THE SOCCER REPORT

River-Boca on tap, Houston Dynamo playoff hopes end

River-Boca on tap, Houston Dynamo playoff hopes end
River Plate product Tomas Martinez has been a staple of Dynamo lineups in 2019. Credit: Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo are officially eliminated from playoff contention, sentencing their absence from the MLS Cup Playoffs in five of the past six seasons. The Dash are off this week but will be heading down to Monterrey, Mexico for a friendly with Liga MX side Tigres on Saturday night.

On the global scale, one of the most heated rivalries in the sport takes place on Tuesday night as Argentina's River Plate and Boca Juniors face off in the Copa Libertadores semifinals. The matchup is a rematch of the Libertadores finals from last year, a series that had to be finished in Spain because it was not deemed safe to conclude in Argentina.

Here is a review of the past week in soccer:

Major League Soccer

Last Wednesday, LAFC demolished the Houston Dynamo by a scoreline of 3-1 to clinch the best record in MLS and home field throughout the playoffs. The Supporters Shield is the two-year club's first major trophy. Four other Western Conference teams clinched a playoff spot, leaving only two to be decided for the final day of the regular season.

In the East, NYCFC clinched the top spot and a bye in the first round. New England defeated NYCFC on Sunday to secure the final playoff spot in the conference.

Every match will be played simultaneously on Sunday in MLS' "Decision Day." Aside from the final two playoff berths, seeding in the playoffs is also to be decided. Spots 2-4 in each conference host in the first round.

With two goals this week, Carlos Vela tied the single-season scoring record (31) set by Atlata's Josef Martinez in 2018. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not far behind in the Golden Boot race with 29 as the Galaxy come to Houston on Sunday.

East top seven: 1. y - NYCFC (61), 2. x - Atlanta (55), 3. x - Philadelphia (55), 4. x - D.C. United (49), 5. x - NY Red Bulls (48), 6. x - Toronto (47), 7. x - New England (45)

West top seven (and playoff hopefuls): 1. s - LAFC (69), 2. x - Minnesota (53), 3. x - Seattle (53), 4. x - LA Galaxy (51), 5. x - Real Salt Lake (50), 6. Portland (46), 7. Dallas (45), 8. San Jose (44), 9. Colorado (42)

Scoring leader: 31 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 20 - Maxi Morales (NYCFC)

National Women's Soccer League

The four teams in the NWSL playoffs have been decided with only the semifinal matchups to be decided as the league enters it's final two weeks. The Houston Dash will miss out on the postseason once more, a feat never accomplished in club history.

Standings: 1. s - North Carolina Courage (46), 2. x - Chicago Red Stars (44), 3. x - Portland Thorns (39), 4. x - Reign FC (37), 5. Utah Royals (31), 6. Washington Spirit (30), 7. Houston Dash (26), 8. Sky Blue FC (20), 9. Orlando Pride (15)

Scoring leader: 18 - Sam Kerr (Chicago)

Assists leader: 8 - Yuki Nagasato (Chicago)

English Premier League

Matchday 7 Results

  • Sheffield Utd 0-1 Liverpool
  • Crystal Palace 2-0 Norwich City
  • Aston Villa 2-2 Burnley
  • Bournemouth 2-2 West Ham
  • Wolves 2-0 Watford
  • Tottenham 2-1 Southampton
  • Chelsea 1-0 Brighton
  • Everton 1-3 Manchester City
  • Leicester City 5-0 Newcastle
  • Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal

Top six: Liverpool (21), Man City (16), Leicester City (14), Arsenal (12), West Ham (12), Tottenham (11)

Scoring leader: 8 - Sergio Aguero (Man City)

Assists leader: 8 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Matchday 6 Results

  • Valladolid 1-1 Granada
  • Real Betis 3-1 Levante
  • FC Barcelona 2-1 Villareal
  • RCD Mallorca 0-2 Atletico Madrid
  • Leganes 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
  • Valencia 3-3 Getafe
  • Real Madrid 2-0 Osasuna
  • Eibar 3-2 Sevilla
  • Celta Vigo 1-1 Espanyol
  • Real Sociedad 3-0 Alaves

Matchday 7 Results

  • Villareal 5-1 Real Betis
  • Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Valencia
  • Getafe 0-2 FC Barcelona
  • Granada 1-0 Leganes
  • Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Madrid
  • Espanyol 0-2 Valladolid
  • Eibar 2-0 Celta Vigo
  • Alaves 2-0 RCD Mallorca
  • Levante 1-1 Osasuna
  • Sevilla 3-2 Real Sociedad

