THE SOCCER REPORT

Champions League, Copa Libertadores semis and “El Clasico” highlight soccer schedule

FC Barcelona will have to get it done this week without Lionel Messi in Champions League and El Clásico. Nike, Inc.

The rivalry game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will be missing the top two stars in the world for the first time since 2007. Cristiano Ronaldo departed Real Madrid in the offseason while Lionel Messi will be out injured.

Down in South America, the Copa Libertadores semi finals begin this week on the road to crowning a new continental champion. To recap the week and what’s to come, here is a breakdown of the major leagues:

English Premier League

Chelsea and Manchester United kicked off the return from the international break with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. The Blues salvaged a point at home thanks to a Ross Barkley goal in stoppage time. Elsewhere in London, Tottenham won by a 1-0 margin at West Ham United. Brighton picked up three points at Newcastle, Everton defeated Crystal Palace 2-0, while Watford and Cardiff City also picked up wins. Manchester City’s 5-0 drubbing of Burnley keeps them top of the table.

One of the top storylines this week was Liverpool’s visit to Huddersfield Town because of the history of the managers. Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp faced off against his former Borussia Dortmund assistant David Wagner, now manager at Huddersfield. The match was decided by one goal, a Mohamed Salah score in the 24th minute, to keep Liverpool behind Man City. Arsenal made headlines of their own by ending the weekend slate with a 3-1 win over Leicester City - extending their winning streak to 10 in all competitions.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (23), 2. Liverpool (23), 3. Chelsea (21), 4. Arsenal (21), 5. Tottenham (21), 6. Bournemouth (17)

Scoring leader: 7 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Assists leader: 5 - Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City FC)

Spain’s La Liga

You may blink a few times in disbelief when you see the current standings in Spain. That’s because despite Barcelona returning to the top spot, the hierarchy has been challenged. Sevilla, last week’s leader, dropped to fourth thanks to their 4-2 loss at Barcelona. Atletico Madrid was held to a 1-1 draw at Villareal and, the biggest surprise, Real Madrid dropped to seventh after a 1-2 home loss to Levante. Alaves picked up a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo and Espanyol won 2-0 at Huesca, both good enough results to catapult them into the top three.

The big headline out of the weekend, besides Real Madrid’s fall from grace, was the injury to Lionel Messi in Barcelona’s match. That’s because Barcelona host hated rivals Real Madrid this coming weekend in a match that could determine the future of Madrid Manager Julen Lopetegui.

Top six: 1. Barcelona (18), 2. Espanyol (17), 3. Alaves (17), 4. Sevilla (16), 5. Atletico Madrid (16), 6. Valladolid (15)

Scoring leader: 8 - Cristhian Stuani (Girona)

Assists leader: 5 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Serbian striker Luka Jović skyrocketed to the top of the scoring chart this week with a five-goal performance in Frankfurt’s 7-1 win over Fortuna. Bayern Munich picked up a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg to rectify their early season drop and are now up to fourth. Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 96 drew 2-2, Hertha tied 1-1 with Freiburg, Werder Bremen picked up a 2-0 win at Schalke 04 and Monchengladbach won 4-0 against Mainz.

Borussia Dortmund continue at the top with a 4-0 win at Stuttgart. American midfielder Christian Pulisic returned from injury and grabbed an assist as Dortmund now look ahead to their clash with Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (20), 2. Monchengladbach (17), 3. Werder Bremen (17), 4. Bayern Munich (16), 5. RB Leipzig (15), 6. Hertha Berlin (15)

Scoring leader: 6 - Paco Alcacer (Dortmund) / Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 6 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)

Italian Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo picked up his fifth goal for Juventus in a 1-1 draw against Genea, the first time this season Juve drop points. The goal also marked Ronaldo’s 400th across the top five European leagues, the first player to reach that mark. Napoli gladly took advantage of trying to close back in on the title race, with a 3-0 win at Udinese. Inter Milan collected a cool 1-0 win over their rivals A.C. Milan while Lazio also got three points. Sampdoria and Fiorentina, both with draws this week, round out the top six.

Top six: 1. Juventus (25), 2. Napoli (21), 3. Inter Milan (19), 4. Lazio (18), 5. Sampdoria (15), 6. Fiorentina (14)

Scoring leader: 9 - Krzysztof Piątek (Genoa)

Assists leader: 6 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain continue to, unsurprisingly, wreck the French league with their latest win, 5-0, over Amiens SC. The defending champs are now undefeated in their first ten matches to start the season. Lille valiantly follow in second - eight points behind - with a 2-1 win at Dijon. Montpellier and Marseille both pick up three points but the former jumped the latter in the standings on goal differential. Lyon jumps to fifth with a 2-0 win and St-Etienne’s 1-1 setback against Rennes.

