THE SOCCER REPORT

Messi, Rapinoe headline FIFA Football Awards winners; Houston Dash end home schedule on ESPN2

Credit: Adidas

Monday's FIFA Football Awards winners left plenty to talk about, and debate, as Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe were named The BEST players in their category. On the local spotlight, the Houston Dynamo picked up a second win under Interim Manager Davy Arnaud while the Houston Dash prepare to close out the season with a nationally televised home match on Wednesday.

Here is the recap of the previous week followed by a schedule of upcoming matches:

The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019

The 2019 edition of FIFA's annual award ceremony took place Monday night in Milan. The following are the winners of each category:

Men's Player: Lionel Messi
Women's Player: Megan Rapinoe
Men's Coach: Jurgen Klopp
Women's Coach: Jill Ellis
Men's Goalkeeper: Alisson
Women's Goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal
Puskás Award: Daniel Zsori
Fan Award: Silvia Grecco
Fair Play Award: Marcelo Bielsa

Men's World11: Alisson; Matthijs de Ligt, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Virgil van Dijk; Frenkie de Jong, Eden Hazard, Luka Modric; Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi

Women's World11: Sari van Veenendaal; Lucy Bronze, Nilla Fischer, Kelley O'Hara, Wendie Renard; Julie Ertz, Amandine Henry, Rose Lavelle; Marta, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe

Major League Soccer

The race to the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs continues with two weeks left in the regular season. Houston, mathematically still in contention, avoided elimination with a 2-1 comeback win over Orlando City on Saturday night at BBVA Stadium. The Dynamo traveled to Los Angeles on Monday and will play twice this week - Wednesday at LAFC and Sunday at Real Salt Lake.

Sunday's matches will air simultaneously by conference. The matches in the East will air at 4 p.m. CT with the West matches following at 6:30 p.m. CT. FS1 will feature a doubleheader with updates from all matches.

East top seven: 1. x - NYCFC (58), 2. x - Atlanta (54), 3. x - Philadelphia (52), 4. x - D.C. United (48), 5. x - NY Red Bulls (47), 6. x - Toronto (46), 7. New England (41)

West top seven: 1. x - LAFC (65), 2. Seattle (50), 3. Minnesota (49), 4. LA Galaxy (48), 5. Real Salt Lake (47), 6. FC Dallas (45), 7. San Jose (44)

Scoring leader: 29 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 19 - Maxi Morales (NYCFC)

National Women's Soccer League

Standings: 1. s - North Carolina Courage (46), 2. x - Chicago Red Stars (41), 3. x - Portland Thorns (39), 4. Utah Royals (31), 5. Reign FC (31), 6. Washington Spirit (26), 7. Houston Dash (25), 8. Sky Blue FC (19), 9. Orlando Pride (14)

Scoring leader: 18 - Sam Kerr (Chicago)

Assists leader: 8 - Yuki Nagasato (Chicago)

UEFA Champions League

Group Stage - Matchday 1 Standings

    Group A: PSG (3), Club Brugge (1), Galatasaray (1), Real Madrid (0)

    Group B: Bayern Munich (3), Tottenham (1), Olympiacos (1), Red Star Belgrade (0)

    Group C: Dinamo Zagreb (3), Man City (3), Shakhtar Donetsk (0), Atalanta (0)

    Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow (3), Juventus (1), Atletico Madird (1), Bayer Leverkusen (0)

    Group E: Red Bull Salzburg (3), Napoli (3), Liverpool (0), Genk (0)

    Group F: Slavia Prague (1), Inter Milan (1), FC Barcelona (1), Dortmund (1)

    Group G: RB Leipzig (93), Zenit (1), Lyon (1), Benfica (0)

    Group H: Ajax (3), Valencia (3), Chelsea (0), Lille (0)

    English Premier League

    Matchday 6 Results

    • Southampton 1-3 Bournemouth
    • Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham
    • Burnley 2-0 Norwich City
    • Everton 0-2 Sheffield Utd
    • Man City 8-0 Watford
    • Newcastle 0-0 Brighton
    • West Ham 2-0 Man United
    • Crystal Palace 1-1 Wolves
    • Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa
    • Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

