The Soccer Report

Barcelona clinch 26th La Liga title; Liverpool's van Dijk named PFA Players' PoY

Barcelona have their sights on reclaiming the Champions League trophy after watching rivals Real Madrid lift it the past three years. Credit: Nike, Inc.

FC Barcelona joined Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as the latest side to clinch their domestic league. Unlike the other two, Barça now focus their energy on getting past Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Liverpool, Barcelona's opponent, will have the opposite challenge of putting aside their current fight for the Premier League to try and advance to the UCL final for the second straight year. Ajax and Tottenham will duel in the other semifinal series.

UEFA Champions League

Four sides remain in what is probably the best soccer tournament (after the World Cup, of course) with Barcelona considered the favorite to win it all. The battle between Barça and Liverpool matches up the world's best attacker in Leo Messi against the best defender going today in Virgil van Dijk. The other series is a battle of Cinderella teams between Tottenham and Ajax.

UEFA Europa League

Thursday will have similar drama as not only will the four teams left want to lift the cup at the end of the season but they all have a stake in wanting to secure the Champions League spot that comes with it. All four teams still have a chance to accomplish that through their league standings but, with the Premier League standings as tight as it is, the Europa League serves as an important insurance policy.

English Premier League

The saga continues between Liverpool and Manchester City as goal line technology played a part to add to the drama of the title race. No side is letting up, making this a photo finish to the end. In the awards category, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk was awarded with this season's PFA Player of the Year Award and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling won the PFA's Young Player of the Year Award.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (92), 2. Liverpool (91), 3. Tottenham (70), 4. Chelsea (68), 5. Arsenal (66), 6. Manchester United (65)

Scoring leader: 21 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Assists leader: 13 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC) / Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)

Spain's La Liga

Top six: 1. (C) - FC Barcelona (83), 2. Atlético Madrid (74), 3. Real Madrid (65), 4. Getafe (55), 5. Sevilla (55), 6. Valencia (52)

Scoring leader: 34 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 13 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) / Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (71), 2. Dortmund (69), 3. RB Leipzig (64), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (54), 5. Monchengladbach (51), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (51)

Scoring leader: 21 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 14 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. (C) - Juventus (88), 2. Napoli (70), 3. Inter Milan (62), 4. Atalanta (59), 5. Roma (58), 6. Torino (56)

Scoring leader: 23 - Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 10 - Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. (C) - PSG (84), 2. Lille (68), 3. Lyon (62), 4. Saint-Étienne (59), 5. Marseille (54), 6. Montpellier (51)

Scoring leader: 30 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 12 - Teji Savanier (Nimes)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. Ajax (80), 2. PSV Eindhoven (80), 3. Feyenoord (62)

Belgian First Division A

Championship Round: 1. Genk (47), 2. Club Brugge (41), 3. Antwerp (38), 4. Standard Liege (33), 5. Anderlecht (27), 6. Gent (26)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (78), 2. Porto (76), 3. Sporting CP (70)

Scottish Premier League

Championship: 1. Celtic (81), 2. Rangers (72), 3. Aberdeen(61)

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Concacaf Champions League

Monterrey is a bit of a quiet place these days as neither side of fans wants to jinx their team in the regional final to determine the champion of Concacaf. Monterrey took a 1-0 win away at Tigres and will look to finish the job at home on Wednesday. Tigres fans, however, remain hopeful that their side can be crowned champions on their rivals' home turf just as they did in Liga MX a few seasons ago.

Major League Soccer

East top seven: 1. D.C. United (17), 2. Montreal (17), 3. Philadelphia (14), 4. Toronto (13), 5. Columbus (13), 6. Orlando (12), 7. NYCFC (12)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (23), 2. LA Galaxy (22), 3. Seattle (18), 4. FC Dallas (17), 5. Houston (16), 6. Minnesota (14), 7. Real Salt Lake (10)

Scoring leader: 11 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 6 - Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) / Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC)

Liga MX

One matchday remains in Mexico to decide the eight teams that will advance to this season's playoffs. Tijuana is currently in the final spot and they host 9th place Puebla where the winner will advance.

