THE SOCCER REPORT

Premier League race awaits final weekend; Liga MX playoffs set

Chelsea secured a Champions League spot for next season while debuting their new kits. Courtesy: Nike, Inc.


UEFA Champions League

FC Barcelona and Ajax took wins in the first leg semi-final matches. Barcelona goes on the road to Liverpool, who will be without Mohamed Salah, while Ajax looks to close out Tottenham at home.

Semifinals - first leg results:

  • Tottenham 0-1 Ajax
  • FC Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool

UEFA Europa League

Arsenal took a good lead at home but must now close the deal in Spain to advance to the final. With the Premier League results over the weekend, Europa League may be Arsenal's last chance to qualify for next year's Champions League. With Chelsea, assuring themselves a spot in next year's UCL, their biggest motivation to continue strong in the Europa League is the chase for silverware.

Semifinals - first leg results:

  • Arsenal 3-1 Valencia
  • Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Chelsea

English Premier League

The Premier League title will come down to the final day of the season. Manchester City is in the pole position and will be crowned champions if they win. Liverpool need a win and a City draw/loss. Chelsea clinched a top four finish and a Champions League spot while Manchester United missed out on the latter and will have to settle for Europa League next season.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (92), 2. Liverpool (91), 3. Chelsea (71), 4. Tottenham (70), 5. Arsenal (67), 6. Manchester United (66)

Scoring leader: 22 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Assists leader: 15 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Top six: 1. (C) - FC Barcelona (83), 2. Atlético Madrid (74), 3. Real Madrid (68), 4. Getafe (58), 5. Valencia (55), 6. Sevilla (55)

Scoring leader: 34 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 13 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) / Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla)

German Bundesliga

Bayern Munich are within reach of the Bundesliga title, needing only a win to clinch it in the penultimate matchday.

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (74), 2. Dortmund (70), 3. RB Leipzig (65), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (54), 5. Bayer Leverkusen (54), 6. Monchengladbach (52)

Scoring leader: 22 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 14 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. (C) - Juventus (89), 2. Napoli (73), 3. Inter Milan (63), 4. Atalanta (62), 5. A.C. Milan (59), 6. Roma (59)

Scoring leader: 25 - Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 10 - Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta) / Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. (C) - PSG (85), 2. Lille (69), 3. Lyon (63), 4. Saint-Étienne (62), 5. Montpellier (55), 6. Marseille (55)

Scoring leader: 30 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 13 - Teji Savanier (Nimes)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. Ajax (80), 2. PSV Eindhoven (80), 3. Feyenoord (62)

Belgian First Division A

Championship Round: 1. Genk (50), 2. Club Brugge (44), 3. Antwerp (38), 4. Standard Liege (36), 5. Anderlecht (30), 6. Gent (26)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (81), 2. Porto (79), 3. Sporting CP (73)

Scottish Premier League

Championship: 1. (C) Celtic (84), 2. Rangers (75), 3. Aberdeen (61)

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Concacaf Champions League

CF Monterrey Highlights vs. Tigres 2 www.youtube.com

Monterrey finally lifted a title at their new stadium and it couldn't have come against a sweeter opponent. After winning the first leg 1-0 away, Monterrey tied 1-1 at home against city rivals Tigres to win the 2019 Concacaf Champions League.

Major League Soccer

East top seven: 1. Philadelphia (20), 2. D.C. United (20), 3. Montreal (17), 4. Toronto (16), 5. NYCFC (15), 6. Columbus (13), 7. Orlando (12)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (24), 2. LA Galaxy (22), 3. Houston (19), 4. Seattle (19), 5. FC Dallas (17), 6. Minnesota (15), 7. San Jose (11)

Scoring leader: 11 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 6 - Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC) / Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) / Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC)

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Leon (38), 2. Tigres UANL (34), 3. Monterrey (30), 4. Cruz Azul (29), 5. Pachuca (28), 6. Necaxa (26), 7. Club America (26), 8. Tijuana (25)

Scoring leader: 14 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 10 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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National Women's Soccer League

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

Scoring leader: 4 - Crystal Dunn (North Carolina)

Assists leader: 2 - Lynn Williams (North Carolina) / Meghan Klingenberg (Portland) / Yuki Nagasato (Chicago)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, May 7

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

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] River Plate vs. Internacional (beIN SPORTS)

Wednesday, May 8

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

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Cruzeiro vs. Emelec (beIN SPORTS en Español)

6:00 p.m. - [MLS] Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC (ESPN+)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Pachuca vs. Tigres UANL (Univision Deportes)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Peñarol vs. Flamengo (beIN SPORTS)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Tijuana vs. Leon (Univision Deportes)

Thursday, May 9

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

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

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Necaxa vs. Monterrey (Univision Deportes)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. Atletico PR (beIN SPORTS)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Club America vs. Cruz Azul (Univision Deportes)

Friday, May 10

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

Saturday, May 11

8:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich (FOX, UniMas)

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

1:00 p.m. - [MLS] FC Dallas vs. NY Red Bulls (Univision, Twitter)

2:30 p.m. - [NWSL] Utah Royals vs. Houston Dash (YahooSports.com)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Tigres vs. Pachuca (Univision Deportes)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Leon vs. Tijuana (Univision Deportes)

9:00 p.m. - [MLS] Seattle Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE 57)

Sunday, May 12

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

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

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Leicester City vs. Chelsea (CNBC)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Everton (SyFy)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Burnley vs. Arsenal (MSNBC)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Cardiff City (USA)

1:30 p.m. - [MLS] Atlanta United vs. Orlando City (ESPN)

6:00 p.m. - [MLS] D.C. United vs. Sporting KC (FS1)

6:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Club America vs. Cruz Azul (Univision Deportes)

8:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Playoffs] Leon vs. Necaxa (Univision Deportes)

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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