    Top six: Liverpool (18), Man City (13), Leicester City (11), Arsenal (11), West Ham (11), Bournemouth (10)

    Scoring leader: 8 - Sergio Aguero (Man City)

    Assists leader: 7 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

    Spanish La Liga

    Matchday 5 Results

    • Osasuna 0-0 Real Betis
    • Villareal 2-0 Valladolid
    • Levante 0-0 Eibar
    • Atletico Madrid 0-0 Celta Vigo
    • Granada 2-0 FC Barcelona
    • Getafe 4-2 Mallorca
    • Espanyol 1-3 Real Sociedad
    • Valencia 1-1 Leganes
    • Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Alaves
    • Sevilla 0-1 Real Madrid

    Top six: Athletic Bilbao (11), Real Madrid (11), Granada (10), Real Sociedad (10), Sevilla (10), Atletico Madrid (10)

    Scoring leader: 5 - Gerard Moreno (Villareal) / Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

    Assists leader: 3 - Ander Capa (Bilbao) / Angel Montoro Sanchez (Granada) / Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)

    German Bundesliga

    Matchday 5 Results

    • Schalke 04 2-1 Mainz
    • Hertha Berlin 2-1 Paderborn
    • Bayern Munich 4-0 Cologne
    • Freiburg 1-1 Augsburg
    • Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Union Berlin
    • Werder Bremen 0-3 RB Leipzig
    • Monchengladbach 2-1 Fortuna
    • Eintracht 2-2
    • Wolfsburg 1-1 Hoffenheim

    Top six: RB Leipzig (13), Bayern Munich (11), Dortmund (10), Freiburg (10), Schalke 04 (10), Monchengladbach (10)

    Scoring leader: 9 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

    Assists leader: 4 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)

    Italian Serie A

    Matchday 4 Results

    • Cagliari 3-1 Genoa
    • Udinese 0-1 Bescia
    • Juventus 2-1 Verona
    • Milan 0-2 Inter
    • Sassuolo 3-0 SPAL
    • Sampdoria 1-0 Torino
    • Lecce 1-4 Napoli
    • Bolognia 1-2 Roma
    • Atalanta 2-2 Fiorentina
    • Lazio 2-0 Parma

    Top six: Inter Milan (12), Juventus (10), Napoli (9), Roma (8), Lazio (7), Atalanta (7)

    Scoring leader: 5 - Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo)

    Assists leader: 4 - Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)

    French Ligue 1

    Matchday 6 Results

    • Strasbourg 2-1 Nantes
    • Marseille 1-1 Montpellier
    • Nice 2-1 Dijon
    • Bordeaux 2-2 Brest
    • Reims 0-0 Monaco
    • Metz 1-2 Amiens
    • Nimes 1-0 Toulouse
    • Rennes 1-1 Lille
    • Angers 4-1 St-Etienne
    • Lyon 0-1 PSG

    Top six: PSG (15), Angers (12), Nice (12), Rennes (11), Marseille (11), Lille (910)

    Scoring leader: 5 - Moussa Dembele (Lyon) / Victor Osimhen (Lille)

    Assists leader: 3 - Four players tied

    Netherlands Eredivisie

    Matchday 7 - Top Results

    • Twente 2-3 Heracles
    • Vitesse 4-2 Fortuna Sittard
    • FC Emmen 3-3 Feyenoord
    • Den Haag 0-1 AZ Alkmaar
    • PSV 1-1 Ajax

    Top four: Ajax (14), PSV (14), Vitesse (14), AZ Alkmaar (13)

    Scoring leader: 7 - Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven)

    Assists leader: 6 - Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

    Portuguese Liga Nos

    Matchday 6 - Top Results

    • Belenenses 0-2 Rio Ave
    • Moreirense 1-2 Benfica
    • Porto 2-0 Santa Clara
    • Sporting 1-2 Famalicao

    Top four: Famalicao(16), Benfica (15), Porto (15), Rio Ave (10)

    Scoring leader: 6 - Pizzi (Benfica) / Ze Luis (Porto)

    Assists leader: 4 - Bruno Fernandes (Sporting)

    Scottish Premiership

    Matchday 5 - Top Results

    • Motherwell 1-2 Ross County
    • Livingston 0-2 Aberdeen
    • St. Johnstone 0-4 Rangers
    • Celtic 3-1 Kilmarnock

