Sky Blue FC (2-10-2, 8 points) fell to the Houston Dash (5-6-4, 19 points), 0-1, on Sunday night in the first of a three-game road stretch for the New Jersey-based club. The Dash’s Rachel Daly scored the game-winning goal in the first half, and the visitors were unable to overcome that one-goal deficit to salvage any road points.
The match was also the 100th career NWSL match for center back Estelle Johnson, who came to Sky Blue FC before the start of the season in a draft day trade with the Washington Spirit.
Carli Lloyd, in her second match back with her team following the U.S.’s win at the World Cup, led Sky Blue in the attack, but the midfielder was only able to take four shots over the course of 90 minutes, none of which were on target.
“It’s different, you know,” Lloyd told media of her transition from national team duty to club play following the match. “I left feeling really, really sharp and good, and now it’s – when you go through the cycle of a World Cup, when it’s a game in a three-four day rhythm, there’s not much training, especially those who aren’t playing a lot of minutes, so it’s just coming back into this environment and getting 90-minute game fit and just continuing to kind of find that sharpness.”
“I wish I would’ve hit at least one of those in the back of the net, but just got to continue to be better and do anything I possibly can to help the team.”
Sky Blue had a short turnaround before Sunday night’s match, having played a midweek match against the Washington Spirit on Wednesday night. That match also ended in a 1-0 loss.
The lack of rest and training in between games is no excuse for Sky Blue, as Houston also played last Wednesday night. The Dash also suffered a loss that night, a blistering 5-0 defeat to Portland Thorns FC in which Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell conceded four goals in the opening 25 minutes, before capping the night with an own goal in the second half.
The Dash returned home to BBVA Compass Stadium eager to put the Portland match behind them and were able to do so, thanks to a strike from England international striker Rachel Daly. That lone tally on the night came in the 22nd minute.
Dash rookie Ally Prisock, who came to the Dash from USC by way of the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, tallied the assist on Daly’s goal. Prisock threaded a pass through traffic to Daly, who Sky Blue’s defense left unmarked in the Dash’s attacking half.
Daly then turned and made a run to the far side of the 18, drawing goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan off her line. Sheridan’s attempts at cutting off Daly’s angle on goal were unsuccessful, as Daly perfectly placed her shot past Sheridan and into the back of the net for the game-winner.
For Sky Blue, the match was yet another one where the team looked incredibly unorganized and absent almost any offensive bite. Collectively, Sky Blue only managed seven shots on the night, none of which were on target. Although the Dash defense should be credited for some of that, the Sky Blue attack and, more so, the coaching staff is also responsible.
Although the team managed to win their first two matches without former head coach Denise Reddy at the helm, the team has too quickly returned to its losing ways. It’s clear that the players would benefit from a strong coach who is qualified to lead the team. Without one, it’s very likely the team may continue to flounder.
Sky Blue will look to bounce back in their next match, but they’ll be hard pressed to do so. Next Saturday, August 3, they will face one of the hardest tests this season as they travel to Providence Park to take on the Portland Thorns. That game will kick off at 11 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on Yahoo! Sports.
Full #HOUvNJ highlights are below.