A SOCCER LOOK AHEAD

Ten Houston Dynamo matches worth checking out in 2018

Alberth Elis and the Dynamo will look to get back to the playoffs. Photo by Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

The 2018 Major League Soccer regular season calendar was unveiled on Thursday, including all 17 of the Houston Dynamo’s league matches at home this season. Fans who attended a match in 2017 rarely saw the Dynamo lose as the team boasted 12 wins, 5 draws and only one loss - which came two weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston.

This season’s calendar is fairly evened out in that the team will not play home or away for more than a two-game stretch, allowing for an attractive home match at least once a month. If you are interested in making the trip downtown, you may also be interested in checking out SportsMap’s guide to a Dynamo Matchday and the BBVA Compass Stadium cheat sheet.

Here are 10 home matches worth checking out this season:

Saturday, March 3 vs. Atlanta United FC (2:30 p.m. kickoff)

The Dynamo will open the season at home - and on national television - when they host 2017 expansion club Atlanta United FC for the very first time. The sister club of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons were the talk of the league last season due to their potent on-field offense, their world-class tactician and their devoted fans that broke MLS attendance records. 

Former Argentina national team and FC Barcelona manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has composed a side worthy of praise and young stars like 23-year-old Miguel Almiron and 24-year-old Josef Martinez will make this a great first test to kick off the season. As if the Dynamo need any additional motivation, it’s worth noting Atlanta won the only meeting between the clubs last season in a 4-1 beatdown where Almiron scored a hat-trick.

Saturday, April 21 vs. Toronto FC (2 p.m. kickoff)

The MLS Cup Champions come to town with their roster of stars - composed of the highest salary total in the league - in 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco and U.S. Men’s national team players Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. Because of MLS’ unbalanced schedule, this Eastern Conference team will be visiting BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time since late in the 2016 season - a meeting that was postponed from its original date due to inclement weather. Many fans missed out on seeimg this talented side on that occasion but, coming off winning the league title, that shouldn't be the case this time around as it's expected to be a hot ticket.

Saturday, May 5 vs. LA Galaxy (7:30 p.m. kickoff)

This “Cinco de Mayo” match should have plenty of Mexican flavor as the Dynamo’s Erick “Cubo” Torres - the club’s top scorer in 2017 - faces off against fellow countrymen Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos. The dos Santos brothers are all but shoe-ins to represent Mexico at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and this match may be a great opportunity to see them of before they join their national team ahead of preparations for Rusia. It will also be the return to Houston of Dominic Kinnear - the manager who led the Dynamo to their 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup titles - who these days is an assistant for the LA Galaxy.

Friday, May 25 vs. NYCFC (8 p.m. kickoff)

Another former MLS MVP, 2010 FIFA World Cup Champion David Villa may be visiting BBVA Compass Stadium for the last time when New York City FC come to town. Villa scored a brace in his last trip to Houston in 2016, a match were fans were treated to witnessing another World Cup Champion in the now retired Andrea Pirlo. The club owned by both the New York Yankees and the Premier League’s Manchester City F.C. is led by managed by former Arsenal star Patrick Vieira and is sure to be a tough outing.

Tuesday, July 3 vs. LAFC (8 p.m. kickoff)

This season, a new face joins MLS in 2018 expansion side Los Angeles FC. The team owned by a big name investors like Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Will Ferrell, Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm-Garciaparra has spared no expense in announcing their arrival with the signing of Mexico national team forward Carlos Vela and Uruguayan prospect Diego Rossi. Fans expecting to see Vela may not get an opportunity to see him on this date, however, as it occurs during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The team should still field a competitive side with MLS veterans like Benny Feilhaber, Laurent Ciman and Marco Ureña. The team is managed by Bob Bradley, who led the U.S. Men's national team to a second place finish in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Saturday, July 21 vs. FC Dallas (8 p.m. kickoff)

The first Texas Derby match of the season will be a much anticipated one as it takes place around the midway point of the season. Last season’s match against FC Dallas was the highest attended regular season game at BBVA Compass Stadium and there’s no reason to think this one won’t be a sellout. It will also be the first of three matches between the clubs in 2018, so expect both sides to want to get a lead on bragging rights. 

Saturday, August 4 vs. Sporting Kansas City (8 p.m. kickoff)

Speaking of rivalry games - although not officially dubbed as one - most devoted Dynamo fans will attest that matches against Sporting Kansas City are as much about personal pride as any. The two clubs developed this rivalry naturally during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 playoffs and, with the Dynamo’s return to the postseason, picked it back up in the 2017 playoff match that went to extra time. The Dynamo won that encounter 1-0 with a goal by Alberth Elis.

Thursday, August 23 vs. FC Dallas (8 p.m. kickoff)

Round two against FC Dallas will take place on a Thursday night as part of MLS’ rivalry week. The difference with this edition is that it will be less than a week removed from their third and final match of the season the next week in Frisco. It could be an opportunity for the Dynamo to seal the season series at home, making the result even sweeter.

Saturday, September 15 vs. Portland Timbers FC (7:30 p.m. kickoff)

The 2017 MLS MVP Diego Valeri will visit BBVA Compass Stadium as the push for the playoffs begins to hit the final stretch. Despite never winning in Houston, Portland nearly came close to doing that in 2017 at BBVA Compass Stadium in a back and forth contest that finished in a 2-2 draw. Mark this one as a match to visit late in the season.

Sunday, October 21 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (TBD p.m. kickoff)

The home finale during the regular season for the Dynamo will come against the team that eliminated them in last year’s playoff run. This edition will be between two teams expecting to make the playoffs and, as such, could have playoff seeding implications. Sounders FC will count on the likes of U.S. men’s national team forwards Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris and the ever electric Nicolas Lodeiro as they look to make it to a third-straight MLS Cup Final.

The full 2018 Houston Dynamo schedule can be found here.

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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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