THE SOCCER REPORT

Champions League, Boca-River, El Trafico highlight upcoming soccer schedule

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be featuring in his final MLS match. Photo: LA Galaxy

TV listings (All Times CT):

Tuesday, October 22

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Atletico Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Dinamo Zagreb (Galavision, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Manchester City vs. Atalanta (TNT, TUDNxtra)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Galatasaray vs. Real Madrid (UniMas, TUDN, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Olympiacos vs. Bayern Munich (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Club Brugge vs. Paris Saint-Germain (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Juventus vs. Lokomotiv Moscow (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Tottehnam Hotspur vs. Red Star Belgrade (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. River Plate (beIN SPORTS)

Wednesday, October 23

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Ajax vs. Chelsea (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg (Galavision, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Inter Milan vs. Dortmund (TNT, Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Slavia Prague vs. FC Barcelona (UniMas, TUDN, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Red Bull Salzburg vs. Napoli (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Genk vs. Liverpool (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Benfica vs. Lyon (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Lille vs. Valencia (TUDNxtra, B/R Live)

6:00 p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] New York City FC vs. Toronto FC (FS1, FOX Deportes)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Flamengo vs. Gremio (beIN SPORTS)

9:00 p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] Seattle Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake (FS1, FOX Deportes)

Thursday, October 24

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Partizan vs. Manchester United (UniMas, B/R Live)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Bratislava vs. Wolves (Galavision)

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

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Frankfurt vs. Standard Liege (Galavision, B/R Live)

7:00 p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union (ESPN2)

9:30p.m. - [MLS Cup Playoffs] Los Angeles FC vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN)

Friday, October 25

2:00 p.m. - [NBC Sports] Southampton vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

Saturday, October 26

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Aston Villa (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Everton (NBC Sports, Universo)

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

Sunday, October 27

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Newcastle vs. Wolves (NBC Sports)

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

2:30 p.m. - [NWSL Championship] North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars (ESPN)

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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