DYNAMO GET 1-0 WIN IN GUATEMALA

Five quick kicks from Dynamo at Guastatoya

The Houston Dynamo picked up their first win of the season in the Concacaf Champions League. Photo by: Rudy Martinez/Deporte Total USA

The Houston Dynamo kicked off their 2019 season with a 1-0 first leg win over C.D. Guastatoya in the Round of 16 of the Concacaf Champions League. DaMarcus Beasley scored the only goal of the match in the 84th minute to give Houston the victory. The Dynamo will host the Guatemalan side for the second leg next Tuesday before starting their MLS season against Real Salt Lake on March 2nd at BBVA Compass Stadium.

1) Starting the year with a win

Only a win could help the Dynamo feel optimistic after a year in which the team lost 16 out of their 34 league matches. Yes, the team won the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup but, in the bigger picture, the season was largely a disappointment. Playing in their first official match of the year, the team looked far from sharp in fitness and technique. In the end, however, the team withstood everything their Guatemalan counterparts threw at them and even left with the lead in the series.

2) Winning on the road

While we're at the point of boosting morale, chalk up a road win for one of the Major League Soccer's worse road teams. The Dynamo simply have not been able to figure out road games in MLS but they did so here in the Concacaf Champions League. Take the win with a grain of salt considering the competition. Even so, there's something to be said about winning an international contest in a foreign country. It wasn't necessarily a hostile environment but it was good enough for the Dynamo to feel good about winning on the road.

3) Defense bends but doesn't break

One of the reasons why the Dynamo could not stop anyone in 2018 is because they could never field a consistent center back pair in defense. Injuries hobbled the team, yes, but the depth of the squad was also an issue. This offseason, the Dynamo added two experienced players in defense plus another defensive midfielder to provide more options after last year's injury to Juan David Cabezas, arguably the club's most irreplaceable player.

4) Experience wins it for the Dynamo

On that same note of offseason reinforcements, signings like Aljaz Struna and Maynor Figueroa were brought in because of their experience. Some fans are wondering if this means 22-year-old centerback and 2018 signing Alejandro Fuenmayor has fallen out of favor with the manager Wilmer Cabrera. Fuenmayor was a bit reckless in tackles last season, which could have factored into him getting benched, but overall I think Cabrera decided to go with hard-nosed experience - at least for the start of the season.

5) Traveling supporters

Houston is not necessarily known for it's soccer supporters because of the club's continued struggle to fill out the stadium but the team was well represented Guatemala City on Tuesday night. Over 40 fans made the trip and were present to cheer their team on at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores. Some left over the weekend while others arrived on Tuesday itself. What spurred the travelers? One reason could be the five-year absence from the Concacaf Champions League while another could be the club's recent change in front office personnel. One thing is for certain: while small in numbers, the Dynamo have a passionate fanbase and one that they must capitalize on and nurture. After a season were many season ticket holders expressed their desire to forgo renewing their memberships, the club must build on moments like these.

Dynamo player of the game:

No surprise here, DaMarcus Beasley was the difference maker with the game-winning goal. The ageless U.S. Soccer legend showcased his experience by anticipating the rebound from a corner kick to score his first goal in international club competition since scoring for Rangers in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League group stage.

Next up:

Houston returns to BBVA Compass Stadium to host Guastatoya in the second game of this series, with the aggregate winner moving on to the quarter-finals against the winner of the Sapprisa-Tigres series.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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