THE SOCCER REPORT

Atlanta United wins U.S. Open Cup; LA Derby highlight of MLS rivalry week

Houston Dynamo supporters made the road trip up to Frisco for the Texas Derby match against FC Dallas. Credit: Deporte Total USA

MLS Rivalry Week gave the American soccer fan lots to speak about while the heartbeat of "the beautiful game" kept beating thanks to action from all over the world.

Top Stories

90 in 90: FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo | 2019 MLS Highlightswww.youtube.com

  • Houston Dynamo lose 1-5 at FC Dallas; playoff possibility virtually over
  • Houston Dash fall 0-2 vs. Sky Blue FC; playoff hopes also bleak
  • Liverpool, Sevilla, Dortmund and Rennes leaders in their domestic leagues
  • Serie A kicks off with Inter, Napoli and Juve all among winners
  • Atlanta United defeat Minnesota United 2-1 in the 2019 U.S. Open Cup final on Tuesday night

Atlanta United down Minnesota to win US Open Cup| ESPN FCwww.youtube.com

The rest of the picture from the past week:

English Premier League

Every goal from Premier League 2019/20 Matchweek 3 | NBC Sportswww.youtube.com

Matchday 3 Results

  • Aston Villa 2-0 Everton
  • Norwich 2-3 Chelsea
  • Brighton 0-2 Southampton
  • Manchester United 1-2 Crystal Palace
  • Sheffield Utd 1-2 Leicester City
  • Watford 1-3 West Ham
  • Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
  • Bournemouth 1-3 Man City
  • Spurs 0-1 Newcastle
  • Wolves 1-1 Burnley
Top four: Liverpool (9), Man City (7), Arsenal (6), Leicester City (5)

Scoring leader: 5 - Raheem Sterling (Man City) / Teemu Pukki (Norwich)

Assists leader: 4 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Highlights FC Barcelona vs Real Betis (5-2)www.youtube.com

Matchday 2 - Top Results

  • Granada 0-2 Sevilla
  • Real Madrid 1-1 Valladolid
  • Celta Vigo 1-0 Valencia
  • Leganes 0-1 Atletico Madrid
  • Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis

Top four: Sevilla (6), Atletico Madrid (6), Real Madrid (4), Valladolid (4)

Scoring leader: 2 - Six players tied

Assists leader: 2 - Ander Capa (Bilbao) / Sergi Roberto (Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Sancho, Lewandowski, Osako & More - Top 5 Goals on Matchday 2www.youtube.com

Matchday 2 - Top Results

  • Cologne 1-3 Dortmund
  • Paderborn 1-3 Freiburg
  • Fortuna 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
  • Werder Bremen 1-3 Fortuna
  • Schalke 04 0-3 Bayern Munich
  • Leipzig 2-1 Eintracht
  • Hertha 0-3 Wolfsburg

Top four: Dortmund (6), Freiburg (6), Leipzig (6), Wolfburg (6)

Scoring leader: 5 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 3 - Marcel Sabitzer (Leipzig)

Italian Serie A

Parma 0-1 Juventus | CR7 goal ruled out by VAR as Chiellini scores winner | Serie Awww.youtube.com

Matchday 1 - Top Results

  • Parma 0-1 Juventus
  • Fiorentina 3-4 Napoli
  • Udinese 1-0 Milan
  • Roma 3-3 Genoa
  • Inter 4-0 Lecce

French Ligue 1

Top buts 3ème journée - Ligue 1 Conforama / 2019-20www.youtube.com

Matchday 3 - Top Results

  • Monaco 2-2 Nimes
  • Strasbourg 0-2 Rennes
  • PSG 4-0 Tolouse
  • Montpellier 1-0 Lyon

Top four: Rennes (9), Lyon (6), PSG (6), Nice (6)

Scoring leader: 3 - Habib Diallo (Metz) / Memphis Depay (Lyon) / Moussa Dembele (Lyon)

Assists leader: 3 - Thiago Mendes (Lyon)

Netherlands Eredivisie

Matchday 4 - Top Results

  • Heracles 1-1 Vitesse
  • Heerenveen 0-0 Twente
  • Utrecht 1-2 VVV

Top four: Willem II (9), Vitesse (8), Sparta (8), Ajax (7)

Scoring leader: 4 - Vangelis Pavlidis (Willem II)

Assists leader: 4 - Bryan Smeets (Sparta)

Major League Soccer

90 in 90: LAFC vs. LA Galaxy | 2019 MLS Highlightswww.youtube.com

East top seven: 1. Atlanta (48), 2. Philadelphia (48), 3. NYCFC (47), 4. NY Red Bulls (41), 5. D.C. United (39), 6. New England (38), 7. Toronto (37)

West top seven: 1. x - LAFC (62), 2. Real Salt Lake (43), 3. Seattle (43), 4. LA Galaxy (42), 5. Minnesota (42), 6. San Jose (41), 7. Dallas (40)

Scoring leader: 27 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 18 - Maxi Morales (NYCFC)

Liga MX

Top Eight: 1. Queretaro (16), 2. Santos Laguna (15), 3. Club America (15), 4. Tigres UANL (12), 5. Necaxa (10), 6. Leon (10), 7. Atlas (10), 8. Pumas (9)

Scoring leader: 5 - Two players tied

Assists leader: 4 - Luis Quinones (Tigres)