    Top four: Celtic (18), Rangers (15), Aberdeen (11), Motherwell (10)

    Scoring leader: 5 - Jermain Defoe (Rangers) / Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) / Ryan Christie (Celtic)

    Assists leader: 4 - James Forrest (Celtic)

    Mexican Liga MX

    Matchday 10 Results

    • Atlas 0-1 Toluca
    • Monarcas 1-0 Chivas Guadalajara
    • Necaxa 2-4 Leon
    • Atletico San Luis 2-3 Santos Laguna
    • Monterrey 3-2 Puebla
    • Pachuca 4-1 Xolos Tijuana
    • Club America 2-2 Queretaro
    • Pumas UNAM 1-1 Cruz Azul
    • CD Juarez 2-0 Veracruz

    Top Eight: 1. Santos Laguna (20), 2. Leon (18), 3. Queretaro (18), 4. Necaxa (17), 5. Club America (17), 6. Monarcas (16), 7. Monterrey (15), 8. Tigres UANL (14)

    Scoring leader: 8 - Julio Furch (Santos)

    Assists leader: 4 - Four players tied

    Liga MX clubs Tigres UANL and Santos will face off in a club friendly in Houston during the October FIFA International window. Tickets on sale at BBVAStadium.com

    Argentina Superliga

    Matchday 7 Results

    • Union 0-0 Rosario Central
    • Argentinos Juniors 3-1 Cordoba
    • Estudiantes 1-0 Patronato
    • Defensa y Justicia 0-1 Huracan
    • San Lorenzo 0-2 Boca Juniors
    • Atletico Tucuman 0-1 Independiente
    • Newell's 2-0 Aldosivi
    • Godoy Cruz 0-2 Banfield
    • Lanus 3-2 Colon
    • Racing Club 2-1 Arsenal
    • River Plate 1-2 Velez
    • Talleres Cordoba 2-1 Gimnasia

    Top four: Boca (17), Talleres (16), Argentinos Juniors (15), Lanus (14)

    Scoring leader: 4 - Nicolas Dominguez (Velez)

    Assists leader: 2 - Several players tied

    Soccer on the radio:

    Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis airs every Tuesday 7-9 p.m. on KFNC 97.5 FM - ESPN Houston. This week's guests include Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis and former U.S. Women's National Team player and national broadcaster Aly Wagner.

    TV listings (All Times CT):

    Tuesday, September 24

    12:00 p.m. - [Serie A] Hellas Verona vs. Udinese (ESPN+)

    1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Arsenal vs. Nottingham Forest (ESPN+)

    1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Colchester vs. Spurs (ESPN+)

    1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Preston vs. Man City (ESPN+)

    2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Villarreal (beIN Sports)

    2:00 p.m. - [Serie A] Brescia vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

    Wednesday, September 25

    11:30 a.m. - [Eredivisie] PSV vs. Groningen (ESPN+)

    12:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Mallorca vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

    12:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Roma vs. Atalanta (beIN Sports)

    1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Chelsea vs. Grimsby (ESPN+)

    1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] MK Dons vs. Liverpool (ESPN+)

    2:00 p.m. - [English League Cup] Man United vs. Rochdale (ESPN+)

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

    2:00 p.m. - [Serie A] Inter Milan vs. Lazio (ESPN+)

    7:30 p.m. - [NWSL] Houston Dash vs. Washington Spirit (ESPN2)

    9:30 p.m. - [MLS] LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE 57)

    Saturday, September 28

    6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Sheffield United vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports, Universo)

    6:30 a.m. - [Scottish Premiership] Hibernian vs. Celtic (B/R Live)

    8:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Juventus vs. SPAL (ESPN+)

    8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Paderborn vs. Bayern Munich (FS2, TUDN)

    9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Brighton (NBC Sports, Universo)

    9:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Getafe vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

    10:30 a.m. - [Ligue 1] Bordeaux vs. PSG (beIN Sports)

    11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Sampdoria vs. Inter (ESPN+)

    11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Manchester City (NBC)

    11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Dortmund vs. Bremen (FS2)

