THE SOCCER REPORT

Champions League returns with PSG, Spurs and Real Madrid wins

Adidas unveiled the match ball for the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final. Courtesy: adidas

The theme of this week's actions was international competition with the return of the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League and the third round of the Copa Libertadores of South America. Concacaf teams are about to join in on the action with the start of the 2019 Concacaf Champions League, in which the Houston Dynamo will play in Guatemala City on Tuesday night.

UEFA Champions League

Roma and Tottenham were the winning home sides this week while Real Madrid and PSG picked up important away wins against Ajax and Manchester United respectfully. This week, Lyon vs. Barcelona, Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich, Atletico vs. Juventus and Schalke 04 vs. Manchester City will round out the rest of the round of 16 first leg matches.
Round of 16 - first leg results:
  • Roma 2-1 Porto
  • Manchester United 0-2 PSG
  • Tottenham 3-0 Dortmund
  • Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid

UEFA Europa League

Round of 32 - first leg results:

  • Fenerbace 1-0 Zenit St. Petersburg
  • Olympiacos 2-2 Dynamo Kyiv
  • Lazio 0-1 Sevilla
  • Rapid Vienna 0-1 Inter Milan
  • Slava Praha 0-0 Genk
  • Galatasaray 1-2 Benfica
  • Rennes 3-3 Real Betis
  • BATE 1-0 Arsenal
  • FC Krasnodar 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen
  • Plzen 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
  • Brugge 2-1 Red Bull Salzburg
  • Celtic 0-2 Valencia
  • Malmo 1-2 Chelsea
  • FC Zurich 1-3 Napoli
  • Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Sporting CP 0-1 Villareal
  • Ajax 1-2 Real Madrid

English Premier League

Action in England's top division was stalled this weekend as the FA Cup took center stage. The quarter-final matches are paired as follows: Millwall vs. Brighton, Swansea City vs. Manchester City, Watford vs. Crystal Palace and Wolves vs. Manchester United. The Prem resumes Friday with a London match-up as West Ham hosts Fulham.
Top six: 1. Manchester City (65), 2. Liverpool (65), 3. Tottenham (60), 4. Manchester United (51), 5. Arsenal (50), 6. Chelsea (50)

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

Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

In Spain's top-flight, FC Barcelona continues to make room between themselves and the field in the title race. Leo Messi and co. collected three points while Real Madrid slipped 2-1 to Girona, allowing Atletico Madrid to jump back up to second with a 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano. The rest of the top six remained the same.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (54), 2. Atlético Madrid (47), 3. Real Madrid (45), 4. Sevilla (37), 5. Getafe (36), 6. Alaves (36)

Scoring leader: 22 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 10 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund rebounded from a midweek loss in the Champions League with a draw at Nurnberg, keeping the separation with rivals Bayern Munich to three points. The Black and Yellow lost American Christian Pulisic to injury in the UCL match against Spurs and could be in doubt for a few more games.
Top six: 1. Dortmund (51), 2. Bayern Munich (48), 3. Monchengladbach (43), 4. RB Leipzig (41), 5. Bayer Leverkusen (36), 6. Wolfsburg (35)

Scoring leader: 14 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 10 - Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Juventus 3-0 Frosinone | Ronaldo and Dybala Help Juventus Beat Frosinone | Serie A www.youtube.com

Cristiano Ronaldo can't stop scoring, adding one more to his season tally in Juve's 3-0 win over Frosinone. Milan picked up a 3-1 win over Atalanta to solidify their place in the top four. Inter Milan and Roma also picked up three points this week.

Top six: 1. Juventus (66), 2. Napoli (53), 3. Inter Milan (46), 4. Milan (42), 5. Roma (41), 6. Atalanta (38)

Scoring leader: 19 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Assists leader: 8 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Marseille made the biggest jump in the standings this week by swapping places with Montpellier and cracking the top four. As for the champs, PSG continues to roll behind the league's top scorer in Mbappé.

Top six: 1. PSG (62), 2. Lille (50), 3. Lyon (46), 4. Marseille (40), 5. Saint-Étienne (40), 6. Montpellier (38)

Scoring leader: 19 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

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

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (57), 2. Ajax (53), 3. Feyenoord (42)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (57), 2. Club Brugge (49), 3. Standard Liège (46)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Porto (54), 2. Benfica (53), 3. Braga (49)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (60), 2. Rangers (52), 3. Aberdeen (47)

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Concacaf Champions League

The 2019 edition of the Concacaf Champions League begins Tuesday night with the 1st leg matches of the quarterfinal stage. Costa Rica's Saprissa and Mexico's Tigres UANL will kick this year's edition simultaneously with Panama's Independiente hosting Toronto FC. The Houston Dynamo will face off in Guatemala against Guastatoya in the 9 p.m. match. Matches will be broadcast in English on Yahoo! Sports.


Major League Soccer

While five MLS teams take part in the Champions League, the rest continue their preparations ahead of the league's opening weekend in two weeks. FC Cincinatti will be the new expansion team that joins the league in 2019.

