Houston Dash knock off Portland Thorns FC to punch ticket to NWSL Challenge Cup final

A second-half goal from Rachel Daly guided the Houston Dash to a 1-0 win over the Portland Thorns on Wednesday, clinching a spot in the NWSL Challenge Cup final on Sunday. 

The semifinal showdown saw Portland, fresh off upsetting the undefeated North Carolina Courage, fail to record a shot on goal with Daly taking advantage with her strike. Her goal came off a corner kick as the England international headed home a rebound.

The Dash began the tournament on a high note with five goals in the first two games but had failed to score in their previous three matches before getting the lone goal in this one. Houston will play in the final on Sunday against the winner of tonight's other semifinal between Sky Blue and Chicago Red Stars (10 p.m. ET on CBS All Access). 

Sunday's final is set for 12:30 p.m. ET and will air on CBS.  

Takeaways

Houston Dash: Head coach James Clarkson and his team began the Challenge Cup with a unified message saying that they wanted to show they were in this tournament to compete. After making statements in their first two group matches by scoring five goals, the team cooled off a bit in front of goal. The team made adjustments by inserting players like Nichelle Prince and Bri Visalli into their starting lineup, and the team advanced into the semifinal on penalty kicks despite getting looks on goal against Washington Spirit. The team continued to build on their offensive chances during the semifinal against Portland today, with arguably their best team performance to date. Creating 14 shots, with four on goal, the team punched their ticket to the final on a goal from Rachel Daly, who was there to clean up a chance off the cross bar. 

Portland Thorns FC: Head coach Mark Parson and his team will return home after being ranked eighth and advancing through into the Challenge Cup semifinals. The team experiences a large roster turn over during the off season, and utilized group play to get newer talent game experience. Along the way, the team suffered a number of injury set backs as well, impacting the style the team tried to play during the tournament, and having struggles in front of goal. The team heads back home, after knocking out top seeded North Carolina Courage, and a number of strong individual performances from Morgan Weaver, Simone Charley, and Rocky Rodriguez. 

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