One week ago today, the Houston Dash added trialists Lindsay Elston, Holly Hein and Dominique Richardson as well as Nigerian international Osinachi Ohale to the roster. The additions replaced the injured Lauren Sesselmann as well as the absent Whitney Engen (Europe), Meghan Klingenberg (Europe) and Rafaelle Souza (Ole Miss).
The moves brought the active roster up to 18, sufficient to field a starting 11 and a full compliment of match substitutes.
The disappointing news earlier this week of Brittany Bock’s torn ACL, suffered early on in the inaugural match against Portland Thorns FC, brought the available roster down to 17. Also injured and departing early from the Portland match was pacey forward, Kealia Ohai.
Following the Dash final practice prior to heading out to Boston to face the Breakers this weekend, I spoke with Head Coach Randy Waldrum who confirmed that Ohai would be unavailable for this weekend’s match with a high ankle sprain.
She (Ohai) is not going to train or play with us this weekend. We’ll leave her home for some rehab. Everything indicates she should be ready next week for Seattle. It is more of a precaution, we could probably rush her right back in it, but then I think it could be a nagging injury that is prolonged. So, I think we would be smarter to let her stay here this weekend and rehab it and get her back for next week.
Ohai’s absence brings the available roster down to only 16 players, leaving the Dash two short of having a full substitutes bench. Waldrum acknowledged that the Dash will have a short bench this weekend. He did spring a surprise, however, in mentioning that Rafaelle Souza will be flown in to add depth to the Dash bench.
The Brazilian international, who was a 2nd round draft pick of the Dash in the College Draft, is finishing up her degree at Ole Miss prior to joining the team full-time.
We felt like because of the injuries we need the depth. We will fly her in and she will meet us up in Boston. She is a different player, she brings flair and creativity to us up front…. She is special. She will be available in case we need someone to come in and kind of change the game for us at the end if we need that goal at the end.
The Dash had hoped to add another international player to the side prior to the Boston match, however delays in paperwork now have the Dash hoping she will join early next week and be available prior to the match against Seattle Reign FC.
Once she arrives, the Dash hope that the player will address the need for a proven goal scorer which has been cited as lacking in the side right now. According to Waldrum:
I think we still have got to find that proven goal scorer. She is one of those players whose got goals at the international level, she’s got it at the World Cup qualifying level, she’s got it in Champions League. I think that’s the one thing that we still lack is a proven goal scorer.
Waldrum noted that he likes the forwards he has right now, but that they are all young and have not had enough history to prove that over time they can score 10-12 goals in a season.
In terms of an external replacement for Bock, Waldrum indicated there is nobody currently on the radar but the Dash will naturally keep their eyes open for any player who would be a strong addition who could fit in under the cap. He added:
I don’t think you’ll see us being set with our roster completely now. It will be a little bit of an evolving one as the season goes on I would imagine.
The immediate options to partner with Becky Edwards in the holding midfielder slot, are Jordan Jackson and Dominique Richardson. Richardson is more of a pure defensive midfielder whereas Jackson can defend but also gets forward into the attack. If Jackson starts in place of Bock, Teresa Noyola would replace her as the attacking midfielder. Otherwise, either Jackson or Noyola plays in the more advanced role with Richardson alongside Edwards.
The choice of Jackson or Richardson to partner Edwards will be made following discussion between Waldrum and his staff prior to the Boston match and based on whether the ultimate tactical approach is to be more offensive or defensive oriented.