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)

Arsenal are back in good spirits after first win in 10 matches. Credit: Adidas

Action rolls in Europe after a weekend that featured the Manchester Derby, only to be followed by the end of the UEFA Champions League group stage and a pre-El Clasico La Liga weekend. This week also features the start of the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup.

Off the field, the draw to determine the quarterfinal matchups of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League took place in Mexico CIty on Monday night. The tournament will kick off in February and crown a new champion in May to determine the region's representative in the 2020 Club World Cup.

Major League Soccer clubs in the CCL will begin their preseason on January 11, one week before the rest of the league.

English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (46), 2. Leicester City (38), 3. Man City (32), 4. Chelsea (29), 5. Man Utd (24), 6. Wolves (24)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. Southampton (15), 19. Norwich City (11), 20. Watford (9)

Scoring leader: 16 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 9 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (34), 2. Real Madrid (34), 3. Sevilla (31), 4. Real Sociedad (27), 5. Getafe (27), 6. Athletic Bilbao (26)

Bottom three: 18. Celta Vigo (13), 19. Leganes (9), 20. Espanyol (9)

Scoring leader: 12 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 6 - Rodrigo (Valencia)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Monchengladbach (31), 2. RB Leipzig (30), 3. Dortmund (26), 4. Schalke 04 (25), 5. Freiburg (25), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (25)

Bottom three: 16. Fortuna (12), 17. Paderborn (8), 18. Cologne (8)

Scoring leader: 16 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 9 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Inter Milan (38), 2. Juventus (36), 3. Lazio (33), 4. Cagliari (29), 5. Roma (29), 6. Atalanta (28)

Bottom three: 18. Genoa (10), 19. SPAL (9), 20. Brescia (7)

Scoring leader: 17 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 11 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top four: 1. PSG (39), 2. Marseille (34), 3. Lille (28), 4. Rennes (27)

Bottom three: 18. Metz (15), 19. Tolouse (12), 20. Nimes (12)

Scoring leader: 11 - Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

Assists leader: 7 - Islam Slimani (Monaco) / Yoann Court (Brest)

Liga MX Playoffs

Monterrey and Club America each punched their ticket to the Liga MX Apertura 2019 final over the weekend. The two will have to wait until Monterrey are done with the FIFA Club World Cup participation to resume the playoffs on Dec. 26.

Quarterfinal results:

  • Club Leon 4-5 agg. Monarcas Morelia
  • Queretaro 2-6 agg. Necaxa
  • Santos Laguna 3-6 agg. Monterrey
  • Club America 2-4 agg. Tigres UANL
Semifinal results:
  • Necaxa 1-3 agg. Monterrey
  • Club America 2-2 agg. Monarcas Morelia, America advance on higher seed tiebreaker
Final schedule:
  • First leg: Dec. 26 at Estadio BBVA, Monterrey
  • Second leg: Dec. 29 at Estadio Azteca, Mexico

Liga MX Femenil Final

Monterrey's female team, "Rayadas," lifted their first Liga MX Femenil title after a 1-0 win over rivals Tigres UANL in the second leg of the final, 2-1 on aggregate. The series drew an attendance of 41,615 in the first leg on Nov. 29 and 38,251 in Sunday's second leg.

TV listings (All Times CT):

Tuesday, December 10

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] RB Salzburg vs. Liverpool (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Napoli vs. Genk (Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Inter Milan vs. FC Barcelona (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Ajax vs. Valencia (Galavision)

Wednesday, December 11

11:30 a.m. - [FIFA Club World Cup / Playoff] Al Sadd vs. Hienghène (FS2, FOX Deportes)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Dinamo Zagreb vs. Man City (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Atalanta (Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Brugge vs. Real Madrid (UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Bayer Leverkusen vs. Juventus (TNT, Galavision)

Thursday, December 12

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Standard Liege vs. Arsenal (UniMas)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] APOEL vs. Sevilla (TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] LASK vs. Sporting CP (Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Manchester United vs. AZ Alkmaar (UniMas)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Wolves vs. Besiktas (TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Porto vs. Feyenoord (Galavision)

Friday, December 13

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. FC Augsburg (FS2, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Leganes (beIN SPORTS en Español)

Saturday, December 14

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Watford (NBC Sports)

8:00 a.m. - [FIFA Club World Cup / Quarterfinal] Al-Hilal vs. ES Tunis (FOX Soccer Plus, FOX Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. SV Werder Bremen (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz 05 vs. Borussia Dortmund (FS2, TUDN)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Bournemouth (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [FIFA Club World Cup / Quarterfinal] Monterrey vs. Al Sadd or Hienghène (FS2)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Southampton vs. West Ham (NBC)

1:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Osasuna (beIN SPORTS)

Sunday, December 15

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Wolves vs. Spurs (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (FS1)

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke 04 vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (FS1)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Valencia vs. Real Madrid (beIN SPORTS)

Monday, December 16

6:00 a.m. - Draw for UEFA Champions League and Europa League knockout stage (UEFA.com, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome