Houston Dynamo Defender DaMarcus Beasley speaks with the media following an open scrimmage at BBVA Compass Stadium.
European clubs capped off a busy start to the year and now focus their attention to Thursday's transfer deadline day - the soccer equivalent of the "trade deadline" famous in American sports. For the elite clubs, it will be their last opportunity to reinforce their squads before the UEFA Champions League resumes in mid-February.
As always, scroll down to the bottom of this article for notable matches coming up this week.
English Premier League
Clubs in England took a week from league play to take part in cup action this week. Third place Tottenham's depth was tested this week but could not pass the test, crashing out of both the English Football League Cup (semifinals loss on penalties to Chelsea) and the FA Cup (fourth Round loss to Crystal Palace). With injuries to important players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli, Spurs will be tested in their efforts to stay in the top four.
Premier League action resumes on Tuesday with Newcastle-Manchester City and Liverpool-Leicester City as top matchups.
Top six: 1. Liverpool (60), 2. Manchester City (56), 3. Tottenham (51), 4. Chelsea (47), 5. Arsenal (44), 6. Manchester United (44)
Scoring leader: 16 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)
Spain's La Liga
Highlights Girona FC vs FC Barcelona (0-2)youtu.be
The top four in Spain march on with three points a piece but the big question will be if Barcelona can even slip in what's left of the season, at least enough to make the title race interesting. The defending champions bolstered their squad with the addition of forward Kevin-Prince Boateng and made bigger headlines with the €75 million purchase of 21-year-old Frenkie de Jong (who won't join the team until the summer). Atletico Madrid, on their end, signed former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata on a loan from Chelsea in an attempt to boost their attack and title aspirations.
By the way, Messi continues to dominate the league in goals and assists.
Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (49), 2. Atlético Madrid (44), 3. Real Madrid (39), 4. Sevilla (36), 5. Alavés (32), 6. Getafe (31)
Scoring leader: 19 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Assists leader: 10 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Two former MLS prodigies made their debuts in the Bundesliga. Canada's 18-year-old starlet Alphonso Davies got about 15 minutes of play time in Bayern Munich's 4-1 win over Stuttgart while U.S. Men's National Team 19-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams was named a starter and went full ninety in RB Leipzig's 4-0 win at Fortuna. What about Christian Pulisic? He had the day off, watching from the bench as leaders Dortmund handled Hannover 96 with a 5-1 home win.
Top six: 1. Dortmund (48), 2. Bayern Munich (42), 3. Monchengladbach (39), 4. RB Leipzig (34), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (31), 6. Hoffenheim (28)
Scoring leader: 13 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Assists leader: 9 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund / Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Italian Serie A
Top six: 1. Juventus (59), 2. Napoli (48), 3. Inter Milan (40), 4. Milan (35), 5. Roma (34), 6. Sampdoria (33)
Scoring leader: 16 - Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)
Assists leader: 8 - Suso (A.C. Milan)
French Ligue 1
Top six: 1. PSG (56), 2. Lille (43), 3. Lyon (40), 4. Saint-Étienne (36), 5. Strasbourg (35), 6. Montpellier (35)
Scoring leader: 18 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)
Assists leader: 8 - Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Memphis Depay (Lyon)
Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (52), 2. Ajax (47), 3. Feyenoord (39)
Scoring leader: 15 - Luuk de Jong (PSV)
Assists leader: 10 - Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord)
Belgian First Division A
Top three: 1. Genk (51), 2. Club Brugge (44), 3. Antwerp (42)
Scoring leader: 16 - Mbwana Samatta (Genk)
Assists leader: 12 - Hans Vanaken (Brugge)
Portuguese Primeira Liga
Top three: 1. Porto (46), 2. Benfica (41), 3. Braga (40)Scoring leader: 12 - Dyego Sousa (Braga)
Assists leader: 7 - Pizzi (Benfica)
Scottish Premier League
Top three: 1. Celtic (48), 2. Rangers (45), 3. Kilmarnock (45)
Scoring leader: 32 - Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
Assists leader: 8 - James Tavernier (Rangers)
Major League Soccer
Dynamo preseason begins with high expectations | The SLICEyoutu.be
The Dynamo continued their preseason with an open scrimmage against their farm team RGVFC on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. The team will continue their preparations ahead of their annual trip to Tucson, Arizona for MLS preseason friendlies. The Dynamo return to action on February 19 in their Concacaf Champions League bout at Guatemalan side Guastatoya.
