If you want a reason why Houston has struggled so mightily to score in June and July, start with the ongoing struggles of winger Oscar Boniek Garcia.
This year has turned into a frustrating series of stops and starts for the Honduran international. If he is not working through an injury, he may be heading out of town for international duty. Or just coming back from it, not well rested. And still dealing with injuries.
So the 2013 campaign around BBVA Compass Stadium has looked absolutely nothing like his arrival a year ago, when he supplied 4 goals and 6 assists in 17 matches upon his summer arrival. His presence on the right provided some nice balance to Brad Davis on the left (not to mention something completely different in the attack than what Davis generally offers, increasing the diversity by which Houston could get at teams).
The Dynamo has three goals in its last nine games. (An awful rate, even worse than D.C. United’s current scoring pace in 2013 … and they are steaming toward a league all-time low!) Personally, Garcia has no goals and just two assists in 10 appearances so far.
Garcia did, however, have a breakout night of sorts on Saturday. The Dynamo attacker didn’t get into the scoring in a 1-0 win over Philadelphia, but he was certainly a factor in the home team’s attack.
What Garcia said through a translator about his own performance … and the prospects of more in the games ahead:
It felt very good. I felt it physically, but from a footballing standpoint I think I really brought something to the game. … Without being able to be in the team it’s hard to grab a rhythm. Other than three balls I lost I feel really good about my performance and am happy to get back to that level.”
Struggling Swansea City host high-flying Liverpool (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports) at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
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Swansea haven’t won since the opening day of the season with manager Francesco Guidolin under intense pressure, while Liverpool has won three-straight games in the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp‘s methods are blowing opponents away.
In team news striker Borja Baston makes his first start for Swansea, while Liverpool bring back Dejan Lovren.
Swansea City: Fabianski; Rangel, van der Horn, Amat, Naughton; Britton, Cork, Fer; Routledge, Borja, Sigurdsson. Subs: Nordfeldt, Mawson, Taylor, Fulton, Ki, Barrow, McBurnie
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Mane, Coutinho; Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Sturridge, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Origi
The game in 100 words (or less): With one goal already accomplished for New York City FC this season, Patrick Vieira’s group made positive strides in capturing another on Friday night in Houston. David Villa’s 20th and 21st tallies of the season gave the visitors the lead after halftime and NYCFC managed to hold onto the points from there. With just two matches remaining following the win over the Dynamo, NYCFC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference on 51 points. Meanwhile, the Dynamo remain nine points out of the final spot in the West with four matches to play.
[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira gets big praise from Dynamo counterpart ]
Three moments that mattered
27′ — Harrison tests Willis from distance — Chances were at a minimum in the opening stanza, but Joe Willis had to get down quickly here to deny Jack Harrison on this blast.
52′ — Villa hits his 20th on the season — The Dynamo defense won’t be pleased when they watch this one again, but in his typical fashion, David Villa found his way in on goal.
73′ — Saunders watches as Rodriguez hits post — It can be a game of inches at times and the Dynamo were certainly on the wrong end of this one as Raul Rodriguez’s effort struck the post and stayed out.
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Man of the match: David Villa
Goalscorers: David Villa (52′, 90′)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The South Korean soccer league deducted nine points from league leader Jeonbuk Hyundai on Friday after one of the club’s employees was convicted of bribing referees in 2013.
The K-League also fined Jeonbuk 100 million won ($90,600). The club, which saw its 14-point lead over second-place FC Seoul reduced to a five-point margin, issued an apology and vowed to take measures to prevent it from happening again.
A court in Busan on Wednesday sentenced a Jeonbuk scout to a suspended prison term of two years for paying referees in exchange for favorable decisions in several league matches in 2013.
An official from Jeonbuk said the scout has been suspended by the team and it will soon make a decision whether to terminate his employment. He refused to be named, citing office rules.
The K-League had vowed reforms after being rocked by a massive match-fixing scandal in 2011, when 52 players were indicted for taking bribes in return for trying to manipulate the outcome of matches or betting their own money on the games.
PARIS (AP) Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has been removed from the France squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for an unspecified reason.
[ MORE: What’s Arsenal’s best XI in the Arsene Wenger era? ]
The French football federation gave no explanation for coach Didier Deschamps’s decision to replace Mathieu with Eliaquim Mangala, only saying he made the move “following a discussion” with the Barcelona player. Mangala is currently on a season-long loan at Valencia from Manchester City.
France takes on Bulgaria on Oct. 7 at the Stade de France before traveling to Amsterdam to play the Netherlands three days later in Group A.