THE SOCCER REPORT

Dynamo trio score in international competition; Maradona returns to coaching

Credit: Houston Dynamo

The September FIFA break brought a pause to league matches all around the world for international competitions and friendlies. Here are the top stories from the week, followed by a schedule of some of the more compelling upcoming matches.

Dynamo fall in the standings in bye week, three players score in international play

Houston Dynamo fell to 11th (out of 12) in the Western Conference despite not playing this weekend thanks to the Colorado Rapids win over Seattle Sounders. The Dynamo have two matches this week and, depending on results, could still fall to last place in the Western Conference.

Not everything was bad news for the Dynamo as five of their players featured for their national teams during the international break.

Defender Aljaz "Kiki" Struna scored for Slovenia in a 2-0 win against Poland last Friday. Struna started in the 3-2 win over Israel on Monday but was subbed off in the second half due to injury. Slovenia is currently second in their group and is well positioned to qualify for next summer's EURO 2020.

Darwin Ceren scored off a penalty in El Salvador's 3-0 win over Saint Lucia in Concacaf Nations League. He also featured in the 0-1 loss at the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.

Alberth Elis and Maynor Figueroa saw action in Honduras' 2-1 home win in a friendly against Jose Bizama's Chile. Elis scored the tying goal for Honduras while Bizama, a summer signing for the Dynamo, came off the bench in the 75th minute.

The Dynamo are back home on Wednesday against Minnesota Untied (7:30 p.m. CT, KUBE 57)

Houston Dash lose 0-3 at Chicago Red Stars, virtually ending playoff hopes

The Houston Dash fell to 7th place (out of 9 teams) in the National Women's Soccer League standings with a road loss against likely playoff-bound Chicago Red Stars. The loss puts Houston nine points behind fourth place Utah, who the Dash will host on Friday night.

U.S. Men's National Team lose to Mexico, draw with Uruguay

A rematch of this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup final, just over a month after that encounter, ended in a 0-3 loss for the United States in front of a pro-Mexico crowd at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey last Friday.

The USMNT recovered from that heavily scrutinized match with a 1-1 draw against an alternate Uruguay squad at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo has a four-goal performance in Euro 2020 qualifiers

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to wreck it at the international stage at the age of 34, getting a "poker" against Lithuania in EURO 2020 qualifiers. His four-goal performance extends his mark of international goals to 93 with Portugal.

Diego Maradona is presented as head coach of Argentina Superliga club Gimnasia

There's one word that can never be used when Diego Maradona is in the news - boring. The legendary FIFA World Cup winner, regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game, has returned to his native land as the Manager of Argentina top division team Gimnasia La Plata.

Maradona was unveiled over the weekend at the club's 33,500-seat stadium to a capacity crowd of supporters and worldwide media.

Gimnasia's first match with Maradona at the helm comes Sunday 9:00 a.m. CT in league action against defending champions Racing Club.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, September 11

7:30 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United (KUBE 57)

Friday, September 13

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Dusseldorf vs. Wolfsburg (FS2, FOX Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Mallorca vs. Athletic Bilbao (beIN Sports)

6:30 p.m. - [Liga MX] Puebla vs. Atletico San Luis (TUDN, ESPN Deportes)

7:30 p.m. - [NWSL] Houston Dash vs. Utah Royals

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club Tijuana vs. Tigres (FOX Deportes)

Saturday, September 14

6:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Levante (beIN Sports)

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

8:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Fiorentina vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayer Leverkusen (FS1, FOX Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Cologne vs Borussia Monchengladbach (FS2, TUDN)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Spurs vs. Crystal Palace (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Leganes vs. Villarreal (beIN Sports en EspaƱol)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Norwich vs. Manchester City (NBC)

11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports en EspaƱol)

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich (FS2, UniMas)

1:30 p.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)

9:00 p.m. - [MLS] Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE 57)

Sunday, September 15

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

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

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] Portland Timbers vs. D.C. United (ESPN)

9:00 p.m. - [MLS] LA Galaxy vs. Sporting KC (FS1)

Monday, September 16

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Aston Villa vs. West Ham (NBC Sports)

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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