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Monterrey (17), 2. Tigres UANL (16), 3. Leon (14), 4. Chivas Guadalajara (14), 5. Necaxa (11), 6. Santos (11), 7. Pachuca (11), 8. Club Tijuana (10)

Scoring leader: 7 - Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey)

Assists leader: 5 - Angel Mena (Cruz Azul)

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Copa Libertadores

Third round - first leg matchups:

  • Melgar vs. Caracas FC
  • Talleres Cordoba vs. Palestino
  • Defensor Sporting vs. Atletico Mineiro
  • Libertad vs. Atletico Nacional

Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (45), 2. Defensa y Justicia (45), 3. Boca Juniors (35), 4. Atletico Tucuman (32)

Scoring leader: 15 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 7 - Walter Montillo (Tigre)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Feb. 19

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich (TNT/Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Lyon vs. Barcelona (Unimas/Univision Deportes)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] CD Guastatoya vs. Houston Dynamo (Yahoo! Sports/Univision Deportes)

Wednesday, Feb. 20

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus (TNT/UniMas/Univision Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Schalke 04 vs. Man City (B/R Live/Galavision)

Thursday, Feb. 21

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Arsenal vs. BATE (B/R Live/Galavision)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Valencia vs. Celtic (B/R Live/Univision Deportes)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Villarreal vs. Sporting CP (B/R Live/UniMas)

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

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Inter Milan vs. Rapid Vienna (B/R Live/Galavision)

Friday, Feb. 22

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Werder Bremen vs. VfB Stuttgart (FS2)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Fulham (NBC Sports)

Saturday, Feb. 23

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Hertha BSC Berlin (FS2)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mönchengladbach vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Univision Deportes)

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

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Sevilla vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

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

Sunday, Feb. 24

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

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

10:30 a.m. - [Carabao Cup FInal] Chelsea vs. Manchester City (ESPN+)

11:00 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (FS2)

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

Dash 1, Reign FC 1

5 kicks from Dash vs. Reign FC

Dash forward Nichelle Prince (center) scored in the 10th minute against Reign FC. (Photo by Jose Castenanos)

The Houston Dash opened their sixth professional season in the National Women's Soccer League with a 1-1 home draw against Regin FC on Sunday. Canadian National Team forward Nichelle Prince scored the lone goal for the Dash while U.S. National Team Goalkeeper Jane Campbell saved a penalty attempt in stoppage time.

Here are five observations from the win:

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dash vs. Reign FC | April 14, 2019 www.youtube.com

1) Welcome to the Clarkson era

Head Coach James Clarkson made his debut as a manager in the women's game. He was named the third head coach in club history after being announced to the role last December. Sunday was the first real test for the team, being that it was their first competitive match and one against a professional team.

The Dash had some good chances, enough to win this match at least, and have only themselves to blame for the dropped points. True, Reign FC is a more seasoned team with a two-time NWSL Championship winning coach but they were beatable on the day. Given that players are still adjusting to a new coaching staff, Clarkson gets a pass here for the result. Going forward, however, these are the types of games that have to be won if the club wants to even entertain qualifying to their first NWSL playoffs.

2) Prince pounces on mistake

Canadian forward Nichelle Prince won the battle against Reign defender Theresa Nielsen, dispossessing her to score in the 10th minute. The 24-year-old from Ajax, Ontario, Canada was a nuisance for the defense for a large part of the game and provided a good outlet for the attack in transition. The ability to create her own opportunity turned into the team's only goal on the day. She will be a player to keep an eye on not only for the Dash but for Canada at this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.

3) Campbell saves the day

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell had a fairly solid day in goal. Other than the deflected shot that put the Reign on the scoreboard in the 58th minute, there wasn't much that she couldn't handle. In the waning minutes of the match, however, she was careless with a back pass that ended in her conceding a stoppage time penalty (she apologized for the play after the match). In the end, she stayed a hero by blocking the penalty and securing the point for the home team.

4) Brooks plays in 100th NWSL match

Only 21 players had featured in 100 NWSL matches until Sunday. Amber Brooks became the 22nd player to reach that milestone, coincidentally her jersey number is no. 22. The club's Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 has become one of the key figures on the team since her arrival in 2016. Another coincidence was that she reached the accomplishment against Reign FC, the team she played for before coming to Houston. Brooks continues to add to her resume which also includes playing in Europe with FC Bayern Munich and in Australia, this past offseason, with Adelaide United.

5) Lowest turnout for a home opener

If you've read my "5 Kicks" after Houston Dynamo games, you've read plenty about the dwindling attendance at the matches for the men. Unfortunately, due to the Dash getting a fraction of the Dynamo's resources despite sharing the same ownership group, it's an even more uphill battle on the women's side. The match hardly had any marketing dollars behind it and the attendance figures reflect that.

2014 - 8,097 on April 12 vs. Portland Thorns (L 0-1)

2015 - 6,012 on April 10 vs. Washington Spirit (W 2-0)

2016 - 7,440 on April 16 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 3-1)

2017 - 4,484 on April 15 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 2-0)

2018 - 5,846 on March 25 vs. Chicago Red Stars (T 1-1)

2019 - 4,335 on April 14 vs. Reign FC (T 1-1)

The drop in the home opener comes a year after Dynamo/Dash Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer David Brady shared a three-year attendance plan with the Houston Business Journal - one that aims for the club to double their numbers by next season.

Dash player of the game: Nichelle Prince

The Dash don't come away with a point, or have a chance at three, if not for Prince's efforts that put the team on the scoreboard.

Next up:

Saturday, April 20th at Sky Blue FC (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

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