The Soccer Report

Club action halts for international break; Dynamo see playoff hopes end in Seattle

Paul Pogba and Manchester United put a stop to a four-match winless streak with a 3-2 comeback win over Newcastle. Courtesy of Addidas

The second international break following the 2018 FIFA World Cup is upon us and nations continue their work towards Qatar 2022. The week of international competition also signifies a break in most top division club competitions. To recap all the action, here is this week’s soccer report.

English Premier League

Things were started looking bleak for Manchester United after conceding two goals at Newcastle in the first 10 minutes of their match. Despite the circling drama around the Red Devils and Manager Jose Mourinho, United were able to rebound at home to a 3-2 win. Arsenal, who recently signed a $321 million deal to switch from Pumas to adidas next season, defeated London rivals Fulham 5-1 at their place. Chelsea picked up a 3-0 win at Southampton while Tottenham won 1-0 at Cardiff City. Brighton, Wolves, Bournemouth and Everton also picked up three points. A standstill 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City capped off the weekend to set up a three-way tie atop the standings.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (20), 2. Chelsea (20), 3. Liverpool (20), 4. Arsenal (18), 5. Tottenham (18), 6. Bournemouth (16)

Scoring leader: 7 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Assists leader(s): Six players tied with 4 assists

Spain’s La Liga

It’s a new day in La Liga, at least temporarily, as Sevilla has climbed to the top of the mountain with a 2-1 win over Celta de Vigo. The move was helped by Barcelona’s being held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia. Atletico Madrid, third on goal differential, equaled the defending champions on points with a 1-0 win over Real Betis. Real Madrid drop down to fourth and were the talk of the weekend after being upset 1-0 late by Alaves.

Top six: 1. Sevilla (16), 2. Barcelona (15), 3. Atletico Madrid (15), 4. Real Madrid (14), 5. Espanyol (14), 6. Alaves (14)

Scoring leader: 8 - Cristhian Stuani (Girona)

Assists leader(s): Five players tied with 4 assists

German Bundesliga

At least for seven weeks in, Dortmund has taken a big step towards dreaming of a Bundesliga title. The Black and Yellow collected their fifth win of the year and sit at the top with a three point cushion from second place RB Leipzig. The biggest surprise is the fall of defending champion Bayern Munich, who sit in sixth place after a 3-0 loss versus Borussia Monchengladbach. In news related to the U.S. Men’s national team, Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic and Schalke’s Weston McKennie will miss out on the latest international friendlies due to injuries.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (17), 2.  RB Leipzig (14), 3. Monchengladbach  (14), 4. Werder Bremen (14), 5. Hertha Berlin (14), 6. Bayern Munich (13)

Scoring leader: 6 - Paco Alcacer (Dortmund)

Assists leader: 6 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)

Italian Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo scored again in Serie A in a 2-0 Juventus win at Udinese. Second place Napoli is trying to get back into the title race with a 2-0 win over Sassuolo, but remains six points behind Juve. Inter Milan and Lazio both picked up wins to round out the top four in Italy. Other notable clubs include Roma in the top six and A.C. Milan in 10th place.

Top six: 1. Juventus (24), 2. Napoli (18), 3. Inter Milan (16), 4. Lazio (15), 5. Sampdoria (14), 6. Roma (14)

Scoring leader: 8 - Krzysztof Piątek (Genoa)

Assists leader(s): 4 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) / Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

French Ligue 1

Kylian Mbappe scored four goals - a poker - as PSG handed Lyon a 5-nil beatdown in Ligue 1. Lille picked up a 3-1 win over another top five side, St-Etienne, to keep pace in second place. Marseille also collected three points while Montpellier drew 1-1 at Guingamp. Monaco continues to disappoint with a 1-2 loss at Rennes and the 18th place in the table.

Top six: 1. PSG (27), 2. Lille (19), 3. Marseille (16), 4. Montpellier (16), 5. St-Etienne (15), 6. Lyon (14)

Scoring leader: 8 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG), Neymar (PSG)

Assists leader: 5 - Dimitri Payet (Marseille)


Major League Soccer

The Philadelphia Union and expansion club Los Angeles FC were the latest teams to clinch a spot in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Montreal Impact did themselves a big favor by winning 3-0 at Columbus, keeping pace for the last playoff spot in front of surging D.C. United. Speaking of D.C., Wayne Rooney continues to inspire United with a 2-1 win at home against Chicago Fire. Zlatan Ibrahimovic also continues to inspire his own side, LA Galaxy as they tied 1-1 at Sporting Kansas City to keep playoff hopes alive. Portland won 4-1 at Real Salt Lake in two West teams shooting for the playoffs, complicating things for RSL.

