Sprint rally after 2-0 deficit, content yourself with the draw with Spirit

Houston, you have a new soccer star. And finally, she plays for the Dash.

Two years after first being courted by Dash, Michaela Abam made her home team debut Friday night, scoring a late tie to save a point in a 2-2 draw with the Washington Spirit at BBVA Stadium.

Abam, who was born in Houston and attended Harmony Science Academy in the Southwest, trained on the Dash twice this week but wasn’t officially announced as a signatory until Friday afternoon.

She played at Texas Rush as a youth player, which is now part of the Dynamo / Dash Youth Academy.

Her signing came after a difficult period at her previous club in Spain that included at least two injuries. When she stood around on the field at BBVA Stadium on Friday night chatting to fans, it felt surreal that she was in such a good place in her hometown.

“I’ve seen and spoken to many of my friends since elementary school,” Abam said. “To see how much support has been given from that time to today and to have the group around me is honestly a blessing.

“There couldn’t be a better timing for this moment.”

After graduating in West Virginia, Abam was drafted No. 4 overall in Sky Blue FC’s 2018 NWSL Draft and played four games during her rookie season before jetting to Europe. She played for Paris FC and Real Betis before returning to the NWSL this week.

Dash coach James Clarkson, who coached Abam’s brother years ago, attempted to sign Abam in 2019, but until then she was determined to stay overseas.

He sent them into Friday’s game in the 71st minute, with the Dash leaving 2-1.

Her teammates never came off a pass in these situations, but impressive preparation led to her goal.

Rachel Daly, who had returned to the team with Sophie Schmidt after her Olympic trips, hit a long pass in front of Vernoica Latsko. Latsko shot a pass forward and Washington’s defense couldn’t get rid of it.

Abam fought his way through the traffic up in the penalty area and landed the ball at her feet about 15 meters from the goal. From then on, she made no mistake with a quality finish.

“She made an immediate impression on and off the field,” said Clarkson. “She has a fantastic personality. She fits perfectly into a group. She knows a few of the players too, so she fitted in perfectly.

“It gives us another dimension to the attack and I think he took a look at it tonight.”

The Dash (5-6-3, 18 points) wanted to win but they got a nice consolation prize. Since their promotion to the league in 2014, they had never had a positive result after two goals.

The Spirit (5-5-4, 19 points) scored once in the first half and again in the 53rd minute to lead them 2-0. Things looked bleak for the Dash at the time, but they regrouped and took control of the game.

Their breakthrough came in the 61st minute when Latsko scored a corner kick after a chest pass from Makamae Gomera-Stevens.

That set the stage for Abam, who couldn’t stop shining during a post-game press conference where her greatest message was simple.

She is happy to be home.

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