The Houston Dynamo announced today the launch of the Houston Dash, a women’s professional soccer team that will enter the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as an expansion team for the 2014 season. The Dash will be owned by the Dynamo ownership group and operated by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.
The Dash will begin play in April 2014 with the start of the second NWSL season, a 24-game schedule that includes 12 home games at BBVA Compass Stadium, the downtown home of the Houston Dynamo. The NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association, Federation of Mexican Football and the United States Soccer Federation and is the top-flight women’s professional soccer league in North America, featuring many of the top players from the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as talent from around the world.
“We are thrilled to have our very own NWSL franchise here in Houston,” said Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti. “It is an important addition to our sports landscape and will bring added value to our community.”
The Dash join the league as its ninth club and first expansion team. The eight other clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash.
Canetti added: “We share the vision for this league and look forward to playing our part in making it a great success. Part of our responsibility is to grow the game of soccer, and this new team will play a significant role in that effort.”
The club has begun its search for its first head coach. In addition, its roster will be constructed over the coming months through the following methods: allocation of players from the U.S., Canada and Mexico national teams; an expansion draft; the NWSL College Draft, set for Jan. 17; and Discovery signings (domestic and international). Further details on the expansion roster procedures will be provided in the coming weeks.
Dash season tickets, on sale to the general public on Monday, range from $144 - $288. For more information, call 713-276-7500 or visit HoustonDashSoccer.com. Follow the club on Twitter@HoustonDash; on Facebook at Facebook.com/HoustonDash; and on Instagram at HoustonDash.
“We’re proud and excited to welcome the Houston Dash to the NWSL as the first expansion team in league history,” NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said. “The creation of the Dash will mean enhanced opportunities for female soccer players at the professional level as well as the chance for fans from another part of the country to watch and interact with some of the world’s most talented players. We are thrilled at being able to add an organization as strong as the Houston Dynamo as we work toward continuing to build a sustainable league.”
The Dash roster will include 18-20 players, per NWSL rules. The club will train at Houston Sports Park (HSP), the official training home of the Houston Dynamo and the Dynamo Academy. Team uniforms will be unveiled at a later date.
The NWSL features 23 members of the U.S. women’s national team, including stars of the team that won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, including: Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers); Amy LePeilbet and Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars); Nicole Barnhart, Amy Rodriguez, Becky Sauerbrunn and Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City); Rachel Buehler, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC); Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC); Kelley O’Hara and Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC); Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit); and Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash).
The league also includes the stars of the Canada national team, including: Diana Matheson (Washington Spirit); Desiree Scott and Lauren Sesselmann (FC Kansas City); and Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC).
In addition, the NWSL features some of the top talent from the Mexico national team, including: Maribel Dominguez (Chicago Red Stars); Renae Cuellar (Washington Spirit); Teresa Noyola (FC Kansas City); and Monica Ocampo (Sky Blue FC).
Portland Thorns FC won the inaugural NWSL championship in 2013, defeating the Western New York Flash 2-0 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y. in the inaugural NWSL Championship Game. Lauren Holiday of FC Kansas City was the NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner after scoring 12 goals in the regular season.
The 2013 NWSL regular season was notably competitive – with the four playoff teams separated by just two points, and three teams tied for the most points in the league with 38.