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.

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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