THE SOCCER REPORT

Premier League race awaits final weekend; Liga MX playoffs set

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 2www.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)

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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