HOUSTON ELIMINATED FROM CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

5 quick kicks from Dynamo at Tigres UANL

Alberth Elis and the Houston Dynamo could not overturn a 0-2 deficit against Tigres UANL. Photo by Diego Dlouhy/SportsMap Houston

The Houston Dynamo were eliminated from the Concacaf Champions League after a 0-1 loss (0-3 agg.) against Tigres UANL on Tuesday night. Mexican National Team defender Carlos Salcedo, a former player for MLS club Real Salt Lake, scored the only goal of the match in the 68th minute.

Here are five observations from the loss in Mexico:

1) Had a chance, never took advantage

The Dynamo fared off better on the road than they did a week ago when they lost the first leg at home by a two-nil scoreline. Obviously, the advantage on the scoreboard kept Tigres from being more aggressive but Houston never pounced. Out of the ten shots generated, only one was on target.

Tommy McNamara missed two opportunities in the first half, Mauro Manotas missed a great opportunity in the 50th minute and Alberth Elis could only get about one decent shot off. Getting a goal would have made a very talented, albeit underachieving, Tigres team uneasy with the pressure of getting shocked in front of the home fans.

Unfortunately for the traveling fans, the Dynamo never capitalized on that opportunity. The team was unable to make due of the opportunities they did have (knowing beforehand those would be limited anyway) and lacked that "nothing to lose" gambler's attitude. At least they didn't get blown out, I suppose.

2) Injuries play a part again

Team Captain DaMarcus Beasley had to be subbed off in the 20th minute because of an injury. Fellow defender Maynor Figuroa also had to be substituted due to injury late in the second half. Playmaker Tomas Martinez was left on the bench due to taking licks in the team's MLS opener and the team's most valuable player (arguably) Juan David Cabezas didn't even travel because he has yet to recover from an injury in the club's Champions League opener.

Would a healthy squad fully made a difference against one of the top teams in the region? Maybe it wouldn't. What can be said is that this is a nagging issue that will keep haunting the squad all season if nothing is done about it. The team has essentially expressed that the roster will remain untouched until the summer and doesn't count on an Academy that pumps out MLS-ready players. It may just be easier to start selling replica crutches in the Dynamo team store.

3) CCL run could help MLS season

The Dynamo were never going to win the Concacaf Champions League. In fact, they were the least likely of the MLS sides to come away with the trophy. What this run did afford them was an earlier start to the season and a great test against one of the region's best teams.

A big benefit that has already been seen is a good start to the season. Four points out of six are a good with another three potentially waiting on Saturday against a Vancouver Whitecaps FC club that has won in Houston only once. What the Dynamo can take away from this experience is the confidence that they fared well against a side who play at a level well beyond most MLS teams. If they can translate the workload they've put in these last couple of weeks, there's no reason why they should't just make the playoffs but finish top four in their conference.

4) Figueroa, Lundqvist stand out

Maynor Figueroa left the Estadio Universitario limping and his status going forward is uncertain. Putting that aside, he may be the Dynamo's most important offseason acquisition - at least up to this point. He has appeared in every match and has brought security, leadership and an edge to a backline that desperately needed all the help in the world. Whether he stays on the field or hits the shelf for awhile, Figueroa may have already fulfilled the expectations the team had for him. Still, the 35-year-old Honduran National Team Captain has plenty left in the tank - as he's shown in the first games of the season.

Another player that could make his mark on the Dynamo in 2019 is left back Adam Lundqvist. Coming on for Beasley in the first half, the Swedish player has waited in the wings for enough time. He's definitely not the finished product but there is very little, if any, dropoff from Beasley and it may just be time to get the player more minutes.

5) Other takeaways from the experience

It would be a mistake to write about the trip to Mexico without acknowledging the passion of the local fans. How can the Dynamo inspire that type of a following and develop similar traditions? Simply by taking the initiative.

Several of the gameday traditions that Tigres has can be emulated by the club. Asking fans to turn on the flashlight setting on their cellphones during games, getting the rest of the stadium more involved in chants and investing money into the team are just a few ways to creating that type of environment. Easier said than done, yes, but not impossible as other MLS teams have shown.

