THE SOCCER REPORT

Back-to-back Clásicos, MLS opening weekend highlight upcoming schedule

The Houston Dynamo are back at BBVA Compass Stadium with two matches this week.

Different story lines and renewed rivalries await as another busy week of soccer begins with a midweek dose of Premier League beginning on Tuesday. Real Madrid will host FC Barcelona twice this week in two different competitions, capturing the eyes of millions in one of the world's most heated sports rivalries. Finally, MLS is back with it's 24th season kicking off on Saturday.

UEFA Champions League

The first leg matches of the Round of 16 are in the books with plenty to play for when the second leg matches begin next week. In these latter matches, Atletico Madrid grabbed the biggest headlines for their 2-0 home win over Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus.

Round of 16 - first leg results:

  • Roma 2-1 Porto
  • Manchester United 0-2 PSG
  • Tottenham 3-0 Dortmund
  • Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid
  • Lyon 0-0 FC Barcelona
  • Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich
  • Atletico Madrid 2-0 Juventus
  • Schalke 04 2-3 Manchester City

UEFA Europa League

Round of 32 - second leg results:

  • Sevilla 2-0 Lazio (3-0 agg.)
  • Red Bull Salzburg 4-0 Club Brugge (5-2 agg.)
  • Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (6-3 agg.)
  • Villareal 1-1 Sporting CP (2-1 agg.)
  • Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 Plzen (4-2 agg.)
  • Zenit 3-1 Fenerbace (3-2 agg.)
  • Valencia 1-0 Celtic (3-0 agg.)
  • Napoli 2-0 Zurich (5-1 agg.)
  • Arsenal 3-0 BATE (3-1 agg.)
  • Genk 1-4 Slavia Praha (1-4 agg.)
  • Inter Milan 4-0 Rapid Vienna (5-0 agg.)
  • Leverkusen 1-1 Krasnodar (1-1 agg., Krasnodar wins on away goals)
  • Benfica 0-0 Galatasaray (2-1 agg.)
  • Real Betis 1-3 Rennes (4-6 agg.)
  • Chelsea 3-0 Malmo (5-1 agg.)
  • Dynamo Kiev 1-0 Olympiacos (3-2 agg.)

English Premier League

Manchester United and Liverpool played to a nil-nil draw at Old Trafford but the biggest headlines this weekend came from two sides not in league action. Manchester City and Chelsea played the final of the English Football League Cup, known also as the Carabao Cup, in a 0-0 draw that had to be decided in penalties. Drama ensued in extra time as Chelsea goalkeepeer Kepa Arrizabalaga grabbed all the headlines by refusing to sub out prior to penalty kicks. City won 4-3 on penalties.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (66), 2. Manchester City (65), 3. Tottenham (60), 4. Arsenal (53), 5. Manchester United (52), 6. Chelsea (50)

Scoring leader: 17 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) / Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Highlights Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona (2-4) www.youtube.com

Lionel Messi continues to have a spectacular season, this week putting up a hat-trick against formidable foes Sevilla. Messi leads the league in goals and assists while Barcelona sit comfortably at the top of the standings.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (57), 2. Atlético Madrid (50), 3. Real Madrid (48), 4. Getafe (39), 5. Sevilla (37), 6. Alaves (37)

Scoring leader: 25 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 11 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Dortmund (54), 2. Bayern Munich (51), 3. Monchengladbach (43), 4. RB Leipzig (42), 5. Wolfsburg (38), 6. Eintracht Frankfurt (37)
Scoring leader: 15 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt

Assists leader: 10 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund) / Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (69), 2. Napoli (56), 3. Inter Milan (47), 4. Milan (45), 5. Roma (44), 6. Lazio (38)

Scoring leader: 19 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Assists leader: 8 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) / Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (68), 2. Lille (51), 3. Lyon (46), 4. Saint-Étienne (43), 5. Marseille (41), 6. Stade Reims (41)

Scoring leader: 22 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 8 - Nicolas Pepe (Lille) / Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Kenny Lala (Strasbourg)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (58), 2. Ajax (56), 3. Feyenoord (43)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (58), 2. Club Brugge (50), 3. Standard Liège (46)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Porto (57), 2. Benfica (56), 3. Braga (49)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (63), 2. Rangers (55), 3. Aberdeen (50)

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Concacaf Champions League

#SCCL 2019 Weekly Recap www.youtube.com

The Houston Dynamo got their season to a successful start with a 1-0 away victory against Guatemalan side CD Guastatoya. For a few takeaways from that match, click here.

Round of 16 - first leg results:
  • Deportivo Saprissa 1-0 Tigres UANL
  • Independiente (Panama) 4-0 Toronto FC
  • Guastatoya 0-1 Houston Dynamo
  • Atletico Pantoja 0-2 New York Red Bulls
  • Talleres Cordoba 2-2 Palestino
  • Marathon 2-6 Santos Laguna
  • Alianza 0-0 Monterrey
  • Sporting KC 3-0 Toluca FC
  • Herediano 3-1 Atlanta United

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer's 24th season kicks off Saturday with a total of 24 teams now that FC Cincinatti joins the league. The league will also feature a new playoff format where the top seven teams in each conference advance to the playoffs.

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Tigres UANL (19), 2. Monterrey (18), 3. Leon (17), 4. Santos Laguaa (14), 5. Chivas Guadalajara (14), 6. Pachuca (14), 7. Club Tijuana (13), 8. Club America (12)

Scoring leader: 7 - Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) / Angel Mena (Leon) / Brian Fernandez (Necaxa)

Assists leader: 6 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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Copa Libertadores

Third round - first leg results:

  • Melgar 2-0 Caracas FC
  • Talleres Cordoba 2-2 Palestino
  • Defensor Sporting 0-2 Atletico Mineiro
  • Libertad 1-0 Atletico Nacional

Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (48), 2. Defensa y Justicia (45), 3. Boca Juniors (38), 4. Atletico Tucuman (36)

Scoring leader: 16 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 7 - Walter Montillo (Tigre)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Feb. 26

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

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Houston Dynamo vs. CD Guastatoya (YahooSports.com)

Wednesday, Feb. 27

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports)

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

Thursday, Feb. 28

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

Friday, Mar. 1

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Augsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund (FS2)

Saturday, Mar. 2

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Nuremberg vs. RB Leipzig (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Frankfurt vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (FS2)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)

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

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

5:00 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake (KUBE57)

Sunday, Mar. 3

6:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Watford vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

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

10:15 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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