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 Español)

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 Español)

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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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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