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.
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.
One of the big factors that led to the Texans' loss to the Jaguars on Sunday was the secondary. Multiple flags for pass interference gave Jacksonville more opportunities to pick up first downs and score points.
Can confirm #Texans backup CB Shaq Griffin was cut.
Griffin started 6 games this year when Derek Stingley was out with a hamstring.
— DJ Bien-Aime (@Djbienaime) November 29, 2023
So it's no surprise that DeMeco Ryans is making some changes to his defense this week. According to several reports, Texans corner Shaq Griffin has been cut.
Nickel corner Tavierre Thomas was flagged for PI more than once on Sunday, and was burned badly by Jaguars receiver Calvin Ridley for a touchdown.
DeMeco was asked after the game if he considered replacing Thomas with Desmond King or Shaq Griffin. Ryans didn't give a definitive answer, but it looks like we got one today.
One has to wonder if Desmond Kings' experience playing nickel was the reason for his promotion to the active roster and why Griffin was released. If Thomas continues to struggle, King looks like the next man up to replace him.
#Texans activate Denzel Perryman, promote Desmond King to active roster, release Shaq Griffin, sign Matt Ammendola and Garret Wallow to practice squad, released Gerrid Doaks from practice squad and placed Tytus Howard (knee-patellar tendon surgery pending) on injured reserve https://t.co/knyyoqo7yC
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) November 29, 2023
The Texans also made some other adjustments to their roster on Wednesday, per Aaron Wilson. Linebacker Denzel Perryman returns from suspension, kicker Matt Ammendola and linebacker Garret Wallow join the practice squad. They also released Gerrid Doaks from the practice squad.
The other big piece of news involves left guard Tytus Howard. He heads to injured reserve, ending his season after hurting his knee against Jacksonville.