Houston Dash Took The Champions Of Europe Barcelona To The Wire In Heroic Performance
Get the best email in soccer.
The Houston Dash was the oddball inclusion the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup.
Teams like the Portland Thorns, French powerhouse Lyon and perhaps the most dominant team on the planet, Barcelona, all looked like giants compared to the Dash.
The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup champions were heavy underdogs against Barcelona for the third-place match, but holy hell did the Dash give the defending UEFA Champions League winners a run for their money, losing 3-2.
To give you an idea of the vast gap between the two clubs, the Houston Dash has yet to finish an NWSL season with a winning record in its seven years of existence. Meanwhile, Barcelona finished last season’s Primera División with 33 wins and one loss on top of winning basically everything it played in.
Barcelona displayed its dominance in every statistic and played nearly the entire first half in Houston’s half of the field. Former Portland Thorn Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic scored the game’s opening goal in the 34th minute with a thunderous strike.
The Catalan side finished the game with 77% possession. After Crnogorcevic’s goal it felt like the game might have been over. The Dash’s singular shot target in the entire game came in the second half. Barcelona had 12 shots on target.
The Dash went into the half trailing 1-0. Three minutes into the first half the underdogs took advantage of a set piece opportunity and leveled the game courtesy of an own goal.
Houston equalize! Rachel Daly's free kick gets all the way through to Katie Naughton, whose on target strike gets helped into the back of the net by a Barcelona defender.#WICC2021 | #HOUvBAR | 1 - 1 pic.twitter.com/NSPJIIia4E— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) August 22, 2021
It was a miracle that Houston was back in this game. We then went into territory unknown in the 62nd minute when a sublime header from Shea Groom gave the Dash a 2-1 lead over the most dominant sports team in history.
Houston wouldn’t have to park the bus from that point on, it had to park the entire bus station. However, a poorly timed challenge in the Dash’s box gave Barcelona a penalty kick. Alexia Putellas, who scored 26 goals for Barcelona last season, made no mistake from the spot.
— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) August 22, 2021
Putellas struck again six minutes later to regain the Barcelona lead with a bullet shot.
Michaela Abam had the best opportunity to tie the game at 3-3 in the 88th minute, however the Cameroonian dragged her shot wide. Barcelona played keep away for the remainder of the game to see out the 3-2 victory.
Was this Barcelona’s A-team? No, Jenni Hermoso didn’t make an appearance in the game, and this was still preseason for the defending Spanish champions. Only four players who started in the Champions League final started against the Houston Dash.
That being said, this was still a powerful side that could defeat any team in the world. For the Houston Dash to challenge this team to the very end with only 23% possession was an incredible performance.
This is the same Dash side that lost to OL Reign 5-1 two weeks ago. Houston’s players have nothing to be ashamed of and deserve all of the praise for Saturday night’s game.