THE SOCCER REPORT

Liverpool win sixth Champions League; summer of soccer begins

Courtesy adidas

Liverpool F.C. are back at the top of European football after winning their sixth Champions League, standing alone as the third on the list behind A.C. Milan's nine and Real Madrid's 13 UCL trophies. Now the world moves on to international soccer with the upcoming summer that features World Cup qualifiers, the UEFA Nations League, Euro 2020 qualifiers, the Concacaf Gold Cup, Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Women's World Cup.

UEFA Champions League

Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool: 2019 Champions League Final Recap with Highlights, Goals, and Best Moments www.youtube.com

Liverpool capped off an incredible season with a 2-0 win over fellow Premier League side Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday. A final that wasn't the best watch for the neutral fan saw the Reds pick up an important piece of silverware and the club's first European crown since the 2005 Champions League final.

Jurgen Klopp's men were awarded a penalty in the first minute of the match and never looked back after goalscorer Mo Salah put them in the lead. Despite a rally in the second half by Spurs, Divock Origi would ice the match in the 87th minute.

UEFA Europa League

Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal: 2019 Europa League Final Recap with Highlights, Goals, and Best Moments www.youtube.com

Chelsea were the English side victorious in the other final this past week, one that saw London rivals face off for the secondary European crown. A stalemate in Baku, Azerbaijan for the first half ended with a 4-1 Chelsea rout thanks in part to an Eden Hazard double. The Belgian has been linked to departing the Premier League and joining Spanish side Real Madrid this summer.

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Major League Soccer

East top seven: 1. Philadelphia (28), 2. D.C. United (27), 3. Atlanta (26), 4. NY Red Bulls (24), 5. Montreal (24), 6. NYCFC (20), 7. Toronto (18)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (37), 2. LA Galaxy (28), 3. Seattle (26), 4. Houston (24), 5. FC Dallas (21), 6.Minnesota (21), 7. Real Salt Lake (19)

Scoring leader: 16 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 10 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

National Women's Soccer League

Standings: 1. Washington Spirit (16), 2. Portland Thorns (14), 3. Utah Royals (13), 4. North Carolina Courage (12), 5. Chicago Red Stars (11), 6. Houston Dash (11), 7. Seattle Reign (10), 8. Sky Blue FC (2), 9. Orlando Pride (1)

Scoring leader: 6 - Sam Kerr (Chicago)

Assists leader: 3 - Jaelene Hinkle (North Carolina) / Meghan Klingenberg (Portland) / Yuki Nagasato (Chicago)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, June 4

10:30 a.m. - [FIFA U20 World Cup] France vs. USA (FS2)

Wednesday, June 5

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Portugal vs. Switzerland (ESPN2, Univision Deportes)

6 p.m. - [International Friendly] USA vs. Jamaica (FS1)

6:30 p.m. - [MLS] Montreal vs. Seattle (ESPN+)

7:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] Brazil vs. Qatar (beIN Sports)

Thursday, June 6

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Netherlands vs. England (ESPN2, Univision Deportes)

Friday, June 7

2:00 p.m. - [FIFA Women's World Cup] France vs. South Korea (FS1, Telemundo)

7:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Argentina vs. Nicaragua (beIN Sports)

Saturday, June 8

8:00 a.m. - [FIFA Women's World Cup] Germany vs. China (FS1, Telemundo)

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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