THE SOCCER REPORT

Premier League race down to the wire; Racing Club win Superliga Argentina

Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis was named to the MLS Team of the Week after his performance in the 4-1 win at Colorado. Credit: MLS

With international soccer finally concluded, at least until the summer, it's high speed ahead for clubs around the world as league titles, domestic cups and international club competitions start to reach the finish line.

English Premier League

Every goal from Premier League Matchweek 32 | NBC Sports www.youtube.com

This is where the big money begins to be earned in the Premier League. Liverpool's 2-1 win over Tottenham was the highlight of the weekend but also a big match in terms of the standings. The Reds move to the top spot, at least momentarily, while Tottenham's loss gave way for London rivals Arsenal to jump them for the third spot overall. Manchester United also continue in the top four race as Ole Gunnar Solskjær was named the permanent manager.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (79), 2. Manchester City (77), 3. Arsenal (63), 4. Tottenham (61), 5. Manchester United (61), 6. Chelsea (60)

Scoring leader: 19 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 11 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

All Goals Matchday 29 LaLiga Santander 2018/2019 www.youtube.com

Atletico Madrid Manager Diego Simeone said this week that they will fight till their last breath for the league despite it looking like the title has already been won by FC Barcelona. Atletico will have an opportunity, at least, to try to back that claim as the top two sides face off this coming weekend.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (69), 2. Atlético Madrid (59), 3. Real Madrid (57), 4. Getafe (46), 5. Alaves (44), 6. Valencia (43)

Scoring leader: 31 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 12 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

This year's Bundesliga title will likely be decided this weekend when Dortmund and Bayern Munich face off in Der Klassiker. Dortmund helped their chances by winning this past Saturday but they will still have to fend off the defending champs as only two points separate the two most winning teams in Germany.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (63), 2. Bayern Munich (61), 3. RB Leipzig (52), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (49), 5. Monchengladbach (47), 6. Werder Bremen (42)

Scoring leader: 19 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 13 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (78), 2. Napoli (63), 3. Inter Milan (53), 4. Milan (51), 5. Lazio (48), 6. Atalanta (48)

Scoring leader: 21- Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 9 - Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta) / Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (80), 2. Lille (60), 3. Lyon (56), 4. Saint-Étienne (49), 5. Marseille (48), 6. Stade Reims (46)

Scoring leader: 27 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 10 - Angel Di Maria (PSG)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (67), 2. Ajax (65), 3. AZ Alkmaar (50)

Belgian First Division A

Championship Round: 1. Genk (35), 2. Club Brugge (31), 3. Standard Liege (30), 4. Anderlecht (26), 5. Antwerp (25), 6. Genk (25)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (66), 2. Porto (66), 3. Sporting CP (58)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (73), 2. Rangers (60), 3. Kilmarnock (54)

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Major League Soccer

A Panenka, A Chip, A Stunning Debut Steals the Show in Week 5 youtu.be

The Houston Dynamo are one of a handful of undefeated MLS teams through week five of the 2019 season. This past week stood out for the high margin of goals including LAFC's 5-0 win at San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting KC's 7-1 home win over Montreal Impact and the Dynamo's own 4-1 win away at Colorado Rapids. LAFC's Carlos Vela and D.C. United's Wayne Rooney both scored spectacular goals while LA Galaxy picked up three points thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who returned to action after being out injured. Spanish newcomer Alejandro Pozuelo also stole the headlines to start the week after a scoring twice in Toronto's 4-0 win over NYCFC.

East top seven: 1. D.C. United (10), 2. Columbus Crew (10), 3. Toronto (9), 4. Philadelphia (7), 5. Cincinatti (7), 6. Montreal (6), 7. Orlando (5)

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

Liga MX

Mejores Goles | Jornada 12 | LIGA Bancomer MX www.youtube.com

Top eight: 1. Leon (29), 2. Tigres UANL (26), 3. Monterrey (23), 4. Club America (22), 5. Necaxa (21), 6. Pachuca (20), 7. Cruz Azul (19), 8. Puebla (19)

Scoring leader: 11 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 8 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Superliga Argentina

After leading much of the league at the top of the standings, Racing Club de Avellaneda clinched the Argentine league title over the weekend with a 1-1 draw against Tigre. The result put the league out of reach for second place Defensa y Justicia, who Racing will actually host on Sunday in what could've been a game of higher stakes.

Top four: 1. Racing Club (56), 2. Defensa y Justicia (52), 3. Boca Juniors (50), 4. River Plate (45)

Scoring leader: 17 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 9 - Walter Montillo (Tigre)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Apr. 2

12:00 p.m. - [Serie A] AC Milan vs. Udinese (ESPN+)

12:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Girona (beIN Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Wolves vs. Man United (NBC Sports)

2:00 p.m. - [Serie A] Cagliari vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

2:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Villarreal vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Paranaense vs. Boca Juniors (beIN Sports)

9:15 p.m. - [Copa MX Semifinal] Club America vs. Tijuana (Univision Deportes)

Wednesday, Apr. 3

11:30 a.m. - [German Cup] Bayern Munich vs. Heidenheim (ESPNews, ESPN Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace (NBC Sports)

2:00 p.m. - [Serie A] Genoa vs. Inter Milan (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [French Cup Semifinal] PSG vs. Nantes (beIN Sports Connect)

2:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Valencia vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Internacional vs. River Plate (beIN Sports)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Tigres UANL vs. Santos Laguna (YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes)

Thursday, Apr. 4

11:30 a.m. - [Eredivisie] PSV vs. Zwolle (ESPN+)

1:30 p.m. - [Belgian League] Anderlecht vs. Brugge (B/R Live)

2:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. Real Betis (beIN Sports)

8:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] U.S. Women's National Team vs. Australia (FS1)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Monterrey vs. Sporting KC (YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes)

Friday, Apr. 5

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz 05 vs. SC Freiburg (FS2)

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

Saturday, Apr. 6

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace (NBC Sports)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund (FOX)

11:30 a.m. - [FA Cup Semifinal] Manchester City vs. Brighton and Hove Albion (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

2:00 p.m. - [MLS] D.C. United vs. LAFC (FOX)

Sunday, Apr. 7

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [FA Cup Semifinal] Watford vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [MLS] FC Cincinnati vs. Sporting KC (ESPN)

8:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] U.S. Women's National Team vs. Belgium (ESPN2)

Monday, Apr. 8

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

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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