GOAL!

Audi to donate $1,000 for every goal scored during MLS is Back Tournament

Audi Field is home to DC United. Audi has its U.S. headquarters near the stadium. Photo courtesy of Audi AG

This article originally appeared on AutomotiveMap.

Sports are back! The PBR and NASCAR were among the first. Heck, even MLB finally got its act together. Now, MLS is ready to kick off their season with a little help from Audi.

During the MLS is Back Tournament, the way the league is opening their abbreviated season this year, Audi will donate $1,000 to MLS Academies for every goal scored. During the finale, the company is committing to $5,000 per goal. Additionally, Audi will contribute $10,000 to the Academy represented by the MLS is Back Tournament Golden Boot winner (the tournament's leading goal scorer).

Earlier this year, the MLS Academies program added 64 teams. Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer

During the tournament, each MLS club will play three competition matches as part of the Group Sage. The MLS club roster was divided into six groups via random draw: one group of six teams and five groups of four teams. Each group is lettered A through F. According to fresh MLB rules, clubs in Groups B though F will play their inter-group opponents once during the Group Stage, Group A will play three of the possible five Group opponents.

Clubs were seeded based on their standing at the end of the 2019 season.

Dallas, which was part of Group B, was recently dropped from the tournament due to a rise in COVID-19 cases within the team. The schedule continues to be shifted as more cases are discovered within various teams.

During the Group Stage, clubs earn three points for a win, one point for a tie, and no points for a loss. Standings will only take into consideration the Group Stage matches, and not regular season matches already played. These matches count toward the team's 2020 MLS Regular Season standings and Competition standings.

Knockout Stage Competition Matches will not count toward the club's Regular Season standings. The Knockout Stage consists of 4 rounds: the Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and the Final.

Earlier this year, the MLS Academies program got a large boost in participants with 64 academy clubs that formerly participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy strategically aligning themselves with MLS's existing club academies structure as part of a player development platform. The U.S. and Canada-based teams total now sits at 94. During the 2019 season, MLS invested $70 million in the program.

Continue on AutomotiveMap to learn how Audi's commitment to the Academies extends into the regular season.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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