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

    6:00 p.m. - [Superliga Argentina] Boca Juniors vs. Newell's Old Boys (Fanatiz)

    7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monterrey vs. Tigres UANL (FOX Deportes)

    9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club America vs. Guadalajara (Univision, TUDN)

    Sunday, September 29

    8:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Udinese vs. Bologna (ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes)

    10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Leicester vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports, Telemundo)

    9:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Getafe vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

    11:00 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Cologne vs. Hertha Berlin (FS2)

    1:45 p.m. - [Serie A] Milan vs. Fiorentina (ESPN+)

    2:00 p.m. - [Primeira Liga] Rio Ave vs. Porto (GolTV)

    4:00 p.m. - [MLS] NY Red Bulls vs. D.C. United - with Eastern Conf updates (FS1)

    6:30 p.m. - [MLS] Minnesota vs. LAFC - with Western Conf updates (FS1)

    Monday, September 30

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

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    What do the numbers say about him? Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Carlos Correa endeared himself in the heart of Astros fans during his 2020 postseason run. He talked the talk off the field, and he walked the walk on the field. Correa slashed .362/.455/.766 in the postseason, hitting more home runs in 13 postseason games than he did in 58 regular season games. His performance has sparked discussions about whether or not the Astros should seek an extension with him this offseason.

    Aside from the gaudy postseason numbers, he asserted himself as a team leader. The images and stories of Correa talking to Framber Valdez on the mound, telling Dusty Baker he was going to hit the walk off, and saying this is the most fun he's ever had playing baseball are fresh in everyone's minds.

    However, that's just thirteen games out of a 667 game career (counting the postseason). The postseason games are the most important, and Correa seems to show up when the lights shine brightest, but the Astros have to assemble a team good enough to play under the bright lights for Correa to get that moment to shine. What do the numbers say about him?

    Hard Hit % - 41.8%

    Barrel % - 5.9%

    K% - 21.8%

    BB% - 7.3%

    Chase % - 31.8%

    (Numbers from 2020)

    By the numbers, Correa didn't have the greatest regular season in 2020. He slashed .264/.326/.383 with a 97 wRC+, meaning he was 3% worse in run production that the average hitter. He was tied for 14th amongst qualified shortstops with Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Francisco Lindor (100 wRC+) was one spot ahead of Correa, while Orlando Arcia (96 wRC+) was one spot behind. His Hard Hit % was in the 65th percentile in MLB, and his Barrel % was in the 34th percentile.

    His expected numbers suggest that the dip in performance wasn't a matter of bad luck. His .256 xBA is slightly worse than his actual batting average. His .406 xSLG is slightly better than his actual .SLG, but not by much. Correa had a wOBA of .305 and a nearly identical xwOBA of .306. Lastly, his .324 BABIP was actually a .021 point jump over last year, and it's a touch above his career mark of .316.

    Correa likely struggled during the regular season because of a downturn in production to the opposite field. Correa pulled the ball 49% of the time in 2020. That was 16th amongst qualified hitters, and it's a complete outlier for him in his career. It was 14.4% higher than 2019, and it was 15.6% higher than his career average. In 2019, Correa had a 9% HR% on batted balls to the opposite field. He had an average exit velocity of 87.7 MPH with an average launch angle of 27°. His batting average was .368 with a xBA of .349 to that part of the field. In 2020, Correa had a 0% HR% to the opposite field (meaning he didn't hit one). He had an average exit velocity of 86.8 MPH with an average launch angle of 30°. His batting average was .382, but his xBA was .259. Keep in mind, Correa missed most of the 2019 season with injury, so the sample sizes aren't all that different (57 AB's in 2019 versus 34 AB's in 2020).

    It's a similar story for the straightaway portion of the field. In 2019, Correa had an 11% HR%, 90.4 MPH avg. exit velocity, 8° avg. launch angle, .370 BA, and .424 xBA between the gaps. In 2020, Correa had a 5% HR%, 88.5 MPH avg. exit velocity, 4° avg. launch angle, .349 BA, and .362 xBA.

    That all changed in the postseason.

    Here is an overlay of Correa's spray charts from postseason games in which he hit home runs. Five of his six postseason homers were to center field, and three of the five to center field were on the opposite field side of second base.

