THE SOCCER REPORT

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

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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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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