Unbeaten home streak snapped

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 1-3 loss to LAFC

Alberth Elis was frustrated by defenders in the Houston Dynamo's 1-3 loss to LAFC. Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo lost their first MLS home match of the year by way of a 1-3 result to league leaders Los Angeles Football Club. The Dynamo ended the weekend in 8th place, just outside of the seven playoff spots, with 15 matches left to play.

Here are five observations:

1) Golden opportunity squashed

There wasn't a better time to defeat the league's most dominant team. The record-setting LAFC, who entered this match with a league-high 50 goals in favor and a league-low 16 goals against, were on less than 48 hours rest since their U.S. Open Cup elimination and left MLS top-goalscorer and top-assist man Carlos Vela on the bench.

The trio of Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas and Romell Quioto - the Dynamo's best attacking combination - generated plenty of opportunities in the first half, enough to have helped decide the result in their favor. The problems were effectiveness with the shots they had, seven of the Dynamo's 13 total shots were off target, and generating fewer opportunities in the second half.

Not putting the game away allowed LAFC to get back into the match with goals in first half stoppage time and four minutes after the start of the second half. Once they obtained the lead, LAFC used ball control to tire the Dynamo in their house and, eventually, ice the game with a third goal in the 88th minute.

2) Quioto gets second goal in as many games

Forward Romell Quioto broke his scoring drought with a penalty in the previous match at FC Cincinnati. He followed it up by opening the scoring three minutes into this match.

With renewed confidence, Quioto was more aggressive inside the box and showed his best form this season. The Honduran, however, has been unable to find a long consistent run of good form throughout his time in Houston - even weeks before his 28th birthday.

A better Quioto can allow the Dynamo to offset some of the extra defending on Alberth Elis and open the attack through the other side of the field. Until that happens, it's the Alberth Elis show that will make, or break, Houston's season.

3) Elis shut down by MLS-best defense

If you want a how to on how to defend Alberth Elis, the Dynamo's MVP candidate this season, go and watch the replay of this match. The 23-year-old winger hit the woodwork in the first minute of play but was otherwise neutralized by LAFC's stingy defense.

The defensive plays of the game came in the 26th minute with Mohamed El-Munir committed to denying Elis until the last possible instance. Goalkeeper Tyler Miller denied an Elis chip in the 28th minute and blocked a rebound opportunity in the 40th minute.

Elis had a great heading opportunity in the 82nd but did not connect with enough power, ending in a routine save from Miller. Aside from those opportunities, defenders cut off all other attempts to find the Honduran and a frustrated Elis usually doesn't end in good results for the Dynamo.

4) Cooler heads prevail

By all accounts, the Dynamo should have won this match. The difference came with the calm, cool composure in game management and that's were former U.S. Men's National Team Manager Bob Bradley bested Dynamo Manager Wilmer Cabrera.

While Cabrera and his staff complained to referees on multiple calls, a common occurrence on Dynamo matchdays at BBVA Stadium, Bradley never let his team feel pressured - even after going down 1-0 early.

LAFC patiently held on and worked their way into the scoreboard while the Dynamo lost a game where an early lead should have led to a win. There's enough matches, and postgame press conferences, over the course of the past year to see this as a trend.

5) Difference in standards

LAFC has risen to become one of the model franchises in MLS just two years into existence. That standard is something that was reflected on the field with an alternate lineup that played true to their style and never let up - their goals came at opportune times of the match like first half stoppage time.

The Dynamo, on the other hand, lack some of the professional qualities that LAFC showed - depth, talented players and a strong mentality. With a lack of accountability throughout the club, it's tough to see that changing in the coming weeks despite the availability of the summer transfer window (Houston has had one incoming signing in 2018 and two in 2017).

With only the addition of Chilean defender Jose Bizama confirmed so far, it's difficult to see how the Dynamo will combat a run of six losses in their last eight games. With nine of the remaining 15 matches on the road, it's tough to see the Dynamo making the playoffs.

Dynamo player of the game: Matias Vera

Defensive midfielder Matias Vera delivered another solid game in midfield and was one of the players that stood out despite the result.

Next up:

Wednesday, July 17 at Atlanta United FC (6:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57/TeleXitos 47.2)

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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