THE SOCCER REPORT

Juventus, PSG clinch league titles; MLS announces expansion to 30 teams

Minnesota United FC, who debuted their new stadium earlier this month, were one of the latest MLS expansion teams. (Credit: Minnesota United)

Every week brings us closer to the climax of leagues around the world as we also make our way to a summer full of interesting international story lines. Scroll down to catch up on the week in soccer with a watch list of important matches awaiting you at the end.

Top stories:

  • Liverpool/Egypt forward Mohamed Salah and Orlando Pride/USA forward Alex Morgan named to TIME's 100 Most Influential list
  • UEFA Champions League semifinals: Spurs vs. Ajax; Liverpool vs. Barcelona
  • UEFA Europa League semifinals: Arsenal vs. Valencia; Chelsea vs. Frankfurt
  • Concacaf Champions League finals begins Tuesday
  • Copa Libertadores group stage resumes on Tuesday
  • MLS announces expansion to 30 teams; Academies seek solidarity payments

UEFA Champions League

Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United and Porto were the latest casualties after failing to advance to the Champions League semifinals. Cristiano Ronaldo's Juve were taken down at home by young Ajax while both Manchester clubs failed to get past Barcelona and Tottenham. Liverpool, who carried a 2-0 first leg win ended up demolishing Porto in Portugal 4-1 for a 6-1 aggregate score. The closest encounter was between Manchester City and Tottenham, a back and forth affair that was decided by video replay in stoppage time.


UEFA Europa League

The race also continues in Europe's secondary competition to crown a champions, and award with it the coveted Champions League spot for next season. With Arsenal and Chelsea not assured a top four spot in the Premier League, this trophy could serve as insurance.


English Premier League

The race for the title continues between Liverpool and Manchester City while the last two spots for the Champions League are being disputed by four teams.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (88), 2. Manchester City (86), 3. Tottenham (67), 4. Chelsea (67), 5. Arsenal (66), 6. Manchester United (64)

Scoring leader: 19 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) / Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) / Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Assists leader: 13 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (77), 2. Atlético Madrid (68), 3. Real Madrid (64), 4. Getafe (54), 5. Valencia (52), 6. Sevilla (52)

Scoring leader: 33 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 13 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (70), 2. Dortmund (69), 3. RB Leipzig (61), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (53), 5. Monchengladbach (51), 6. Hoffenheim (50)

Scoring leader: 21 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 13 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

After weeks of prolonging the inevitable, Juventus clinched their 8th straight Italian league title and 37th over all with 2-1 home win over Fiorentina. In the process, Cristiano Ronaldo became achieved a feat made by no other player in becoming the first to win the league in England, Spain and Italy.


Top six: 1. (C) - Juventus (87), 2. Napoli (67), 3. Inter Milan (61), 4. Milan (56), 5. Atalanta (56), 6. Roma (55)

Scoring leader: 22 - Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 10 - Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

PSG finally crowned themselves champions of this season after being denied for three weeks straight. Mbappe delivered a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Monaco as Neymar made his first appearance in return from injury. It is PSG's 8th Ligue 1 title and 6th out of the last seven seasons.

Top six: 1. (C) - PSG (84), 2. Lille (65), 3. Lyon (59), 4. Saint-Étienne (56), 5. Marseille (54), 6. Montpellier (51)

Scoring leader: 30 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 12 - Teji Savanier (Nimes)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. Ajax (77), 2. PSV Eindhoven (77), 3. Feyenoord (59)

Belgian First Division A

Championship Round: 1. Genk (44), 2. Club Brugge (38), 3. Antwerp (35), 4. Standard Liege (33), 5. Anderlecht (27), 6. Gent (26)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (75), 2. Porto (75), 3. Sporting CP (67)

Scottish Premier League

Championship: 1. Celtic (78), 2. Rangers (69), 3. Aberdeen(58)

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Concacaf Champions League

The champion of the region awaits to be crowned in a battle of crosstown rivals, and the region's two most expensive teams when Tigres UANL and Monterrey will face off in a home-and-home series over the next two weeks.

Major League Soccer

East top seven: 1. D.C. United (14), 2. Toronto (13), 3. Philadelphia (13), 4. Columbus (13), 5. Orlando (11), 6. Montreal (11), 7. Chicago (9)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (22), 2. LA Galaxy (18), 3. Seattle (16), 4. FC Dallas (16), 5. Houston (13), 6. Minnesota (10), 7. Real Salt Lake (10)

Scoring leader: 10 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 5 - Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto) / Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC) / Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Leon (38), 2. Tigres UANL (33), 3. Monterrey (29), 4. Cruz Azul (26), 5. Necaxa (25), 6. Pachuca (25), 7. Club America (23), 8. Puebla (23)

Scoring leader: 14 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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National Women's Soccer League

Standings: 1. North Carolina Courage (4), 2. Portland Thorns (4), 3. Houston Dash (4), 4. Utah Royals (3), 5. Washington Spirit (3), 6. Chicago Red Stars (2), 7. Seattle Reign (2), 8. Orlando Pride (1), 9. Sky Blue FC (0)

Scoring leader: 3 - Crystal Dunn (North Carolina) / Christine Sinclair (Portland)