The Houston Dynamo joined the list of eliminated teams on Monday night in a 4-1 loss at Seattle Sounders FC. With the result, the Dynamo will miss out on the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons. DaMarcus Beasley scored the only goal for Houston, his first of the year, and what could’ve been his last for the club depending what happens the rest of the year.

East top six: 1. Atlanta United (66), 2. NY Red Bulls (65), 3. NYC FC (53), 4. Philadelphia (50), 5. Columbus (48), 6. Montreal (43).

West top six: 1. FC Dallas (57), 2. Sporting KC (53), 3. LAFC (53), 4. Portland (51), 5. Seattle (50), 6. Real Salt Lake (46).

Scoring leader: 30 - Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Assists leader: 17 - Borek Dockal (Philadelphia Union)

Liga MX

Cruz Azul continues their stay at the top of Mexican soccer with a 2-1 win over Monterrey. Mexico City rivals are not far behind, in second after a 3-2 win at Tigres UANL. Defending champions Santos Laguna are third with a 3-1 win over Atlas. With five matches to go in the race to the Apertura 2018 playoffs, the race heats up with only five points separating 16th place Lobos BUAP from the top eight.

Top eight: 1. Cruz Azul (26), 2. Club America (24), 3. Santos Laguna (24), 4. Pumas UNAM (22), 5. Toluca (22), 6. Toluca (19), 7. Monterrey (20), 8. Tigres UANL (18)

Scoring leader(s): 9 - Julio Furch (Santos Laguna) / André-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)

Assists leader: 6 - Dorlan Pabon (Monterrey)


UEFA Champions League

The second matchday of Europe’s prime competition took place at the start of last week. Top clubs like Barcelona and Juventus begin to solidify their place at the top of their groups while other giants are seeing signs of struggle. PSG picked up an empathic 6-1 win over Red Star Belgrade while Napoli had an impressive 1-0 win vs. Liverpool to take the top of Group C. Bayern Munich had a rare 1-1 draw at home while Manchester United also struggled in a 0-0 draw with Valencia, but the biggest surprise came as defending champion Real Madrid lost 0-1 at CSKA Moscow.

Group A: Dortmund (6), Atletico Madrid (6), Club Brugge (0), Monaco (0)

Group B: Barcelona (6), Inter Milan (6), Tottenham (0), PSV (0)

Group C: Napoli (4), Liverpool (3), PSG (3), Red Star Belgrade (1)

Group D: Porto (4), Schalke 04 (4), Galatasaray (3), Lokomotiv Moscow (0)

Group E: Ajax (4), Bayern Munich (4), Benfica (3), AEK Athens (0)

Group F: Lyon (4), Manchester City (3), Shakhtar Donetsk (2), Hoffenheim (1)

Group G: CSKA Moscow (4), Real Madrid (3), Roma (3), Plzeň (1)

Group H: Juventus (6), Manchester United (4), Valencia (1), Young Boys (0)

UEFA Europa League

As with the Champions League, the teams with more talent begin to distance themselves in Europe’s secondary competition. Premier League sides Arsenal and Chelsea stay undefeated while historic sides like Milan and Rangers also picked up three points. Scottish giant Celtic lost 1-3 at Red Bull Salzburg while Spanish leader Sevilla lost 1-2 at Russian side Krasnodar.

Group A: Bayer Leverkusen (6), FC Zurich (6), Ludogorets (0), AEK Larnaca (0)

Group B: Red Bull Salzburg (6), RB Leipzig (3), Celtic (3), Rosenborg (0)

Group C: Zenit (4), Copenhagen (4), Slavia Praha (3), Bordeaux (0)

Group D: Dinamo Zagreb (6), Fenerbahce (3), Spartak Trnava (3), Anderlecht (0)

Group E: Arsenal (6), Sporting CP (6), Vorskla (0), Qarabag FK (0)

Group F: A.C. Milan (6), Real Betis (4), Olympiacos (1), Dudelange (0)

