THE SOCCER REPORT

De Gea posts 11 saves in Manchester United win; Dynamo mulling offer for Alberth Elis

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea came up big in the 1-0 win over Tottenham. (Credit: adidas)

European leagues are past the halfway of their seasons, meaning the stakes are just getting higher. Liverpool, Barcelona and Dortmund all have good leads but not good enough while PSG and Juventus look to cruise in their domestic leagues.

In Houston, the stakes are also being raised as the city looks to secure host city stature for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The Houston Sports Authority appointed John Arnold as chairman of the bid committee last Friday, which you can read about here.

For everything else, here is the latest in the soccer world:

English Premier League

Every goal from Premier League Matchweek 22 | NBC Sports www.youtube.com

Liverpool may be sitting at the top of the table with a four-point lead but they know taking the foot off the pedal now would spell trouble. The leaders kept marching forward with a 1-0 win over Brighton thanks to a 50th minute penalty by their goalscorer, Mohamed Salah. Second place Manchester City took care of their own business with a 3-0 win over Wolves to keep pace while Chelsea put away Newcastle with a 2-1 victory to keep the gap between the top four. Arsenal were not so lucky, losing 1-0 against London rivals West Ham United. Everton, Watford, Burnley and Southampton also picked up three points this weekend.

The match circled on everybody's calendar, however, was the heavyweight bout between third place Tottenham and sixth place Manchester United. Heavyweight may be a term people may have been reserved about before the match due to United's fall from grace in recent title races but caretaker Ole Gunnar Solskjær has everyone believing after leading the Reds to five consecutive wins, across all competitons, since the firing of former manager Jose Mourinho. The former United goalscorer has reinvigorated the current squad but many wondered how much of their run has been due to the quality of their opponents. Well, there's nothing to scoff about a 1-0 win over a top four club like Tottenham. Thanks to a standout 11 saves from David De Gea and a 44th minute goal by Marcus Rashford, United are believing again and now stand only six points out of a Champions League spot.

The elation by Houston Manchester United supporters was no different as the beer flowed and the chants were well heard in EaDo.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (57), 2. Manchester City (53), 3. Tottenham (48), 4. Chelsea (47), 5. Arsenal (41), 6. Manchester United (41)

Scoring leader: 14 - Harry Kane (Tottenham) / Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) / Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Earlier this season, it seemed that others were primed to knock down the champion Barcelona or at least the hope was alive and well. That hope has since disseminated as one of the best in the world, and considered by some the best ever, took care of that. Lionel Messi stands alone at the top of both the individual standings in scoring and assists and reached another record by becoming the first player to score 400 goals in one of the major European leagues. Despite the two major Madrid clubs picking up wins this weekend, it looks very much like it will be Barcelona's year in La Liga.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (43), 2. Atlético Madrid (38), 3. Sevilla (33), 4. Real Madrid (33), 5. Alavés (32), 6. Getafe (28)

Scoring leader: 17 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 10 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)


German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Dortmund (42), 2. Bayern Munich (36), 3. Monchengladbach (33), 4. RB Leipzig (31), 5. Wolfsburg (28), 6. Eintracht Frankfurt (27)

Scoring leader: 12 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt) / Paco Alcacer (Dortmund)

Assists leader: 8 - Sébastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (53), 2. Napoli (44), 3. Inter Milan (39), 4. Lazio (32), 5. Milan (31), 6. Roma (30)

Scoring leader: 14 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

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

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (50), 2. Lille (37), 3. Lyon (33), 4. Saint-Étienne (33), 5. Montpellier (31), 6. Strasbourg (29)
Scoring leader: 14 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 7 - Memphis Depay (Lyon) / Nicolas Pépé (Lille)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (48), 2. Ajax (46), 3. Feyenoord (36)

Scoring leader: 14 - Luuk de Jong (PSV)

Assists leader: 8 - Arbër Zeneli (Heerenveen) / Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (48), 2. Club Brugge (41), 3. Antwerp (38)

Scoring leader: 15 - Mbwana Samatta (Genk)

Assists leader:12 - Hans Vanaken (Brugge)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Porto (43), 2. Benfica (38), 3. Braga (37)

Scoring leader: 12 - Dyego Sousa (Braga)

Assists leader: 7 - Pizzi (Benfica)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (42), 2. Rangers (42), 3. Kilmarnock (41)

Scoring leader: 12 - Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)

Assists leader: 8 - James Tavernier (Rangers)

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Major League Soccer

The MLS college draft, known as the SuperDraft, took place last week with some clubs placing more priority on the event than others. Clubs are making their final preparations as most would have started their preseason training by this time next week. The Houston Dynamo, along with their five counterparts who will take place in the Concacaf Champions League, begin their preseason training this week.

The news around the Dynamo, however, has most loudly been about the potential departure of one of their most important players in 22-year-old forward Alberth Elis. The Honduran has been linked with a reported $6 million offer to Turkish club Fenerbahçe but the Dynamo don't seem willing to part with one of their young attackers - at least not for that price. The interest seems real, however, and this situation may drag out until the end of the European transfer window later this month. The Turkish club is currently second to last in the league standings and is looking to affordable options to offset their debt situation. Fenerbace do have a Houston tie as Chairman Ali Koç is a Rice University alumnus.

