THE SOCCER REPORT

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

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 Sportswww.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 2018/2019www.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 5youtu.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 MXwww.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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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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