Superliga Argentina

Matchday 4 - Top Results

  • Arsenal 0-2 San Lorenzo
  • Gimnasia 0-1 Defensa y Justicia
  • Velez 3-1 Newell's Old Boys
  • Rosario 1-1 Patronato
  • Independiente 2-0 Colon
  • Godoy Cruz 2-1 Estudiantes
  • Cordoba 0-0 Racing Club
  • River Plate 0-1 Talleres Cordoba
  • Banfield 0-1 Boca Juniors

Top four: Boca (10), San Lorenzo (10), Arsenal Sarandi (9), Rosario Central (8)

Scoring leader: 3 - Three players tied

Assists leader: 2 - Nicolas de la Cruz (River Plate)

National Women's Soccer League

Thorns 3 - Red Stars 0: Midge Purce and Christine Sinclair lead Portland's rout | NWSL Highlightswww.youtube.com

Standings: 1. Portland Thorns (36), 2. North Carolina Courage (31), 3. Chicago Red Stars (29), 4. Utah Royals (28), 5. Reign FC (27), 6. Washington Spirit (25), 7. Houston Dash (22), 8. Orlando Pride (16), 9. Sky Blue FC (14)

Scoring leader: 13 - Sam Kerr (Chicago)

Assists leader: 5 - Lynn Williams (North Carolina) / Yuki Nagasato (Chicago)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, August 28

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Ajax vs. APOEL (TNT, TUDN)

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. LDU Quito (beIN Sports)

Thursday, August 29

12:00 p.m. - UEFA Champions League Group Draw (B/R Live)

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Cerro Porteno vs. River Plate (beIN Sports)

6:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] U.S. Women's National Team vs. Portugal (FS1)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monterrey vs. Pumas (FS2)

Friday, August 30

1:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Sevilla vs. Celta (beIN Sports en Español)

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Monchengladbach vs. RB Leipzig (FS2)

Saturday, August 31

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

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Mainz (FS1, FOX Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke vs. Hertha Berlin (FS2)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Sheffield United (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Osasuna vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Milan vs. Brescia (ESPN+)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Union Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund (FS2, UniMas)

1:45 p.m. - [Serie A] Juventus vs. Napoli (ESPN+)

7:30 p.m. - [MLS] Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE 57)

Sunday, September 1

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Wolves (NBC Sports)

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Spurs (NBC Sports)

12:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Eibar (beIN Sports)

1:35 p.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Roma (ESPN2)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Villarreal vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

5:30 p.m. - [MLS] Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy (FS1)

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Jake Odorizzi's turnaround has been one of the stories of Houston's success. Photo by Bob Levey / Getty Images.

Back on the first of May, the Astros lost to the Blue Jays 3-2 in Toronto, dropping the series two games to one and giving up the season series 4-2 in a potential postseason preview against a formidable AL foe. The win for the Blue Jays moved them up to 15-8 on the season, while Houston fell to .500 in 2022 at 11-11.

While it was certainly no time to panic, Houston's offense was having some real struggles, and they found themselves sitting third in the AL West behind the Mariners and the surging Angels. Things changed in a hurry, though, and now the Astros look like the Astros again.

Pitching has led the way

Houston didn't stay in third place in the division for long, as they took advantage of the opportunity to leapfrog the Mariners through a three-game sweep to start a seven-game homestand. The Astros outscored Seattle 14-2 in those games, with the two runs allowed coming in the finale after back-to-back shutouts to start the series.

The first of those came in a start by Jake Odorizzi, who has turned a complete 180 from the first three starts of the season by rattling off three quality starts in a row. In fact, after giving up nine earned runs in his first three games, he has allowed just one in his last three and has gone at least five innings in each to grab three-straight wins and has lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 3.38 in the process.

Odorizzi is just one of the great pitching stories going for Houston right now, as unlike in recent years when their bats have powered them to slugfest wins, it's been the Astros' pitching that has led the way for them to win lower-scoring, tighter games. While Houston saw the departure of Brent Strom in the offseason, which some may have thought would lead to a decline in some facets of Houston's pitching repertoire, so far in May, it's been the opposite. In fact, so far this month, Houston leads the entire league with a 1.13 ERA, .160 opponent batting average, and 0.75 WHIP.

Verlander continues to dominate

Speaking of terrific pitching, we can't go any further without commenting on how incredible Justin Verlander's return to the mound has been. Since his first game of the year, where despite a pitch limit was able to get through five one-run innings but was still tagged with a loss, he has gone at least six innings while getting four wins over his five last starts to improve to 4-1 on the year.

Although the run support for him has picked up, he hasn't needed a ton of it, which was evident in his most recent start against the Twins on May 10th. Going into the game with an already impressive 1.93 ERA, he cruised through the night against Minnesota, getting himself into the eighth carrying a no-hitter bid. Although he would allow a hit to break that bid up, it was, and is still, evident that there are no limitations on Verlander's dominance post-Tommy John surgery.

As Altuve goes, the offense goes

While there have certainly been some key offensive moments in the last eight games, they have averaged 4.13 runs per game, which, while not eye-popping, has been enough to back up the terrific pitching we've seen. One key part of the lineup, though, has been Jose Altuve. He went to the IL after injuring his hamstring in the April 18th game against the Angels, where he finished the day with a .167 average: much too low for his standards.

Since returning to the lineup and resuming his leadoff responsibilities, he has gone 10-for-32 with three home runs, increasing his average to .258 to help Houston reach their eight-game winning streak. Altuve also has six walks in those games, one way the Astros have created scoring opportunities for themselves as they lead the league with a 12.7% walk rate.

The winning streak will come to an end at some point for the Astros, but it's pretty safe to say that this version of the team, the one that finds a way to put together win after win, is more likely to be the one that we see in the remaining 132 games this season.

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