Monterrey vs. America | 2018-19 Liga MX Highlightsyoutu.be
Top eight: 1. Monterrey (10), 2. Chivas Guadalajara (9), 3. Tigres UANL (7), 4. Atlas (7), 5. Necaxa (7), 6. Cruz Azul (7), 7. Santos Laguna (7), 8. Toluca FC (6)
Scoring leader: 4 - Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) / Leonardo Ramos (Lobos BUAP)
Assists leader: 4 - Carlos Rodríguez (Monterrey)
U.S. Men's National Team
MNT vs. Panama: Highlights - Jan. 27, 2019www.youtube.com
The U.S Men officially kicked off their road to Qatar 2022 with their first match under new Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. With seven debutants, the U.S. handled Panama with a 3-0 win in Glendale, Arizona. The roster featured off-season MLS players since the European based players were unable to participate in January camp due to FIFA restrictions.
The USMNT return to action in March during a FIFA International window - meaning European club players are eligible to participate - with one of their matches to be played on March 26 at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium.
OFFICIAL: We’re excited to welcome the @ussoccer_mnt on March 26 when they host 🇨🇱! Tickets go on sale to the gener… https://t.co/OjRT3WkcNU— BBVA Compass Stadium (@BBVA Compass Stadium) 1548351011.0
U.S. Women's National Team
WNT vs. Spain: Highlights - Jan. 22, 2019www.youtube.com
The U.S. Women continued their preparations for this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup with a 1-0 win at Spain to cap off a two-match tour of Europe. The Women will next be in action in one month with matches against Japan, England and Brazil in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.
Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):
Tuesday, Jan. 29
8:00 a.m. - [AFC Asian Cup] Qatar vs. United Arab Emirates (DAZN)
1:00 p.m. - [Portuguese League] Benfica vs. Boavista (GolTV)
1:45 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Milan vs. Napoli (ESPN+)
2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Burnley (NBC Sports)
Wednesday, Jan. 30
10:30 a.m. - [Coppa Italia] Fiorentina vs. Roma (ESPN+)
1:45 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Atalanta vs. Juventus (ESPN+)
1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Bournemouth vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)
1:45 p.m. - [Scottish Cup] Cowdenbeath vs. Rangers (ESPN+)
2:30 p.m. - [Copa Del Rey] FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla (beIN SPORTS)
6:00 p.m. - [Argentine Superliga] Godoy Cruz vs. River Plate (Fanatiz)
Thursday, Jan. 31
2:00 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Inter Milan vs. Lazio (ESPN+)
2:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Girona vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)
6:00 p.m. - [Argentine Superliga] San Martin vs. Boca Juniors (Fanatiz)
Friday, Feb. 1
1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hannover 96 vs. RB Leipzig (FS2/FOX Deportes)
Saturday, Feb. 2
6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Dortmund (FS1/FOX Deportes)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich (FS2/Univision Deportes)
9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town (NBC Sports)
11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)
11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff City vs. Bournemouth (NBC)
1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Juventus vs. Parma (ESPN+)
1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Celta vs. Sevilla (beIN Sports)
2:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] USA vs. Costa Rica (FOX/UniMás/Univision Deportes)
Sunday, Feb. 3
8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Leicester City vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)
9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Betis vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)
10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)
11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Inter Milan vs. Bologna (ESPNews/ESPN Deportes)
1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Alaves (beIN Sports)
Monday, Feb. 4
2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.