NWSL: Houston Dash win Challenge Cup after beating Chicago Red Stars

England forward Rachel Daly was named the tournament’s most valuable player before clinching the Golden Boot

The Houston Dash won their first National Women’s Soccer League title by beating the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 in the Challenge Cup final on Sunday.

Sophie Schmidt scored an early penalty before Shea Groom sealed victory in injury time from a Rachel Daly assist.

It meant Daly won the Golden Boot award, having already been named most valuable player for the standalone tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“It’s a massive honour for me and my family,” said the England forward, 28.

Daly, who helped England reach the 2019 World Cup semi-finals and has 35 caps for her country, claimed three goals and two assists in the month-long competition.

She has been with Houston for “a difficult five years”, without reaching the NWSL play-offs.

And despite losing two of their four pool games, Daly’s side progressed through the knockout stages before upsetting Chicago, runners-up in the 2019 championship game.

“It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t fluke. We showed up and we believed,” she said.

“We’re such a special team this year. These girls are special people – absolutely phenomenal.”

The NWSL was the first team-sport league to resume in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There were no positive Covid-19 tests out of more than 2,000 during the tournament. However, there is still no confirmation of when the new NWSL season will begin.

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