Elis arrived from vacation on Sunday afternoon and has reported with the team for preseason. In an interview I did with the player, he stated he is waiting for the club to make a decision on his future and is ready for whatever that decision may be.

Alberth Elis back in Houston for preseason with the Dynamo www.youtube.com


Liga MX

Monterrey vs. Club Leon | 2018-19 Liga MX Highlights www.youtube.com

Week two in the Clausura 2019 season took place over the weekend in Mexico, with some of the usual suspects immediately surging to the top. Historical club Chivas of Guadalajara, who have seen a downturn during recent seasons are off with two straight wins but time will tell how this season ends. As a famous Mexican song goes, "it's not about arriving first but knowing how to arrive."

Top eight: 1. Toluca FC (6), 2. Chivas Guadalajara (6), 3. Lobos BUAP (6), 4. Monterrey (4), 5. Tigres UANL (4), 6. Club America (3), 7. Necaxa (3), 8. Atlas (3)

Scoring leader: 3 - Enrique Triverio (Toluca)

Assists leader: 3 - Carlos Rodríguez (Monterrey)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, Jan. 16

11:30 a.m. - [Italian Supercoppa] Juventus vs. Milan (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

2:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Leganes vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

Thursday, Jan. 17

12:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Real Sociedad vs. Real Betis (beIN Sports)

2:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Barcelona vs. Levante (beIN Sports)

Friday, Jan. 18

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. Bayern Munich (FS1)

1:45 p.m. - [Scottish Cup] Cowdenbeath vs. Rangers (ESPN+)

Saturday, Jan. 19

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Wolves vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

8:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Roma vs. Torino (ESPNews)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monchengladbach (FS1)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Man United vs. Brighton (CNBC)

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

Sunday, Jan. 20

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Manchester City (CNBC)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Fulham vs. Tottenham (NBC)

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For some reason this week really got to me. All the Antonio Brown stuff, Kevin Durant scolding the media, Justin Verlander whining about millionaire players not becoming billionaires, Odell posting a cryptic tweet because he might be traded.

There's so much drama now. Maybe there was in the past too but it was behind the scenes. We didn't hear about every player's every thought. I liked not knowing this much about our athletes.

Sometimes it was misleading not knowing them better. I didn't root for OJ because I was a Walter Payton guy but I admired what OJ did right up until he started killing people. Same goes for Rae Carruth. But those are extreme examples.

Today we know way too much about our athletes. Way too much. Back in the day I wouldn't have known that Josh Hader and Josh Allen were little racists. I'd be fine not knowing that.

I'd be good not knowing that Laremy Tunsil is a weed enthusiast and ready for nuclear holocaust at the same time.

I'd be better off not knowing that Kevin Durant has Twitter burner accounts. I just have a hard time understanding why one of the great basketball players of our time cares what some 18-year old thinks of him.

I didn't need to know every detail about the KD - Russell Westbrook cat fight. It just wasn't necessary.

I'd rather not hear about how LeBron's pee pee hurt because Phil Jackson used the word posse.

How Antonio Brown and Big Ben have hissy fits.

How the Steelers offensive line was so mad at LeVeon that they started talking about his money. That was a big no-no back in the day. You never talked about another man's money.

Of course none of the old rules apply today. Used to be, guys retired at the end of the season. Now they retire at halftime of the second game.

Used to be you didn't record your teammate admitting how he cheated on his girl and then make it public. That would have gotten you killed not just traded.

Used to be you respected the office of the commissioner of the league. Kennisaw Mountain Landis, Pete Rozelle and David Stern were icons. Now coaches and players wear Roger Goodell clown shirts.

Do we really need to know which player is gay and which isn't?

Who everyone is dating?

Do we need a red carpet at all-star games?

Do we need 9-hour pregame shows before the Super Bowl?

Are we really giving a penalty for horns down now? Are we that soft?

And do we really think that if we call it the Red River Shootout that we're promoting violence? Really?

Do we ever need to hear one more Lavar Ball thought again? For God's sake the man's an idiot. Why do we give him a national platform?

Now don't get me wrong. There is some good that comes from today's tell-all athlete. When Kobe threw Shaq under the bus after Kobe was caught cheating in Colorado, Shaq won the title with the Heat and came up with one of the great rap lines of all time. "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes." Classic.

I've also kind of enjoyed the off-season back and forth between Alex Bregman and Trevor (Tyler) Bauer. They don't like each other. Can't wait until they face each other for the first time this year. But I'm sure the media will make such a big deal out of it that they'll hug before the game and have a press conference about how much they respect each other. The media ruins everything.

Back in the day Bregman would have taken a 96 mile an hour fastball to the back and the benches would clear and we'd have a good old fashioned brouhaha. That's how men settled stuff back then. Sure you might throw it a little high and maybe kill him but that's the risk you took. That's what men did.

What's more fun, a press conference or a bench clearing brawl? Not even close.

I know I must sound like the "get off my lawn guy." Maybe I am. I don't shave with a Gillette razor. I use Schick.

Now give me back my sports without all this drama.

And get off my lawn.

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