The Soccer Report

Agüero, Messi and Ronaldo among weekend scorers; Atlanta's Almiron sold for MLS-record $26 million

Sergio Aguero scored his 10th Premier League hat-trick for Manchester City against Arsenal. Credit: Puma.

There's plenty to digest from the past week in soccer, from the craziness of Thursday's deadline day to the title-implicating results of the weekend. Here is a breakdown of all the action:

English Premier League

There were two rounds of Premier League action this week and both provided some drama in the title race. On Tuesday, Newcastle United looked to have dashed Manchester City's title hopes after the defending champions were upset 2-1 at St. James' Park. That left Liverpool with a chace to extend their lead by as much as seven points with a win over Leicester City on Wednesday, which ended in a 1-1 draw. City would regain their form on Sunday with a 3-1 home win over Arsenal - a result made more important by Liverpool's 1-1 away draw at West Ham on Monday. Now, a title race that could've been all but decided is back to a three point difference, with Spurs quietly two points behind City in third. With 13 dates left to play, the title race is nowhere near over.

Of course, Thursday's transfer deadline day left much to be talked about in the Premier League... for some. Tottenham, for starters, did not make a signing in back-to-back January transfer windows. London rivals Chelsea did as the Blues acquired striker Gonzalo Higuain from Milan. The Argentine, who reunites with his former Napoli manager, scored twice in Saturday's 5-0 win over Huddersfield. Newcastle were among the teams that made a splash by signing Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron for a club record £20 million ($26 million) on a five-year deal.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (62), 2. Manchester City (59), 3. Tottenham (57), 4. Chelsea (50), 5. Manchester United (48), 6. Arsenal (47)

Scoring leader: 16 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Highlights FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF (2-2) www.youtube.com

Leo Messi comes up big for FC Barcelona once more, with two goals this week in what could've been a disaster loss to a formidable Valencia who took a 0-2 lead at the Camp Nou. What makes it a sweeter victory is the loss of second place Atletico Madrid, 0-1 at Real Betis, to extend Barcelona's stranglehold on the title. Real Madrid won 3-0 against Alaves and will bank on Barcelona dropping more points to remain hopeful about a last gasp title run.

Off the field, Cirque du Soleil announced a show modeled after the Argentine sensation titled, "Messi10." The show will debut with showings to the public later this year in Barcelona before going international in 2020.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (50), 2. Atlético Madrid (44), 3. Real Madrid (42), 4. Sevilla (36), 5. Getafe (32), 6. Real Betis (32)

Scoring leader: 21 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 10 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Leaders Borussia Dortmund continue with breathing room despite dropping points in a 1-1 draw at Frankfurt. Bayern Munich, who was on a charge up the table, lost 3-1 at Bayer Leverkusen to drop down to 3rd in the standings.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (49), 2. Monchengladbach (42), 3. Bayern Munich (42), 4. RB Leipzig (37), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (32), 6. Wolfburg (31)

Scoring leader: 14 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 9 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund / Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Juventus 3-3 Parma | Gervinho Snatches Late Draw After Ronaldo Double | Serie A youtu.be

It was a bit of a down week for Juventus after the Italian giants were eliminated from the Coppa Italia in a 3-0 quarterfinal loss at Atalanta. The slump carried over to their league form as the defending champions dropped points against Parma thanks to a goal given up in stoppage team. Cristiano Ronaldo did score twice and retook the leadership in the scoring table.