Group G: Rangers (4), Rapid Wien (3), Villarreal (2), Spartak Moscow (1)

Group H: Eintracht Frankfurt (6), Lazio (3), Marseille (1), Apollon Limassol (1)

Group I: Sarpsborg (3), Genk (3), Besiktas (3), Malmo (3)

Group J: FC Krasnodar (6), Sevilla (3), Standard Liege (3), Akhisar (0)

Group K: Astana (4), Rennes (3), Dynamo Kiev (2), Jablonec (1)

Group L: Chelsea (6), PAOK (3), BATE (3), Videoton (0)

Copa Libertadores

The semi finals are set in the 59th edition the top international competition for South American clubs. In a battle of Argentine powerhouses, River Plate got the better of Independiente in a 3-1 home win - winning the series by the same scoreline after a scoreless draw in the first leg. Brazilian side Gremio defeated Atletico Tucuman 4-0 (6-0 agg.). Palmeiras assured Brazil a second representative in the semis with a 4-0 win (6-0 agg.) over Chilean side Colo-Colo. In the last quarterfinal, Boca Juniors defended their first leg win with a 1-1 draw at Cruzeiro, advancing 3-1 on aggregate.


Tuesday, October 23 - River Plate vs. Gremio (first leg)

Wednesday, October 24 - Boca Juniors vs. Palmeiras (first leg)

Tuesday, October 30 - Gremio vs. River Plate (second leg)

Wednesday, October 31 - Palmeiras vs. Boca Juniors (second leg)


2018 Concacaf Women's Championship

The wait continues to find out who will represent Concacaf (North America, Central America & the Caribbean) at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The two finalists, to be determined on Sunday, will gain automatic berths while the last place will be decided in the third place match on October 17th.

Only the United States women have assured themselves a spot in the semifinals as the three other teams await to be decided in the final group stage matches on Wednesday.

Group A: USA (6), Panama (3), Mexico (3), Trinidad and Tobago (0)

Group B: Canada (6), Costa Rica (3), Jamaica (3), Cuba (0)

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, October 9

8:30 p.m. - [Copa MX - Quarterfinal] Monterrey vs. Queretaro (FOX Deportes)

Wednesday, October 10

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Italy vs. Ukraine (ESPN+)

6:30 p.m. - [Concacaf Women's Championship] USA vs. Trinidad and Tobago (FS2)

Thursday, October 11

1 p.m. - [International Friendly] Iraq vs. Argentina (beIN SPORTS)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Poland vs. Portugal (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Israel vs. Scotland (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Wales vs. Spain (ESPN+)

2 p.m. - [International Friendly] France vs. Iceland (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Russia vs. Sweden (ESPNews)

6:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] United States vs. Colombia (FS1/Univision)

8:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] Mexico vs. Costa Rica (Univision)

Friday, October 12

5:35 a.m. - [International Friendly] Japan vs. Panama

6 a.m. - [International Friendly] South Korea vs. Uruguay

1 p.m. - [International Friendly] Saudi Arabia vs. Brazil (beIN SPORTS)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Croatia vs. England (ESPN2)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Belgium vs. Switzerland (ESPN+)

9 p.m. - [Major League Soccer] LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE57)

Saturday, October 13

8 a.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Slovakia vs. Czech Republic (ESPNews)

11 a.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Norway vs. Slovenia (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Ireland vs. Denmark (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Netherlands vs. Germany (ESPN+)

3:55 p.m. - [Major League Soccer] D.C. United vs. FC Dallas (Univision/Twitter)

Sunday, October 14

11 a.m. - [International Friendly] Scotland vs. Portugal (ESPN+)

11 a.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Russia vs. Turkey (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Poland vs. Italy (ESPN)

4 p.m. / 6 p.m. - [Concacaf Women's Championship] Semifinals (USA match on FS1)

Monday, October 15

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Croatia vs. Jordan (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Iceland vs. Switzerland (ESPN2)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Spain vs. England (ESPN+)

Tuesday, October 16

12:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Brazil vs. Argentina (beIN SPORTS)

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Belgium vs. Netherlands (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Sweden vs. Slovakia (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Ukraine vs. Czech Republic (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] France vs. Germany (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Ireland vs. Wales (ESPN+)

6:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] United States vs. Peru (ESPN2)

8:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] Mexico vs. Chile (Univision)


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Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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