Top six: Real Madrid (15), Granada (14), Atletico Madrid (14), FC Barcelona (13), Real Sociedad (13), Sevilla (13)

Scoring leader: 6 - Gerard Moreno (Villareal)

Assists leader: 3 - Five players tied

German Bundesliga

Matchday 6 Results

  • Union Berlin 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Hoffenheim 0-3 Monchengladbach
  • Mainz 0-1 Wolfsburg
  • Augsburg 0-3 Bayer Leverkusen
  • Paderborn 2-3 Bayern Munich
  • RB Leipzig 1-3 Schalke 04
  • Dortmund 2-2 Werder Bremen
  • Fortuna 1-2 Freiburg
  • Cologne 0-4 Hertha Berlin

Top six: Bayern Munich (14), RB Leipzig (13), Freiburg (13), Schalke 04 (13), Monchengladbach (13), Bayer Leverkusen (13)

Scoring leader: 10 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 4 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)

Italian Serie A

Matchday 5 Results

  • Hellas Verona 0-0 Udinese
  • Brescia 1-2 Juventus
  • Roma 0-2 Atalanta
  • SPAL 1-3 Lecce
  • Napoli 0-1 Cagliari
  • Genoa 0-0 Bologna
  • Fiorentina 2-1 Sampdoria
  • Parma 1-0 Sassuolo
  • Inter Milan 1-0 Lazio
  • Torino 2-1 AC Milan

Matchday 6 Results

  • Juventus 2-0 SPAL
  • Sampdoria 1-3 Inter Milan
  • Sassuolo 1-4 Atalanta
  • Napoli 2-1 Brescia
  • Lazio 4-0 Genoa
  • Udinese 1-0 Bolognia
  • Lecce 0-1 Roma
  • Cagliari 1-1 Hellas Verona
  • AC Milan 1-3 Fiorentina
  • Parma 3-2 Torino

Top six: Inter Milan (18), Juventus (16), Atalanta (13), Napoli (12), Roma (11), Lazio (10)

Scoring leader: 5 - Four players tied

Assists leader: 4 - Three players tied

French Ligue 1

Matchday 7 Results

  • Dijon 0-0 Marseille
  • Monaco 3-1 Nice
  • Brest 2-2 Lyon
  • St-Etienne 0-1 Metz
  • Amiens 1-3 Bordeaux
  • Nantes 1-0 Rennes
  • Montpellier 1-0 Nimes
  • Toulouse 0-2 Angers
  • Lille 2-0 Strasbourg
  • PSG 0-2 Stade Reims

Matchday 8 Results

  • Lyon 0-1 Nantes
  • Bordeaux 0-1 PSG
  • Stade Reims 1-2 Dijon
  • Metz 2-2 Toulouse
  • Monaco 4-1 Brest
  • Angers 1-1 Amiens
  • Nice 1-1 Lille
  • Strasbourg 1-0 Montpellier
  • Nimes 0-1 St-Etienne
  • Marseille 1-1 Rennes

Top six: PSG (18), Angers (16), Nantes (16), Lille (14), Marseille (13), Nice (13)

Scoring leader: 6 - Three players tied

Assists leader: 4 - Islam Slimani (Monaco)

Netherlands Eredivisie

Matchday 8 - Top Results

  • Ajax 2-0 Groningen
  • Waalwijk 1-2 Vitesse
  • Zwolle 0-2 PSV
  • AZ Alkmaar 2-0 Heracles
  • Feyenoord 5-1 Twente

Top four: Ajax (20), PSV (20), AZ Alkmaar (19), Vitesse (17)

Scoring leader: 8 - Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven)

Assists leader: 8 - Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Matchday 7 - Top Results

  • Benfica 1-0 Setubal
  • Famalicao 3-1 Belenenses
  • Vitoria 1-0 Pacos Ferreira
  • Rio Ave 0-1 Porto
  • Aves 0-1 Sporting CP

Top four: Famalicao(19), Benfica (18), Porto (18), Vitoria (12)

Scoring leader: 6 - Pizzi (Benfica) / Ze Luis (Porto)

Assists leader: 4 - Bruno Fernandes (Sporting)

Scottish Premiership

Matchday 7 - Top Results

  • Hibernian 1-1 Celtic
  • Rangers 5-0 Aberdeen
  • St. Johnstone 0-1 Motherwell

Top four: Celtic (19), Rangers (18), Motherwell (13), Aberdeen (11)

Scoring leader: 6 - Jermain Defoe (Rangers) / Ryan Christie (Celtic)

Assists leader: 4 - James Forrest (Celtic)