Assists leader: 2 - Meghan Klingenberg (Portland)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Apr. 23

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [Eredivisie] Ajax vs. Vitesse (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Hamburg vs. RB Leipzig (ESPNews, ESPN Deportes)

2:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Libertad vs. Gremio (beIN Sports)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Tigres UANL vs. Monterrey (YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes)

Wednesday, Apr. 24

12:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Werder Bremen vs. Bayern Munich (ESPNews, ESPN Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Milan vs. Lazio (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Palestino vs. River Plate (beIN Sports)

Thursday, Apr. 25

1:45 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Atalanta vs. Fiorentina (ESPN+)

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

Friday, Apr. 26

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Augsburg vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (FS2)

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Huddersfield (NBC Sports)

Saturday, Apr. 27

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. West Ham (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Schalke 04 (FS2, UniMas)

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

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Southampton vs. Bournemouth (CNBC)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Newcastle (NBC)

11:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] VfB Stuttgart vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (FS2)

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

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Twitter, Univision)

7:30 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC (KUBE57)

Sunday, Apr. 28

6:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Leicester vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

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

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Budesliga] Nurnberg vs. Bayern Munich (FS2, FOX Deportes)

12:30 p.m. - [MLS] Minnesota United FC vs. D.C. United (FS1)

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

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] Seattle Sounders FC vs. LAFC (ESPN)

5:00 p.m. - [NWSL] Houston Dash vs. North Carolina Courage (YahooSports.com)

Monday, Apr. 29

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Betis vs. Espanyol (beIN Sports)

ELIS INJURED IN COMEBACK WIN

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over D.C. United

Credit Trask Smith/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo withstood Wayne Rooney's D.C. United plus an injury to star player Alberth Elis on their way to their seventh win of the season. El Campo native Memo Rodriguez and off-season signing Thomas McNamara scored in the 67th and 68th minutes, respectively, to lead the club to a comeback victory.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Call it a comeback

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United | May 18, 2019 youtu.be

Both the Dynamo and D.C. United were undefeated this season in matches where they took the lead first. Houston's record was 1-1-2 when giving up the first goal.

On Saturday night, they didn't need to rely on the advantage of opening up the scoreline. Wayne Rooney scored the match's first goal right after the start of the second half before the Dynamo turned on the pressure in attack.

Perhaps the most impressing part of the result was doing it without the wide threats of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto on the field. Instead it was their substitutes, coincidentally, that drove home the victory.

2) Winning without Elis

Alberth Elis took a headbutt to the side of his skull at the start of the match when he and D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum jumped to dispute a ball in the air. Both players were taken out to the sidelines to get checked, Birnbaum had his head taped after bleeding, and were eventually allowed to return.

It would be minutes later that Elis asked for his substitution, which came in the 11th minute, and was subsequently taken to the locker room for a further evaluation. Despite passing the MLS concussion protocol, the Honduran playmaker wasn't well enough to continue the match.

Elis has been the most influential player for the team this season and a win without him will be a confidence booster. The big question now will be how long the team will be without one their most important contributors.

3) Memo leads the way

An inspired Memo Rodriguez was key to the Dynamo overturning the deficit at home, helping the team avoid a three-match winless streak. The homegrown midfielder took the responsibility of providing a spark in attack by creating his own shooting opportunity.

His goal in the 67th minute injected energy into the crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium and into his team. The Dynamo quickly went for another score and got it just a minute later.

With five goals and two assists, Rodriguez is enjoying his best season for the club. He'll likely pass his career high for minutes played in one season during the first half of the following match - eight games sooner than what it took him to reach that mark last year.

4) A win for Maynor

Defender Maynor Figueroa missed Saturday's match due to his father's passing on Wednesday night. The Honduran defender was on the field for the Dynamo against Timbers FC when the news broke in his home country.

The club showed solidarity with the seven-year Premier League veteran by dedicating the match to him in their pregame team photo. Figueroa joined the team in the off-season after three years at rival FC Dallas and has appeared in the majority of the Dynamo starting lineups this year.

Alejandro Fuenmayor took Figueroa's place in Saturday's starting XI and is expected to continue until Figueroa's return. The Dynamo have two league games left before this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, a tournament Figueroa is expected to feature in for Honduras.

5) Rooney draws crowd but no sellout

Manchester United and England National Team Legend Wayne Rooney was in town with D.C. United. His appearance, unfortunately for the Dynamo, did very little for the gate in comparison to the visits of other league draws like LA's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Several Manchester United jerseys were seen in what was announced to be a crowd of 15,811 attendees at the 22,000 capacity stadium. That number is only the third highest crowd seen this year after the opening match and the derby against FC Dallas.

The three-time World Cup veteran and former UEFA Champions League winner held up his end with a goal in the 46th minute and, despite the loss, has helped D.C. to a top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Still, hope is bleak if a player of his stature has that little effect on the overall Houston soccer market - if they even knew he was in town.

Dynamo player of the game: Memo Rodriguez

Next up:

Saturday, May 25 at Minnesota United FC (7:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57) [ESPN+ for U.S. non-Houston markets]

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