season. The game would end in a scoreless draw, and the Spirit was left searching for its first victory over Houston since 2021. This season, Houston has allowed the fewest goals of any team in the NWSL with just 12 goals surrendered through 15 games. Houston has allowed one fewer goal than the first-place North Carolina Courage.


Currently, the Spirit sits at fifth on the compact NWSL regular season table, only two points separating the side from North Carolina.


Saturday marks the first regular season match for the Spirit in over a month after three consecutive Challenge Cup matches. The Spirit looks to gain some regular season momentum after failing to find three points in its last three regular season matches. Those three games — coming against Portland, Orlando and San Diego — yielded only one point, the worst three-game stretch the Spirit has had all season. However, the Spirit still has a league-low three losses in the 2023 regular season – the second time the Spirit has had three or fewer losses through 15 matches, after doing so in 2016 when the team reached the NWSL Championship.


Look for forward Ashley Hatch to change the dynamic of the match on Saturday. Hatch has scored ten goals through all competitions, equaling Sophia Smith for the most in the NWSL in 2023. A league-high seven of those goals have been scored on the road, as Hatch has scored at least once in six of eight opposing venues so far this season.


Following Saturday’s match, the Spirit returns to Audi Field to face off against Portland Thorns FC. The Spirit wants fans to pack Audi Field to the brim in welcoming back its World Cup players on Sunday, August 27 at 5 p.m. EDT. Tickets are available here.


The Opposition

The Dash is off the heels of a decisive 0-3 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Red Stars in the side’s final group stage match of this year’s Challenge Cup. Prior to its three-goal showing, Chicago hadn’t scored a single goal in its first five Challenge Cup matches of 2023. Houston finished the in-season tournament with only six points, the fourth fewest in the league.


In its last nine matches (all competitions), the Dash has earned only one victory. In those games, the Dash was outscored 3-12. Furthermore, in the last five regular season matches, the Dash has secured only three points. This is the Dash’s longest regular season winless run within a single season in four years, since a seven-game drought (L4, D3) from May to July 2019.


The Dash sits in ninth place on the regular season NWSL table with a 4-5-6 record (18 points). Houston’s four wins are tied with Orlando and Angel City for the fewest victories in the NWSL. Additionally, only three points separates the Dash with last-place Kansas City Current and the sixth-place (final playoff berth) San Diego Wave FC, so every point is crucial for the side.


That said, the Dash has experienced success against the Spirit in recent history. The Dash hasn’t lost any of its last six home matches against the Spirit (W3, D3). This equals Houston’s longest regular-season home unbeaten run against any opponent in the club’s NWSL history (six vs. Orlando from 2018 – present). The Spirit, however, was victorious in Houston in 2021 after the competition was moved from the DMV area due to a venue conflict and officially considered a home Spirit match.


Goalkeeper Jane Campbell and defender Caprice Dydasco have been some of the Dash’s most consistent players this season, playing and starting in all 15 regular season matches in 2023. Campbell also leads the NWSL with an 80% save percentage (minimum 20 saves) and ranks fifth with 48 total saves on the season.


María Sánchez, though, has undeniably been the biggest X-Factor for the Dash this season. With three goals and four assists, Sánchez has been involved in half of the Dash’s 14 goals in all competitions this season. Houston has lost only one of the seven matches in which she has been involved in a goal in 2023 (W4, D2).


Spirit fans should also watch out for the Dash backline. Dydasco, Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt have 30, 21 and 20 tackles won, respectively. No Spirit player has 20 tackles won on the season.


Next up, the Dash continues its homestand, facing off against the Kansas City Current on Saturday, August 26 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.



  • The Washington Spirit owns a 10-8-6 all-time record against the Houston Dash, including a 3-4-4 record at Shell Energy Stadium. The goal differential through these matches is split at 24 goals apiece. All but one of the 24 games between the two sides have been played as regular season matches. The sides faced off in Herriman, Utah during the NWSL’s inaugural Challenge Cup in 2020 with the Spirit winning 1-0.
  • Dash midfielder Joelle Anderson is tied for first with the most yellow cards (4) in the NWSL this regular season.
  • The Dash has a poor shot accuracy – 44.88% (11th in the NWSL) – and shot conversion rate – 5.95% (last in the NWSL). The Spirit’s shot conversion rate nearly doubles the Dash at 11.58%.
  • In this year’s regular season, the Spirit has scored more big chances (13) than they have missed (12), for a 52% big chance conversion rate that leads the NWSL. This figure nearly doubles that of Houston (11th in the NWSL, 28.57%).
  • Former Spirit players meet again:
    • Dash defender Caprice Dydasco started her career with the Spirit in 2015, playing through the 2018 season. She started in 45 of 58 appearances with the team and played a role in the Spirit’s first run to the NWSL Championship match in 2016.
    • Dash defender Natalie Jacobs played with the Spirit from 2020-21.
    • Dash midfielder Havana Solaun played with the Spirit from 2017-18, making 37 appearances.
  • Former college teammates meet again:
    • Spirit midfielder Riley Tanner played with both Dash forward Ryan Gareis and defender Jyllissa Harris at South Carolina (2018-20/21).
    • Spirit defender Tara McKeown played with Dash defender Ally Prisock at USC (2017-18).
Spread the love