Dynamo player of the game: Maynor Figueroa

The offseason newcomer stood out the most with some good clearances to keep the Dynamo in the game.

Next up:

Saturday, March 16th vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2 p.m. CT, KUBE57)

Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Vancouver Whitecaps FC had never won in Houston. That has since been corrected to reflect Vancouver's 2-1 win on March 10, 2018 at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Dash 1, Reign FC 1

5 kicks from Dash vs. Reign FC

Dash forward Nichelle Prince (center) scored in the 10th minute against Reign FC. (Photo by Jose Castenanos)

The Houston Dash opened their sixth professional season in the National Women's Soccer League with a 1-1 home draw against Regin FC on Sunday. Canadian National Team forward Nichelle Prince scored the lone goal for the Dash while U.S. National Team Goalkeeper Jane Campbell saved a penalty attempt in stoppage time.

Here are five observations from the win:

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dash vs. Reign FC | April 14, 2019 www.youtube.com

1) Welcome to the Clarkson era

Head Coach James Clarkson made his debut as a manager in the women's game. He was named the third head coach in club history after being announced to the role last December. Sunday was the first real test for the team, being that it was their first competitive match and one against a professional team.

The Dash had some good chances, enough to win this match at least, and have only themselves to blame for the dropped points. True, Reign FC is a more seasoned team with a two-time NWSL Championship winning coach but they were beatable on the day. Given that players are still adjusting to a new coaching staff, Clarkson gets a pass here for the result. Going forward, however, these are the types of games that have to be won if the club wants to even entertain qualifying to their first NWSL playoffs.

2) Prince pounces on mistake

Canadian forward Nichelle Prince won the battle against Reign defender Theresa Nielsen, dispossessing her to score in the 10th minute. The 24-year-old from Ajax, Ontario, Canada was a nuisance for the defense for a large part of the game and provided a good outlet for the attack in transition. The ability to create her own opportunity turned into the team's only goal on the day. She will be a player to keep an eye on not only for the Dash but for Canada at this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.

3) Campbell saves the day

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell had a fairly solid day in goal. Other than the deflected shot that put the Reign on the scoreboard in the 58th minute, there wasn't much that she couldn't handle. In the waning minutes of the match, however, she was careless with a back pass that ended in her conceding a stoppage time penalty (she apologized for the play after the match). In the end, she stayed a hero by blocking the penalty and securing the point for the home team.

4) Brooks plays in 100th NWSL match

Only 21 players had featured in 100 NWSL matches until Sunday. Amber Brooks became the 22nd player to reach that milestone, coincidentally her jersey number is no. 22. The club's Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 has become one of the key figures on the team since her arrival in 2016. Another coincidence was that she reached the accomplishment against Reign FC, the team she played for before coming to Houston. Brooks continues to add to her resume which also includes playing in Europe with FC Bayern Munich and in Australia, this past offseason, with Adelaide United.

5) Lowest turnout for a home opener

If you've read my "5 Kicks" after Houston Dynamo games, you've read plenty about the dwindling attendance at the matches for the men. Unfortunately, due to the Dash getting a fraction of the Dynamo's resources despite sharing the same ownership group, it's an even more uphill battle on the women's side. The match hardly had any marketing dollars behind it and the attendance figures reflect that.

2014 - 8,097 on April 12 vs. Portland Thorns (L 0-1)

2015 - 6,012 on April 10 vs. Washington Spirit (W 2-0)

2016 - 7,440 on April 16 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 3-1)

2017 - 4,484 on April 15 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 2-0)

2018 - 5,846 on March 25 vs. Chicago Red Stars (T 1-1)

2019 - 4,335 on April 14 vs. Reign FC (T 1-1)

The drop in the home opener comes a year after Dynamo/Dash Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer David Brady shared a three-year attendance plan with the Houston Business Journal - one that aims for the club to double their numbers by next season.

Dash player of the game: Nichelle Prince

The Dash don't come away with a point, or have a chance at three, if not for Prince's efforts that put the team on the scoreboard.

Next up:

Saturday, April 20th at Sky Blue FC (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

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