Top eight: 1. Leon (38), 2. Tigres UANL (34), 3. Monterrey (30), 4. Cruz Azul (29), 5. Pachuca (28), 6. Necaxa (26), 7. Club America (26), 8. Tijuana (25)

Scoring leader: 14 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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National Women's Soccer League

Standings: 1. North Carolina Courage (7), 2. Utah Royals (6), 3. Chicago Red Stars (5), 4. Portland Thorns (5), 5. Houston Dash (4), 6. Washington Spirit (3), 7. Seattle Reign (2), 8. Sky Blue FC (1), 9. Orlando Pride (1)

Scoring leader: 4 - Crystal Dunn (North Carolina)

Assists leader: 2 - Lynn Williams (North Carolina) / Meghan Klingenberg (Portland)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Apr. 30

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Tottenham vs. Ajax (TNT, Univision, Univision Deportes)

Wednesday, May. 1

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] FC Barcelona vs. Liverpool (TNT, Univision, Univision Deportes)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Monterrey vs. Tigres UANL (YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes)

Thursday, May. 2

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Arsenal vs. Valencia (B/R Live, UniMas)

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Frankfurt vs. Chelsea (B/R Live, Univision Deportes)

Friday, May. 3

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

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

Saturday, May. 4

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

8:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Hannover (FS2)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Southampton (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff vs. Crystal Palace (NBC)

1:00 p.m. - [MLS] NY Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Newcastle vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

3:00 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas (Twitter, Univision)

Sunday, May. 5

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

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

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

11:00 a.m. - [Budesliga] Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (FS2)

5:00 p.m. - [NWSL] Houston Dash vs. Orlando Pride (YahooSports.com)

8:00 p.m. - [MLS] Sporting KC vs. Atlanta United (FS1)

Monday, May. 2

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Leicester City (NBCSports)

ELIS INJURED IN COMEBACK WIN

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over D.C. United

Credit Trask Smith/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo withstood Wayne Rooney's D.C. United plus an injury to star player Alberth Elis on their way to their seventh win of the season. El Campo native Memo Rodriguez and off-season signing Thomas McNamara scored in the 67th and 68th minutes, respectively, to lead the club to a comeback victory.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Call it a comeback

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United | May 18, 2019 youtu.be

Both the Dynamo and D.C. United were undefeated this season in matches where they took the lead first. Houston's record was 1-1-2 when giving up the first goal.

On Saturday night, they didn't need to rely on the advantage of opening up the scoreline. Wayne Rooney scored the match's first goal right after the start of the second half before the Dynamo turned on the pressure in attack.

Perhaps the most impressing part of the result was doing it without the wide threats of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto on the field. Instead it was their substitutes, coincidentally, that drove home the victory.

2) Winning without Elis

Alberth Elis took a headbutt to the side of his skull at the start of the match when he and D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum jumped to dispute a ball in the air. Both players were taken out to the sidelines to get checked, Birnbaum had his head taped after bleeding, and were eventually allowed to return.

It would be minutes later that Elis asked for his substitution, which came in the 11th minute, and was subsequently taken to the locker room for a further evaluation. Despite passing the MLS concussion protocol, the Honduran playmaker wasn't well enough to continue the match.

Elis has been the most influential player for the team this season and a win without him will be a confidence booster. The big question now will be how long the team will be without one their most important contributors.

3) Memo leads the way

An inspired Memo Rodriguez was key to the Dynamo overturning the deficit at home, helping the team avoid a three-match winless streak. The homegrown midfielder took the responsibility of providing a spark in attack by creating his own shooting opportunity.

His goal in the 67th minute injected energy into the crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium and into his team. The Dynamo quickly went for another score and got it just a minute later.

With five goals and two assists, Rodriguez is enjoying his best season for the club. He'll likely pass his career high for minutes played in one season during the first half of the following match - eight games sooner than what it took him to reach that mark last year.

4) A win for Maynor

Defender Maynor Figueroa missed Saturday's match due to his father's passing on Wednesday night. The Honduran defender was on the field for the Dynamo against Timbers FC when the news broke in his home country.

The club showed solidarity with the seven-year Premier League veteran by dedicating the match to him in their pregame team photo. Figueroa joined the team in the off-season after three years at rival FC Dallas and has appeared in the majority of the Dynamo starting lineups this year.

Alejandro Fuenmayor took Figueroa's place in Saturday's starting XI and is expected to continue until Figueroa's return. The Dynamo have two league games left before this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, a tournament Figueroa is expected to feature in for Honduras.

5) Rooney draws crowd but no sellout

Manchester United and England National Team Legend Wayne Rooney was in town with D.C. United. His appearance, unfortunately for the Dynamo, did very little for the gate in comparison to the visits of other league draws like LA's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Several Manchester United jerseys were seen in what was announced to be a crowd of 15,811 attendees at the 22,000 capacity stadium. That number is only the third highest crowd seen this year after the opening match and the derby against FC Dallas.

The three-time World Cup veteran and former UEFA Champions League winner held up his end with a goal in the 46th minute and, despite the loss, has helped D.C. to a top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Still, hope is bleak if a player of his stature has that little effect on the overall Houston soccer market - if they even knew he was in town.

Dynamo player of the game: Memo Rodriguez

Next up:

Saturday, May 25 at Minnesota United FC (7:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57) [ESPN+ for U.S. non-Houston markets]

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