THE SOCCER REPORT

MLS kicks off 24th season, Barcelona sweeps Real Madrid and other soccer results

Fans across the country were back in their home stadiums to support their MLS teams. Photo by Diego Dlouhy/SportsMap Houston.

There's plenty to talk about around the soccer world, starting with FC Barcelona's two wins over rivals Real Madrid in the same week. The coming week will be dominated by international club soccer with knockout matches in the UEFA and Concacaf Champions League plus the start of the group stage in the Copa Libertadores.

English Premier League

Every goal from Premier League Matchweek 29 | NBC Sports www.youtube.com

Two matchdays this week have helped Manchester City stay atop the table by a point as Liverpool's nil-nil draw against rivals Everton may prove to be a pivotal match in the latter's title hopes. As far as the top six, there's still some shifting around though Manchester United has the slight lead for the fourth and final Champions League spot.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (71), 2. Liverpool (70), 3. Tottenham (61), 4. Manchester United (58), 5. Arsenal (57), 6. Chelsea (56)

Scoring leader: 18 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 11 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Highlights Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona (0-1) www.youtube.com

Barcelona enjoyed two victories - in Madrid, no less - over rivals Real by knocking them out of the Copa del Rey with a 3-0 win and then following that up with a 1-0 win in league play. Real Madrid are only left in Champions League contention as far as any title hopes this season while Barcelona looks set for another La Liga title.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (60), 2. Atlético Madrid (53), 3. Real Madrid (48), 4. Getafe (42), 5. Alaves (40), 6. Sevilla (37)

Scoring leader: 25 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 11 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Dortmund's fall to Augsburg and Bayern's emphatic win over Monchengladbach have evened things up at the top of the Bundesliga table. Dortmund now has very little room for error if they still dream with winning the league while Bayern are back on track for a seventh consecutive title.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (54), 2. Bayern Munich (54), 3. RB Leipzig (45), 4. Monchengladbach (43), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (40), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (39)

Scoring leader: 15 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt) / Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 10 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund) / Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (72), 2. Napoli (56), 3. Milan (48), 4. Inter Milan (47), 5. Roma (44), 6. Lazio (41)

Scoring leader: 19 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) / Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 8 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) / Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (71), 2. Lille (54), 3. Lyon (49), 4. Marseille (44), 5. Saint-Étienne (43), 6. Stade Reims (42)

Scoring leader: 24 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 8 - Nicolas Pepe (Lille) / Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Kenny Lala (Strasbourg)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (61), 2. Ajax (56), 3. Feyenoord (46)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (59), 2. Club Brugge (53), 3. Antwerp (49)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (59), 2. Porto (57), 3. Braga (52)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (66), 2. Rangers (58), 3. Aberdeen (50)

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Concacaf Champions League

The Round of 16 in the CCL saw a conclusion this week with the second leg matches deciding who advanced to the following round. MLS had its four U.S. representatives advance in Atlanta United, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City while Liga MX is represented by northern clubs Monterrey, Tigres UANL and Santos Laguna. Independiente of Panama is the other team that advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to their upset of Toronto FC.

Round of 16 - second leg results:

  • Toronto FC 1-1 Independiente (1-5 agg.)
  • Tigres 5-1 Saprissa (5-2 agg.)
  • Houston Dynamo 2-1 Guastatoya (3-1agg.)
  • Santos Laguna 5-0 Marathon (11-2 agg.)
  • NY Red Bulls 3-0 Atletico Pantoja (5-0 agg.)
  • Monterrey 1-0 Alianza (1-0 agg.)
  • Atlanta United 4-0 Herediano (5-3 agg.)
  • Toluca 0-2 Sporting KC (0-5 agg.)

The quarter-finals begins on Tuesday.

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer's 24th season kicked off with plenty of draws to go around, five of them to be exact. The Dynamo were one of those teams with their season opener against Real Salt Lake ending in a 1-1 stalemate. Seattle Sounders gave new club Cincinnati a harsh welcome with a 4-1 result while Colorado and Portland played to a 3-3 draw in the snow.

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Tigres UANL (22), 2. Monterrey (21), 3. Leon (20), 4. Club Tijuana (16), 5. Chivas Guadalajara (14), 6. Santos Laguaa (14), 7. Pachuca (14), 8. Club America (13)

Scoring leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 6 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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Copa Libertadores

Third round - second leg results:

  • Caracas FC 2-1 Melgar (2-3 agg.)
  • Palestino 2-1 Talleres Cordoba (4-3 agg.)
  • Atletico Mineiro 0-0 Defensor Sporting (2-0 agg.)
  • Atletico Nacional 1-0 Libertad (1-1 agg., Libertad wins 5-4 on penalties)

The group stage begins on Tuesday.

Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (51), 2. Defensa y Justicia (48), 3. Boca Juniors (41), 4. Atletico Tucuman (39)

Scoring leader: 16 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 8 - Walter Montillo (Tigre)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Mar. 5

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham (B/R Live, Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Real Madrid vs. Ajax (TNT, UniMas)

6:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Jorge Wilstermann vs. Boca Juniors (beIN SPORTS en Español)

7:00 p.m. - [SheBelieves Cup] U.S. Women's National Team vs. Brazil (FS1)

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] New York Red Bulls vs. Santos Laguna (YahooSports.com)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Houston Dynamo vs. Tigres UANL (YahooSports.com)

Wednesday, Mar. 6

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Porto vs. Roma (B/R Live, Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] PSG vs. Manchester United (TNT, UniMas)

6:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Alianza Lima vs. River Plate (beIN SPORTS en Español)

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Independiente vs. Sporting KC (YahooSports.com)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Monterrey vs. Atlanta United (YahooSports.com)

Thursday, Mar. 7

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Inter (B/R Live, UniMas)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Rennes vs. Arsenal (B/R Live, Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Chelsea vs. Dynamo Kiev (B/R Live, UniMas)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Napoli vs. Red Bull Salzburg (B/R Live, Galavision)

6:00 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] LDU Quito vs. Peñarol (beIN SPORTS en Español)

8:00 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Deportivo Lara vs. Emelec (beIN SPORTS en Español)

Friday, Mar. 8

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Werder Bremen vs. Schalke 04 (FS2)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Juventus vs. Udinese (ESPN+)

Saturday, Mar. 9

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. VfL Wolfsburg (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. VfB Stuttgart (FS2)

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

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Newcastle vs. Everton (CNBC)

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

11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano (beIN Sports)

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy (Univision)

4:00 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact (KUBE57)

Sunday, Mar. 10

7:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Burnley (NBC Sports)

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

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

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Valladolid vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

4:00 p.m. - [MLS] Atlanta United vs. Cincinnati (ESPN)

6:30 p.m. - [MLS] LAFC vs. Portland Timbers (FS1)

Dash 1, Reign FC 1

5 kicks from Dash vs. Reign FC

Dash forward Nichelle Prince (center) scored in the 10th minute against Reign FC. (Photo by Jose Castenanos)

The Houston Dash opened their sixth professional season in the National Women's Soccer League with a 1-1 home draw against Regin FC on Sunday. Canadian National Team forward Nichelle Prince scored the lone goal for the Dash while U.S. National Team Goalkeeper Jane Campbell saved a penalty attempt in stoppage time.

Here are five observations from the win:

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dash vs. Reign FC | April 14, 2019 www.youtube.com

1) Welcome to the Clarkson era

Head Coach James Clarkson made his debut as a manager in the women's game. He was named the third head coach in club history after being announced to the role last December. Sunday was the first real test for the team, being that it was their first competitive match and one against a professional team.

The Dash had some good chances, enough to win this match at least, and have only themselves to blame for the dropped points. True, Reign FC is a more seasoned team with a two-time NWSL Championship winning coach but they were beatable on the day. Given that players are still adjusting to a new coaching staff, Clarkson gets a pass here for the result. Going forward, however, these are the types of games that have to be won if the club wants to even entertain qualifying to their first NWSL playoffs.

2) Prince pounces on mistake

Canadian forward Nichelle Prince won the battle against Reign defender Theresa Nielsen, dispossessing her to score in the 10th minute. The 24-year-old from Ajax, Ontario, Canada was a nuisance for the defense for a large part of the game and provided a good outlet for the attack in transition. The ability to create her own opportunity turned into the team's only goal on the day. She will be a player to keep an eye on not only for the Dash but for Canada at this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.

3) Campbell saves the day

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell had a fairly solid day in goal. Other than the deflected shot that put the Reign on the scoreboard in the 58th minute, there wasn't much that she couldn't handle. In the waning minutes of the match, however, she was careless with a back pass that ended in her conceding a stoppage time penalty (she apologized for the play after the match). In the end, she stayed a hero by blocking the penalty and securing the point for the home team.

4) Brooks plays in 100th NWSL match

Only 21 players had featured in 100 NWSL matches until Sunday. Amber Brooks became the 22nd player to reach that milestone, coincidentally her jersey number is no. 22. The club's Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 has become one of the key figures on the team since her arrival in 2016. Another coincidence was that she reached the accomplishment against Reign FC, the team she played for before coming to Houston. Brooks continues to add to her resume which also includes playing in Europe with FC Bayern Munich and in Australia, this past offseason, with Adelaide United.

5) Lowest turnout for a home opener

If you've read my "5 Kicks" after Houston Dynamo games, you've read plenty about the dwindling attendance at the matches for the men. Unfortunately, due to the Dash getting a fraction of the Dynamo's resources despite sharing the same ownership group, it's an even more uphill battle on the women's side. The match hardly had any marketing dollars behind it and the attendance figures reflect that.

2014 - 8,097 on April 12 vs. Portland Thorns (L 0-1)

2015 - 6,012 on April 10 vs. Washington Spirit (W 2-0)

2016 - 7,440 on April 16 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 3-1)

2017 - 4,484 on April 15 vs. Chicago Red Stars (W 2-0)

2018 - 5,846 on March 25 vs. Chicago Red Stars (T 1-1)

2019 - 4,335 on April 14 vs. Reign FC (T 1-1)

The drop in the home opener comes a year after Dynamo/Dash Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer David Brady shared a three-year attendance plan with the Houston Business Journal - one that aims for the club to double their numbers by next season.

Dash player of the game: Nichelle Prince

The Dash don't come away with a point, or have a chance at three, if not for Prince's efforts that put the team on the scoreboard.

Next up:

Saturday, April 20th at Sky Blue FC (5:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com)

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