THE SOCCER REPORT

NWSL kicks off 7th season; UCL, UEL semifinalists to be decided

Houston Dash defender Amber Brooks was honored before the season opener for becoming the 22nd player to feature in 100 league matches. (Photo credit: Jose Castellanos)

The National Women's Soccer League kicked off a historic 7th season and the European competitions got one step closer to crowning their champions in this week's soccer happenings. As always, skip down to the end of this article for a schedule of the top upcoming matches.

Top stories:

  • UEFA Champions League semifinalists to be decided Tuesday and Wednesday
  • UEFA Europa League semifinalists to be decided Thursday
  • MLS opens newest soccer-only stadium in Minnesota
  • Houston Dynamo look to remain unbeaten Friday at LA Galaxy
  • Houston Dash open season with 1-1 draw, play away on Saturday
  • Groups announced for this summer's Gold Cup and African Cup of Nations

UEFA Champions League

After this week, only four teams will remain in the hunt for the title of European Champion. Last Tuesday, Tottenham picked up a narrow 1-0 win over City in the first UCL match at the new Spurs Stadium while Liverpool handled Porto with a 2-0 win at Anfield. On Wednesday, Barcelona came away with a 1-0 win at Manchester United while Juventus drew 1-1 at Ajax.


UEFA Europa League

Arsenal, Chelsea and Valencia all picked up key wins in their search for this year's Europa League trophy and the coveted Champions League qualification that comes with it. The talk of the week, however, was about 19-year-old Portuguese forward João Félix who scored a hat-trick in Benfica's 4-2 win over Frankfurt.

Benfica 4-2 Eintracht Frankfurt: Europa League Recap with Highlights, Goals and Best Moments www.youtube.com


English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (85), 2. Manchester City (83), 3. Tottenham (67), 4. Arsenal (66), 5. Chelsea (66), 6. Manchester United (64)

Scoring leader: 19 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) / Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 12 - Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) / Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (74), 2. Atlético Madrid (65), 3. Real Madrid (61), 4. Sevilla (52), 5. Getafe (51), 6. Valencia (49)

Scoring leader: 33 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 12 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (67), 2. Dortmund (66), 3. RB Leipzig (58), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (52), 5. Monchengladbach (51), 6. Hoffenheim (47)

Scoring leader: 21 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 13 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (84), 2. Napoli (67), 3. Inter Milan (60), 4. Milan (55), 5. Roma (54), 6. Atalanta (53)

Scoring leader: 22 - Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 10 - Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

PSG's 2-2 draw against Strasbourg means the defending champions will have to wait one more match to celebrate their newest league championship.

Top six: 1. PSG (81), 2. Lille (64), 3. Lyon (56), 4. Saint-Étienne (53), 5. Marseille (51), 6. Montpellier (48)

Scoring leader: 27 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 11 - Nicolas Pepe (Lille) / Teji Savanier (Nimes)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. Ajax (74), 2. PSV Eindhoven (74), 3. Feyenoord (56)

Belgian First Division A

Championship Round: 1. Genk (41), 2. Club Brugge (37), 3. Antwerp (34), 4. Standard Liege (31), 5. Anderlecht (26), 6. Gent (25)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (69), 2. Porto (69), 3. Sporting CP (61)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (77), 2. Rangers (66), 3. Kilmarnock (58)

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Concacaf Champions League

Liga MX top spenders, and crosstown rivals, Tigres UANL and Monterrey will face off later this month in the final series to determine the new club champion of Concacaf.