Top six: 1. Juventus (60), 2. Napoli (51), 3. Inter Milan (40), 4. Milan (36), 5. Atalanta (35), 6. Roma (35)

Scoring leader: 17 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Assists leader: 8 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (56), 2. Lille (46), 3. Lyon (43), 4. Saint-Étienne (37), 5. Montpellier (36), 6. Strasbourg (35)

Scoring leader: 18 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 8 - Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Memphis Depay (Lyon) / Nicolas Pepe (Lille)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (55), 2. Ajax (50), 3. Feyenoord (39)

Scoring leader: 18 - Luuk de Jong (PSV)

Assists leader: 10 - Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord) / Steven Bergwijn (PSV)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (54), 2. Club Brugge (45), 3. Antwerp (45)

Scoring leader: 17 - Mbwana Samatta (Genk)

Assists leader: 12 - Hans Vanaken (Brugge)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Porto (50), 2. Benfica (47), 3. Braga (46)

Scoring leader: 13 - Dyego Sousa (Braga)

Assists leader: 9 - Pizzi (Benfica)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (54), 2. Rangers (48), 3. Aberdeen (46)

Scoring leader: 13 - Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)

Assists leader: 8 - James Tavernier (Rangers)

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Major League Soccer

MLS took a major stride in it's attempt to grow into a "selling league" with the record sale of Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron to the Premier League's Newcastle United for a reported $26 million transfer fee. That wasn't the only bit of craziness as D.C. United's own #10 Luciano Acosta was reportedly on his way to PSG, and even flew to Paris to complete the transfer, before the deal fell apart after the clubs could not agree on a price.

On the field, less than a month remains for the start of the 2019 season as teams begin to take part in friendlies. The Dynamo returns to competitive action in about two weeks for their part in the Concacaf Champions League before kicking off the season on March 2nd against Real Salt Lake. In the meanwhile, the club is in Tucson,Arizona for preseason friendlies against MLS competition (times and dates in the schedule below).

Liga MX

Tijuana vs. Toluca | 2019 Liga MX Highlights www.youtube.com

Top eight: 1. Monterrey (11), 2. Necaxa (10), 3. Tigres UANL (10), 4. Atlas (10), 5. Chivas Guadalajara (10), 6. Club America (9), 7. Club Leon (8), 8. Lobos BUAP (7)

Scoring leader: 4 - Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) / Leonardo Ramos (Lobos BUAP)

Assists leader: 4 - Carlos Rodríguez (Monterrey)

Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (42), 2. Defensa y Justicia (39), 3. Boca Juniors (31), 4. Atletico Tucuman (31)

Scoring leader: 14 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 5 - Luis Miguel Rodriguez (Atletico Tucuman)

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U.S. Men's National Team

MNT vs. Costa Rica: Highlights - Feb. 2, 2019 www.youtube.com

The U.S. Men's National Team notched their second win under new coach Gregg Berhalter with a 2-0 result over Costa Rica. The result should be taken with a grain of salt given it wasn't either team's best squad due to this match not being played on a FIFA international date, meaning European-based players would not be released. The USMNT's next friendlies should provide a better litmus test when they face off on March 21st against Ecuador and March 26th against Chile, the latter taking place in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Feb. 5

11:30 a.m. - [German Cup] Heidenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Dortmund vs. Werder Bremen (ESPN3)

Wednesday, Feb. 6

11:30 a.m. - [German Cup] RB Leipzig vs. Wolfsburg (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Schalke 04 vs. Dusseldorf (ESPN3)

2:00 p.m. - [Copa Del Rey] FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (beIN SPORTS)

7:00 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United (HoustonDynamo.com)

Thursday, Feb. 7

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Empoli (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Real Betis vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)

Friday, Feb. 8

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. Bayer Leverkusen (FS2)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Chievo vs. Roma (ESPN+)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Veracruz vs. Tigres UANL (Univision Deportes)

Saturday, Feb. 9

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Fulham vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Frankfurt (FOX Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim (FS2/Univision Deportes)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Bournemouth (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Arsenal (CNBC)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Burnley (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04 (FS2)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Parma vs. Inter Milan (ESPN+)

7:00 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC (HoustonDynamo.com)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club America vs. Club Leon (Univision)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Necaxa vs. Chivas Guadalajara (Univision)

Sunday, Feb. 10

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Sassuolo vs. Juventus (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

12:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Toluca vs. Cruz Azul (Univision)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] AC Milan vs. Cagliari (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

Monday, Feb. 11

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Wolves vs. Newcastle United (NBC Sports)

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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