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)

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan addressed questions from fans during the first hour of Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night. Among the topics of conversation were potential player signings, concerns with player development and club operations.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A with callers to the program:

Potential Transfers

On why the Dynamo has not gone after a big name player that can fill BBVA Stadium

We're very open and we have had discussion with "big name players" ... For us, it's about getting the right players and I truly believe, through my experiences, you also have stars that grow within the league. We've seen that with our team with Alberth Elis, with Mauro Manotas - from my time in Montreal, we saw that with Ignacio Piatti. These weren't "big name stars" but they became "big name stars" so we look at all of it. We look at making our own stars, we look at some players that have been on the biggest stages and maybe a bit older but, for us, it's analyzing what's the right fit.

On the suggestion of a player like Mexico National Team Captain Andres Guardado

A lot of fans will say, "bring a big name, a Messi or Ronaldo" and that's not always realistic in the world of soccer but those are the types of profiles we do continue to look at along with making our own stars as well, which I think we've done a good job of with the two players I mentioned, who are stars in the city of Houston now.

On the reports of Cruz Azul's interest in Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas

We're getting interest in a lot of our young talented players. The two players that everyone talks about is Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis, there's also a handful of other players that we get inquiries of from abroad. A lot of the teams in the Mexican league follow our teams very closely and Cruz Azul did express interest in Mauro... [a potential transfer] has to make sense for the player, it has to make sense for the club

Player Development

On the investment in the Houston Dynamo Academy

With the support of our ownership group, over the last 18 months, have made significant investments in the academy. We hired a new academy director in Paul Holocher, we brought on what I believe are some of the brightest young coaches in the Unites States. We've really worked very hard to strengthen our partnerships and our strategic alliances here within the city of Houston, which I believe has really been a downfall of ours in the past.

On the possibility of having a locally-based USL team

We have. One thing I can tell you, we have our USL players, our academy players, our U23 players in and out with the first team all the time. With the Open Cup, we brought up several of our USL players. You'll see a couple of our USL players come up for our League's Cup game as well... of course, it's more ideal to have it next to our first team field but we're very proud of the partnership in the [Rio Grande] Valley.

Club Policies

On the Dynamo's scouting system for recruiting players for the first team...

We do have a scout in Europe that's paid by us, we have a scout in South America that's paid by us and I also have a full-time scout and analyst, here, that is in Houston working with us in our recruitment department.

What we do is we go through the annual scouting calendar, we prioritize what events we need to hit. Generally speaking, I only travel when we get to the point - myself or [Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera] or both of us together, a lot of time we'll travel together in the offseason. We only really travel when we get to [final stages of a transfer].

We use our regional contacts...What I really focus on is having one key contact in each country and, a lot of times, we go after the player, it's not that the player is presented to us by the agent. [Recent signing Jose Bizama] is a prime example, we went after Bizama and we approached the club through our process. Now, there's times where a player is presented to us as well, but more often then not we utilize those regional contacts in each country. There's a lot of times, with many of our players, we've identified them or we've gone after them when they're, maybe, not for sale and that's when the grinding starts to take place for the negotiation.

On the club hosting a town hall meeting with supporters

In this moment, I can't speak for ownership but I have no problem being in any setting and fielding questions about the team for the fans.

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The entire conversation is available on the July 16, 2019 episode of the podcast, which can be heard on iTunes, Google Podcasts and www.podcastarena.com/soccermatters/

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