Major League Soccer

East top seven: 1. D.C. United (14), 2. Columbus (13), 3. Montreal (11), 4. Toronto (10), 5. Philadelphia (10), 6. Orlando (8), 7. Cincinnati (8)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (19), 2. Seattle (16), 3. LA Galaxy (15), 4. Houston (13), 5. FC Dallas (13), 6. Minnesota (10), 7. Sporting KC (9)

Scoring leader: 8 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 5 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Leon (35), 2. Tigres UANL (32), 3. Monterrey (26), 4. Necaxa (24), 5. Pachuca (24), 6. Club America (23), 7. Cruz Azul (23), 8. Tijuana(22)


Scoring leader: 12 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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National Women's Soccer League

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

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African Cup of Nations


Concacaf Gold Cup



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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Apr. 16

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

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] FC Barcelona vs. Manchester United (TNT, UniMas/Univision Deportes)

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

Wednesday, Apr. 17

12:00 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Nantes vs. PSG (beIN Sports)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Manchester City vs. Tottenham (TNT, UniMas/Univision Deportes)

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

9:00 p.m. - [MLS] Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. LAFC (ESPN+)

Thursday, Apr. 18

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Napoli vs. Arsenal (B/R Live, Univision Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Chelsea vs. Slavia Prague (B/R Live, Galavision)

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

Friday, Apr. 19

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Valladolid (beIN Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Nantes vs. Lyon (beIN Sports)

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

10:00 p.m. - [MLS] LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo (Twitter, UniMas)

Saturday, Apr. 20

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

8:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen (FS1, Univision Deportes)

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

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

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

11:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. RB Leipzig 05 (FS1)

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

3:00 p.m. - [MLS] Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas (ESPN)

5:00 p.m. - [NWSL] Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash (YahooSports.com)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Cruz Azul vs. Pumas (Univision)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Chivas vs. Puebla (Univision)

Sunday, Apr. 21

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Freiburg vs. Dortmund (FS1, Univision Deportes)

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

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

3:00 p.m. - [MLS] D.C. United vs. New York City FC (ESPN)

6:00 p.m. - [MLS] LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders FC (FS1)

Monday, Apr. 22

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

From June Jones as the head coach to Johnny Manziel's potential future

What you need to know about the XFL in Houston

SportsMap/Cody Stoots

The XFL announced their final head coach in Houston at TDECU stadium which will serve as their home in 2020. Here is what you need to know about the XFL coming to Houston.

June Jones and his offense first mentality

The well traveled June Jones will coach the XFL Houston team. He returns back to professional football in Houston for the third time in his coaching career. Previously he was the wide receivers coach for the USFL's Houston Gamblers and the quarterbacks coach for the Oilers.

He has been a head coach a number of places including for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, SMU and Hawaii in college, and recently with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League.

Jones praised the XFL's forward-thinking attitude about offense and its draw to fans. He mentioned multiple times his plans to have an offensive attack that resembles the ones he has previously implemented.

What about Johnny Football?

June Jones coached Johnny Manziel in the CFL when Manziel was on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Jones praised Manziel and said he enjoyed working with him in the time he coached him in the CFL.

Jones ultimately left it up to the league for Manziel's future. XFL owner Vince McMahon said at the league's introduction press conference "If you have any sort of criminal record or commit a crime, you aren't playing in this league."

It remains to be seen if that will be a situation that is enforced on Manziel.

The XFL Showcase

CEO and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck gave some more details on the future of the XFL.

The biggest news was the upcoming eight XFL showcases the league has planned. The XFL will be inviting players eligible to play in the league for a tryout/combine event. Luck also mentioned current college players could attend these workouts and doing so wouldn't compromise their eligibility with their schools.

Every XFL city will have one of these tryouts. Luck also mentioned their coaches would be attending NFL training camps around the nation in hopes of scouting players that could end up in the XFL.

The league is scheduled to tentatively hold its draft in October.

The Houston ______ of the XFL

None of the eight XFL teams have names or color schemes yet. Oliver Luck said they are in the process of determining what those may be.

Luck said they are working with outside agencies as well as the creative department of Vince McMahon's WWE to come up with names and schemes for the teams to use.

When pressed about honoring some of the football history in this city, such as using the Oilers Columbia Blue colors, Luck smiled and politely declined to get into specifics. He did though mention when he was the president of the Houston Dynamo the soccer club had a Columbia Blue alternate jersey.

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