CHICAGO – For the third year in a row, the Chicago Red Stars will travel to Houston to face the Dash in both team’s 2018 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season opener. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, March 25, at BBVA Compass Stadium. The match will be streamed live on NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app and the go90 app.
After the Red Stars preseason, which included winning the Thorns Spring Invitational after defeating Portland and Houston in 1-0 battles, head coach Rory Dames has whittled his vast roster to just 21 players.
With 16 players returning to the Red Stars from 2017, Chicago will have a good jump on the season with a strong group of core veterans. However, due to injuries, the Red Stars will be without Vanessa DiBernardo, Julie Ertz, Casey Short and Yuki Nagasato for the start of the season. Sam Kerr will also be missing due to international duty with the Australian National Team preparing for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying.
With the loss of some key members, Dames will look to his youth. Brigham Young midfielder Michele Vasconcelos returns to the Red Stars after being drafted 11th overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, but was unable to play the season due to the pregnancy of her first child. Vasconelos has bounced back and will look for minutes to help control the midfield alongside NWSL veterans, Danielle Colaprico and Nikki Stanton. The 2017 rookies in Summer Green and Lauren Kaskie also return in their roles and will look to compete for extended minutes this season.
The Red Stars will also look to come out of Sunday’s match on top, despite falling short of Houston in the prior two season openers.
After last year’s efforts, Houston finished in eighth place with 23 total points and 7-2-15 record. The Dash had the lowest shot conversion rate of the league (8.3%) with only 22 goals. But with a revamped roster, Houston looks to earn their first post-season appearance.
The Dash will look drastically different without former captain and U.S. WNT midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was involved in a three-team trade, ultimately sending her and Janine Beckie to Sky Blue FC.
Houston returns just eight players from the 2017 roster, including U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper Jane Campbell, England international Rachel Daly, star striker Kaelia Ohai and Canadian forward Nichelle Prince. In the offseason, the Dash also added forwards Kyah Simon (Australia) and Savannah Jordan (Portland), goalkeepers Sammy Jo Prudhomme (Boston) and Bianca Henninger (Mexico).
The Red Stars are back in action at Toyota Park on Saturday, March 31, for the home opener against the Portland Thorns. Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CT. The game is part of a doubleheader event with the MLS-side Chicago Fire taking on Portland Timbers prior to the Red Stars match. Tickets are available here.