Mexican Liga MX

Matchday 11 Results

  • Queretaro 1-2 Necaxa
  • Tigres 0-1 Puebla
  • Leon 1-1 Atlas
  • Guadalajara 2-4 Pachuca
  • Santos 5-0 Veracruz
  • Juarez 1-1 Club America
  • Cruz Azul 1-1 Monterrey
  • Tijuana 3-2 Monarcas
  • Toluca 3-1 Atletico San Luis

Matchday 12 Results

  • Puebla 2-1 Leon
  • Atlas 2-0 Queretaro
  • Pachuca 2-0 Cruz Azul
  • Necaxa 0-0 Juarez
  • Monterrey 0-2 Tigres
  • Club America 4-1 Guadalajara
  • Pumas 2-0 Santos
  • Atletico San Luis 2-3 Tijuana
  • Veracruz 1-1 Toluca

Top Eight: 1. Santos Laguna (23), 2. Necaxa (21), 3. Club America (21), 4. Leon (19), 5. Pachuca (18), 6. Queretaro (18), 7. Tigres (17), 8. Pumas (17)

Scoring leader: 8 - Julio Furch (Santos)

Assists leader: 8 - Miller Bolanos (Tijuana)

Liga MX clubs Tigres UANL and Santos will face off in a club friendly in Houston during the October FIFA International window. Tickets on sale at BBVAStadium.com

Liga MX Femenil

Matchday 13 Results

  • Necaxa 0-1 Queretaro
  • Juarez 1-2 UANL
  • Atlas 2-2 Cruz Azul
  • UNAM 1-1 Monarcas
  • Veracruz 1-1 Guadalajara
  • America 2-1 Pachuca
  • Santos 0-0 Puebla
  • Atletico San Luis 1-2 Leon
  • Tijuana 2-1 Toluca

Top Eight: 1. Monterrey (30), 2. Pachuca (26), 3. Tigres (25), 4. Guadalajara (23), 5. Atlas (21), 6. America (21), 7. Tijuana (21), 8. Monarcas (18)

Scoring leader: 13 - Mónica Monsiváis (Monterrey)

Argentina Superliga

Matchday 8 Results

  • Aldosivi 1-2 Union
  • Patronato 1-1 Lanus
  • Arsenal 3-0 Estudiantes
  • Gimnasia 0-2 River Plate
  • Boca 1-1 Newells
  • Banfield 0-1 San Lorenzo
  • Huracan 0-0 Atletico Tucuman
  • Velez 0-1 Defensa y Justicia
  • Rosario Central 1-1 Racing Club
  • Independiente 3-2 Talleres Cordoba
  • Cordoba 1-0 Godoy Cruz
  • Colon 1-0 Argentinos Juniors

Top four: Boca (18), San Lorenzo (16), Talleres Cordoba (16), Arsenal Sarandi (15)

Scoring leader: 4 - Bruno Pitton (San Lorenzo) / Nicolas Dominguez (Velez)

Assists leader: 3 - Mathias Abero Villan (Patronato)

Argentina Female

The first matchday in Argentina's female football featured the first Boca vs. River matchup of the professional era.

Matchday 1 Results

  • Villa 1-5 Rosario Central
  • Gimnasia 2-0 Huracan
  • Platense 1-5 Racing Club
  • Estudiantes 3-1 Belgrano
  • SAT 1-0 El Porvenir
  • Boca Juniors 5-0 River Plate
  • Lanus 1-3 San Lorenzo
  • Urquiza 2-1 Independiente

Top four: SAT (3), Boca Juniors (3) Racing Club (3), Rosario Central (3)

TV listings (All Times CT):

Tuesday, October 1

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Real Madrid vs. Club Brugge (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

1:45 p.m. - [English Championship] Leeds vs. West Bromwich (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Tottenham vs. Bayern Munich (TNT, Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Juventus vs. Bayer Leverkusen (UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Galatasaray vs. PSG (B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Atletico Madrid (B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Manchester City vs. Dinamo Zagreb (B/R Live)

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

Wednesday, October 2

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Slavia Prague vs. Borussia Dortmund (TNT, Galavision)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Genk vs. Napoli (UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] FC Barcelona vs. Inter Milan (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Liverpool vs. Salzburg (Galavision, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] RB Leipzig vs. Lyon (B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Valencia vs. Ajax (B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Lille vs. Chelsea (B/R Live)

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

Thursday, October 3

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] AZ Alkmaar vs. Manchester United (TUDN, B/R Live)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Feyenoord vs. Porto (Galavision, B/R Live)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Wolfsburg vs. Roma (B/R Live)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Besiktas vs. Wolves (UniMas, B/R Live)

12:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Young Boys vs. Rangers (B/R Live)

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

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Sporting CP vs. LASK (Galavision, B/R Live)

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

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Rosenborg vs. PSV Eindhoven (B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Celtic vs. Cluj (B/R Live)

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Will the Astros ever give Joey Loperfido a chance to fix the black hole at first base? Composite Getty Image.

