DCU Face Another Talented Attack After Defensive Masterclass In Toronto

Mauro Manotas, Memo Rodriguez

Fresh off a scoreless draw in which D.C. United were able to fend off the third most shots in MLS history (35), Ben Olsen’s men head to the Lone Star State in search of another positive result against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night. The Black-and-Red will face another stiff test at the back when they line up opposite of one of the league’s most electrifying attacks

The Dynamo have been quietly taking care of business in the Western Conference and currently occupy fourth place. They have secured 20 points to start the season, compared to D.C.’s 24, while playing three fewer matches to this point. It will be interesting to see who Olsen elects to face the men in orange, given the wholesale changes he made in the previous midweek match. Only four regulars saw action from the opening whistle in Toronto, and a return to the three-man back line with Steve Birnbaum, Jalen Robinson, and Fred Brillant worked to perfection.

The offensive tandem of Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis have propelled Houston to their solid 6-2-2 start. Manotas has found the back of the net on six occasions, while adding four assists. Meanwhile, Elis has takes top spot in assists and is just behind his Colombian teammate with four goals.

Manotas was on the scoresheet once again on Wednesday night against the Portland Timbers, and guess who played provider? You got it.



Houston’s well-known ability to turn defense into attack in the blink of an eye and flood numbers forward was on full display two weeks ago in a Texas Derby triumph. FC Dallas were pushed up for a corner and were subsequently punished, as a Tomas Martinez clearance ignited a foray forward that ended in a one-touch Manotas finish.



Nothing has changed with the team’s ability to carve open defenses on the break, but they’ve been able to control games a bit more this season with an increase in average possession to add to their ability to get behind defenders with pace and deliver incisive through balls. Although he has yet to register an assist in 2019, veteran midfielder Boniek Garcia has been instrumental on both ends of the field and is second on the team with 1.6 key passes per game.

Homegrown player Memo Rodriguez lines up on the left side of the attack and had a bright start to 2019 after patiently waiting for playing time over the last couple of seasons. The 23-year-old was ahead of his teammates in the scoring department in the first few weeks with four goals to his name, but he has since cooled off. Head coach Wilmer Cabrera will be hoping he and Martinez, who plays just behind Manotas in midfield, can produce more in front of goal to help take the load off Manotas and Elis.

While Manotas currently leads the way in goals, it’s no secret that Elis is the engine that keeps this team running. The Portland Timbers were the latest team to illustrate the team’s dependence on Eli by limiting his influence just enough to earn a valuable road point. Containing the Honduran is easier said than done, but the teams who have managed to do so have been the ones to take points from the Dynamo. Elis was kept off the score sheet three out of four times in losses to the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders and stalemates with both Real Salt Lake and Portland.

While chances are D.C. United will not face a near-record shots again, they will need to show the same composure and organization at the back that helped steal a point in Toronto if they are to stifle another talented front line and escape the pressure-cooker of BBVA Compass Stadium with a result.

Roma Defender Chris Smalling Has Been Stellar In Italy

Chris Smalling, AS Roma

As if he’d not made enough of an impression since joining AS Roma on loan from Manchester United in the summer, defender Chris Smalling really stood out as an exceptional talent on the week of his 30th birthday. 

Hofstra Coach Simon Riddiough Doesn't Need The Power 5 To Define Success

Hofstra

By Jerry Beach

Simon Riddiough, the head coach of the Hofstra women’s soccer team, spent about two minutes of a 21-minute interview Tuesday afternoon discussing why he’s content at the Long Island school and not planning to see if he can replicate his success with a higher-profile Power Five school that would offer the resources and opportunities to make a deep NCAA Tournament run that are generally lacking in the mid-major arena.

Carlo Ancelotti, Aurelio De Laurentiis & Napoli Are In Complete Chaos

Carlo Ancelotti, Napoli

It’s hard to believe that only as far back as April 22, 2018, Napoli beat Juventus 1-0 in Turin to move top of the table with only four games remaining. Maurizio Sarri — himself now in charge at Juve — had broken the club record points total in each of the previous two campaigns, and would do so again in 2017-18, but the Naples men ultimately finished second, albeit with yet another unseen total of 91 points.

Canada Has An Opportunity To Prove Their Standing On Friday Against USMNT

Canada

This is the moment of truth for Canada's men's national team. 

Concacaf Nations League Returns For Final Group State In November

Gerardo Martino, Mexico

After nearly a month of waiting for the Concacaf Nations League to kick back into gear, the tournament is finally back this week with the final two matchdays in group play. 

Seattle Sounders & Toronto FC Clash With The MLS Cup On The Line

Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto FC

Just over a week after the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC went on the road and upset the favorites, MLS Cup 2019 is on the horizon as the 24th season in league history comes to a close. CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be the epicenter on Sunday at 3 PM when the two sides face off in the MLS Cup final for the third time in the past four years. 

Paulo Fonseca & The Unlikely Resurgence Of AS Roma In Serie A

AS Roma

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Potential USMNT Contributors From The Nations League Pre-Camp

Sebastian Lletget, USMNT

November 15 could be a day of reckoning for Gregg Berhalter and the United States men's national team. After last month's 2-0 defeat to Canada — the first loss to their neighbors in 35 years — Berhalter needs a win in Orlando to help rectify the USA's position in the first-ever Concacaf Nations League. Anything other than a win would mean that Canada will advance to the semifinals, a shocking result for the U.S.

10 Things In Italy: Mario Balotelli, de Ligt Handballs & Conte's Inter

Mario Balotelli, Brescia

With the action in Italy heating up both on and off the field, it’s time to get you caught up with what’s been happening in the world of Serie A and, as always, “10 Things” is here to bring you right up to date.

Concaclusions, Ep. 9: Pulisic Strikes Again, Jiménez Haunts Arsenal

Raul Jiménez, Mexico, Wolves

Another round of club play is in the books, and several of the region’s top players were in the headlines once again through clutch goals, quality performances, and even uncharacteristic errors.