Top six: 1. PSG (30), 2. Lille (22), 3. Montpellier (19), 4. Marseille (19), 5. Lyon (17), 6. St-Etienne (16)

Scoring leader: 9 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 5 - Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Dimitri Payet (Marseille)

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Major League Soccer

How quickly can a week change things? In MLS, three more teams clinched their playoff spots. D.C. United did so by winning both their matches this week to complete the comeback from a season of disarray to one of hope and ascension with the arrival of Wayne Rooney. The Black & Red where on the playoff bubble to enter the week but on Sunday clinched their appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Seattle clinched - their 10th consecutive playoff appearance - midweek while rival Portland did the same on Sunday. LA Galaxy picked up three points as Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up a goal and an assist in the 3-1 win against Minnesota United, in front of 52,242 fans at TCF Bank Stadium. The Galaxy now control their destiny and can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the visiting Houston Dynamo on Sunday.

The race for the top spot, and the Supporters’ Shield trophy, will come down to the last day of the season as both Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls picked up wins. Atlanta’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire also saw them tie Toronto FC’s 2017 record of 69 points - the most by any team in one season. They, as well as the Red Bulls, have an opportunity to surpass that mark on Sunday’s Decison Day.

East top six: 1. Atlanta United (69), 2. NY Red Bulls (68), 3. NYC FC (53), 4. Philadelphia (50), 5. D.C. United (50), 6. Columbus (48).

West top six: 1. Sporting KC (59), 2. LAFC (57), 3. FC Dallas (57), 4. Seattle (56), 5. Portland (54), 6. Real Salt Lake (49).

Scoring leader: 30 - Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Assists leader: 17 - Borek Dockal (Philadelphia Union) / Luciano Acosta (D.C. United)

Liga MX

With five games to go in the regular season, the playoff picture is taking shape in Mexico’s top division. Club America took the top spot thanks to a 3-0 win over Tijuana and a Cruz Azul 0-2 loss at Queretaro. The latter also benefited as they hold the final playoff spot, at least for the moment. Pumas and Tigres tied 3-3 and Lobos drew 1-1 with Chivas of Guadalajara. Monarca’s 2-0 win over Puebla help them lead the playoff bubble as does Leon’s 2-0 win at Necaxa.

Top eight: 1. Club America (27), 2. Cruz Azul (26), 3. Santos Laguna (25), 4. Pumas UNAM (23), 5. Monterrey (23), 6. Toluca (22), 7. Tigres UANL (19), 8. Queretaro (19)

Scoring leader(s): 10 - Julio Furch (Santos Laguna) / André-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)

Assists leader: 7 - Dorlan Pabon (Monterrey)

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2018 Concacaf Women's Championship

After securing their berths in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S. and Canada women faced off in Frisco to crown a regional champion. The U.S. successfully defended their crown, picking up their eighth Concacaf Women’s Championship title. Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan were the goalscorers in the 2-0 win.

Jamaica and Panama faced off in the third place match where one of the two sides would assure themselves a first appearance at the Women’s World Cup. After a 2-2 draw, and with no winner decided in extra time, Jamaica would advance 4-2 on penalties. Panama can still qualify when they face Argentina in a home-and-home playoff series in November.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, Oct. 24

12 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] PSV Eindhoven vs. Tottenham (TNT/UniMas)

2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] FC Barcelona vs. Inter Milan (TNT/Univision)

2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] PSG vs. Napoli (B/R Live/UniMas)

2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Dortmund vs. Atletico Madrid (B/R Live/Galavision)

2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Liverpool vs. Red Star Belgrade (B/R Live)

7:45 p.m. -  [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. Palmeiras (FOX Soccer Match Pass/Fanatiz)

Thursday, Oct. 25

12 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] AC Milan vs. Real Betis (B/R Live/UniMas)

12 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Sporting CP vs. Arsenal (B/R Live)

2 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Chelsea vs. BATE (B/R Live)

2 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Villarreal vs. Rapid Vienna (B/R Live/UniMas)

Friday, Oct. 26

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Freiburg vs. Monchengladbach (FS2)

2 p.m. - [La Liga] Valladolid vs. Espanyol (beIN Sports en Espanol)

7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Santos Laguna vs. Monterrey (Univision Deportes)

9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Veracruz vs. Pachuca (Univision Deportes)

Saturday, Oct. 27

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Dortmund vs. Hertha Berlin (Univision Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. Bayern Munich (FS2/FOX Deportes)

9 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Cardiff (NBC Sports)

11 a.m. - [Serie A] Empoli vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. Stuttgart (FS2/FOX Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Tigres vs. Lobos BUAP (Galavision/ESPN Deportes)

7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Chivas vs. Morelia (Univision/Facebook)

9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Cruz Azul vs. Club America (Univision)

Sunday, Oct. 28

8:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

9:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Schalke (FS2)

10 a.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

11 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Everton (NBC)

12 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Werder Bremen vs. Leverkusen (FS1)

12 p.m. - [Serie A] Milan vs. Sampdoria (ESPN)

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] Decision Day (ESPN) / Sporting KC vs. LAFC (FS1) / All other matches (ESPN+)

Monday, Oct. 29

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Inter Milan (ESPN+)

2 p.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

 

 

 

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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