    Correa also made some physical changes at the plate over the course of the season, particularly late in the season, which means that the uptick in offensive performance is related to a physical change, not just some sort of ability to turn it on in the postseason. Correa mentioned that he and Alex Cintron compared video to his rookie season to look at hand positioning, and Correa started to mimic that. Then, there's the already-famed story of Correa and Cintron running to the cages mid-game to open up his shoulders and be less closed off. All of those changes are clearly visible on video.

    On the left is Correa early in the 2020 season when the Astros were in San Diego playing the Padres. In the middle is Correa's first career home run in 2015. On the right is Correa's walk-off homer against Tampa Bay. There are four clear and obvious changes. First, he's holding the bat nearly straight up, which he wasn't doing at the beginning of the season. It supports Correa's claim that he and Cintron were looking at video from 2015 and trying to mirror that swing again. Then, there's the change with Correa's shoulders. In the first photo, if it weren't so grainy, you could read "C-O-R-R-E" in Correa. Same deal with the second photo, except it's even more clear. In the third photo, you can only read "C-O" which also supports the story of that mid-game adjustment with Cintron. Third, Correa has a lot less forward body lean with his torso. Correa hasn't spoken as to why he made that change, but it is probably tied to shoulder and bat orientation and helps him feel more comfortable. Lastly, Correa opened his stance, which is almost always going to help with vision.

    The changes all probably help Correa feel more free when he swings. His postseason swing was much more North-and-South than East-and-West. His hands are able to work freely underneath his shoulders, and he has to do a lot less work to clear space for his hands to work. It's encouraging that the uptick in performance is clearly tied to physical work in the cage.

    Correa did bring solid defense to the table as well. He's a finalist for the AL Gold Glove Award at SS along with Niko Goodrum of the Detroit Tigers and J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners. Correa will likely win the award. However, the defensive metrics are mixed on his performance.

    Errors don't count as an advanced statistic, but they still bring value to the table. There's a direct correlation between making errors and giving up free bases. Now, just because a player doesn't make many errors doesn't mean he's an elite defender, but it's hard to be an elite defender if you make lots of errors. Correa takes care of the baseball, as his one error was tied for the least amongst shortstops. Correa also performed glowingly by DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). His DRS of 8 was second amongst shortstops, second behind only Dansby Swanson. However, UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) had Correa at -0.7, which is below average. His OAA (Outs Above Average) of 0 roughly agrees with his UZR rating. Essentially, the numbers say Correa makes the routine plays about as well as anybody, but he isn't particularly rangy. His arm is also impressive and brings a lot to the table. Correa isn't a bad defensive shortstop by any means, he's above average, but this is probably the only Gold Glove he'll ever be nominated for, much less win.

    When Correa is healthy and on his game, he is one of the most electric players in baseball. The problem is he hasn't been healthy and on his game nearly enough in his career. Over his five full major league seasons, Correa has missed 203 out of 708 games. He's been unavailable, mostly due to injury, in 30% of games over that time. That's quite a bit. The three injuries that have caused him to miss the most time are all back and torso related. The fact that the back issues have recurred is alarming, and it's something to monitor. It is really hard to be a good baseball player with a bad back. Credit to Correa, he stayed healthy for all of 2020, but it was only a 60 game season, which means there were fewer opportunities for injury. If he has another healthy season in 2021, it'll be enough to put the injury prone label to rest, but he hasn't done it yet.

    And again, there's the issue of his performance being up-and-down over the years. In 2018, Correa missed 52 games due to injury, and had a wRC+ of 100, meaning he was exactly league average. That means he's been only league average or worse in two of his six big league seasons. Correa played extremely well in 2019, racking up 3.2 WAR and 143 wRC+, but he only played 75 games.

    Between COVID, injury history, and streaky performance, there's too much uncertainty to give Correa a long term deal right now. However, his peaks, leadership ability, and apparent willingness to stay in Houston certainly make him a candidate for one. 2021 will be a "prove it" year for Correa, and it will go a long way in ranking him amongst the crop of shortstops hitting the free agent market after next year. Is Correa at the top of that market with Francisco Lindor, or is he at the bottom of that market with Javy Baez?

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