So how long do you suppose the Astros will cling to the ludicrous notion that Jose Abreu will return to being a sustainably decent hitter (much less a good hitter)? The All-Star break? The trade deadline July 30? The day the Astros are eliminated from the playoff race? End of the season? End of his contract at the end of next season? Maybe they sign him to a two-year extension?

Since rejoining the team Abreu has played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. He has seven hits in 42 at bats for a .167 batting average. That’s only not horrible in comparison to the sub-pathetic .099 mark Abreu had when hiatus time arrived. Since returning, Abreu has walked once. If you remember or are familiar with Susan Powter you know what comes next. STOP THE INSANITY!

Kyle Tucker’s absence obviously punches a big hole in the Astros’ lineup. Still, that regularly running out Jeremy Pena in the cleanup or fifth spot in the lineup doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, is ridiculous! Pena has been abysmal for the last month. May 11 he put up his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. In 29 games since, Pena has added one more homer with an anemic on-base percentage of .238. Not batting average, OBP. Yuck. All teams solicit All-Star votes for non-worthy guys. Pena plays in the same league as Gunnar Henderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Corey Seager, and Anthony Volpe. Hyping Pena for the All-Star game is plain ol’ silly.

Jon Singleton ever slotting in the lineup fourth or fifth, sigh. He of one homer and 28 strikeouts in his last 79 at bats. It’s just a sad state of affairs that no one below Pena or Singleton in the lineup should obviously be higher in the lineup. Mauricio Dubon, Victor Caratini, Trey Cabbage are all bottom third of the lineup if in the lineup type guys. Chas McCormick seemingly losing almost all of his hitting ability has hurt. Yainer Diaz stinking for much more of the season to date than he’s been good has hurt.

The refusal to try Joey Loperfido at first base is somewhere from perplexing to stupid. Look, Loperfido is not an elite prospect. His poor contact skills may doom him from becoming a quality regular. But find out! He struck out a bunch in his first taste but also hit .333. The low upside of the Abreu-Singleton combo is obvious. Evidently to just about all but Astros’ decision makers. Going with Trey Cabbage over Loperfido in the outfield also underwhelms.

Chasing down the Mariners?

It could all still turn for the better, but the Astros are at increasing risk of fading to oblivion behind Seattle in the American League West race. They deserve to be 31-38. They have a losing record at home, they have a losing record on the road. They have a losing record in day games, they have a losing record in night games. They are 7-14 in games against left-handed starting pitchers, they are 24-24 (hey, .500, yippee!) vs. right-handed starters. It would take a serious collapse to fall entirely out of the Wild Card race before the trade deadline, but the Astros are flirting with danger there too. They have to leapfrog several teams to get to the third Wild Card position, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. This doesn’t seem to be a good weekend to gain ground on them. Not that A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers visiting Minute Maid Park this weekend are anything special, though in Friday night’s series opener the Astros face the arguably best starting pitcher in the big leagues this season (Tarik Skubal). But the Twins have four games at home against the lowly Oakland A’s.

If Minnesota is not to overtake Kansas City and Cleveland to win the AL Central, you know Carlos Correa would love to make the playoffs at his ex-team’s expense. Wednesday Correa banged out the first five-hit game of his career. It’s pretty amazing that Jose Altuve has never had a five-hit game given how great a hitter he’s been and the relatively few walks he’s drawn. Sunday in Anaheim, Altuve racked up his 39th four-hit game. Remember, last September, Altuve hit five home runs over seven innings that overlapped two games against the Texas Rangers.

George Springer is the lone Astro ever to rack up six hits in a game, doing so at Oakland in 2018. So far this month, Springer is six for 40. Springer has two seasons left after this one on the six-year 150 million dollar contract he signed with Toronto. At 34 years old he is playing as if washed up. 2023 was the worst season of Springer’s career and he has fallen off a cliff from there thus far in 2024. Springer is batting .198 with his OPS at a sickly .582.

There is only one player in the modern era (1900 forward) of Major League Baseball to amass seven hits in a nine-inning game. In 1975 Rennie Stennett went seven for seven at Wrigley Field in a Pittsburgh Pirates 22-0 obliteration of the Chicago Cubs. The “Bleacher Bums” must have had fun that day.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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