THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer Recap: Houston Dynamo send off U.S. legend Beasley with win; four unbeaten in Europe's top leagues

Houston Dynamo supporters bid farewell to DaMarcus Beasley with a tifo comemorating his career. Courtesy: Houston Dynamo

The 2019 Major League Soccer season has come to an end and will commence after the upcoming FIFA International break. In Europe, four teams in the top five leagues have reached the break with an unbeaten record in league play. Here are the top stories from the week:

Major League Soccer

All 14 playoff spots are accounted for in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs (see standings below). With every match played simultaneously on Sunday, there was also plenty of drama in the golden boot race - won by LAFC's Carlos Vela with an MLS record 34 goals.

The Houston Dynamo sent off U.S. Men's National Team Legend DaMarcus Beasley with a 4-2 win over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy. Beasley is the only player to have featured in four FIFA World Cup tournaments for the USA and also enjoyed time at historic European clubs like PSV, Rangers and Manchester City.

Final Standings

East: 1. y - NYCFC (64), 2. x - Atlanta (58), 3. x - Philadelphia (55), 4. x - Toronto (50), 5. x - D.C. United (50), 6. x - NY Red Bulls (48), 7. x - New England (45), 8. Chicago (42), 9. Montreal (41), 10. Columbus (38), 11. Orlando (37), 12. Cincinnati (24)

West: 1. s - LAFC (72), 2. x - Seattle (56), 3. x - Real Salt Lake (53), 4. x - Minnesota (53), 5. x - LA Galaxy (51), 6. x - Portland (49), 7. x - Dallas (48), 8. San Jose (44), 9. Colorado (42), 10. Houston (40), 11. Kansas City (38), 12. Vancouver (34)

Golden Boot: 34 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Most Assists: 20 - Maxi Morales (NYCFC)

National Women's Soccer League

Only one match took place in league play due to the FIFA International window in the women's game - the Washington Spirit won 3-0 over last place Orlando. The Houston Dash, meanwhile, took their "off" week to travel down to Monterrey, Mexico to take on Liga MX Femenil side Tigres. Kealia Ohai scored in the opening minutes but, after many Dash changes at halftime, the Mexican champions would end up winning 2-1 after two second half goals.

Standings: 1. s - North Carolina Courage (46), 2. x - Chicago Red Stars (44), 3. x - Portland Thorns (39), 4. x - Reign FC (37), 5. Washington Spirit (33), 6. Utah Royals (31), 67. 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 8 Results

  • Brighton 3-0 Tottenham
  • Norwich 1-5 Aston Villa
  • Watford 0-0 Sheffield Utd
  • Burnley 1-0 Everton
  • Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City
  • West Ham 1-2 Crystal Palace
  • Southampton 1-4 Chelsea
  • Manchester City 0-2 Wolves
  • Arsenal 1-0 Bournemouth
  • Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United

Top six: Liverpool (24), Man City (16), Arsenal (15), Leicester City (14),Chelsea (14), Crystal Palace (14)

Scoring leader: 8 - Sergio Aguero (Man City) / Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)

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

Spanish La Liga

Top six: Real Madrid (18), FC Barcelona (16), Atletico Madrid (15), Granada (14), Real Sociedad (13), Sevilla (13)

Scoring leader: 6 - Gerard Moreno (Villareal) / Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) / Lorenzo Garica (Real Betis)

Assists leader: 3 - Several players tied

German Bundesliga

Top six: Monchengladbach (16), Wolfburg (15), Bayern Munich (14), Freiburg (14), RB Leipzig (14), Schalke 04 (14)

Scoring leader: 11 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 5 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: Juventus (19), Inter Milan (18), Atalanta (16), Napoli (13), Roma (12), Lazio (11)

Scoring leader: 7 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 5 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top six: PSG (21), Nantes (19), Angers (16), Bordeaux (15), Lille (15), Reims (14)

Scoring leader: 7 - Victor Osimhen (Lille)

Assists leader: 5 - Islam Slimani (Monaco) / Yoann Court (Brest)

Netherlands Eredivisie

Top four: Ajax (23), PSV (23), AZ Alkmaar (20), Vitesse (20)

Scoring leader: 10 - Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven)

Assists leader: 8 - Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

Mexican Liga MX

Top Eight: 1. Necaxa (24), 2. Santos Laguna (23), 3. Queretaro (21), 4. Club America (21), 5. Leon (20), 6. Tigres UANL (20), 7. Pachuca (18), 8. Pumas (18)

Scoring leader: 8 - Julio Furch (Santos) / Mauro Quiroga (Necaxa)

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

Argentina Superliga

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)

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The Astros are World Series champions again! Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Finally, the Commissioner’s Trophy has come back to Houston.

It seems like eons ago since the ending of the 2017 season when Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager grounded a ball to right straight to Jose Altuve, who scooped it up and sent it to Yuli Gurriel for the final out and clinched the franchise’s first championship.

Inside a capacity crowd at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, the Houston Astros made history once again. This time it was a fly out to right field towards foul territory, and it was Kyle Tucker, who caught the ball that clinched the Commissioner’s Trophy for the 2022 Astros.

Houston defeated Philadelphia 4-1 in Game Six, and it won the series 4-2. The Astros are once again the undisputed best team in all of Major League Baseball. Dusty Baker finally got his first World Series trophy as a manager, and shortstop Jeremy Peña was named the World Series MVP to cap off his incredible rookie season.

Game Six did not come without some anxiety. Like it was throughout the entire postseason, the game took Houston supporters through a roller coaster of emotions. Both starting pitchers in Framber Valdez for the Astros and Zack Wheeler for the Phillies went into the sixth inning having pitched a shutout.

At the top of the sixth, it was Philadelphia left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who erased the goose egg on the board for the Phillies with a solo home run. The brief lead for the Phillies made the heart of Astros fans begin to pound a little faster with the memory of the 2019 World Series not too far behind, but that feeling of dread was erased almost instantly in the bottom of the sixth inning.

First it was catcher Martin Maldonado that got on base after he was hit by a pitch. Second baseman Jose Altuve forced the Phillies to get Maldonado out on a ground ball, but he managed to beat out the throw at first to avoid disaster.

Then the rookie sensation, Peña, delivered a single into the outfield that sent Altuve to third and set the stage for Yordan Alvarez.

On a 2-1 count with Phillies reliever Seranthony Domínguez seeking to keep the Astros at bay, Alvarez swung his bat and connected to launch the ball over center field. Just like that, the Astros led 3-1, and Minute Maid Park became a madhouse.

Alex Bregman followed by drawing a walk, and after Kyle Tucker struck out, it was Christian Vázquez that brought Bregman home with a sharp line drive. Bregman had advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch by Domínguez that J. T. Realmuto could not contain.

The celebration on Saturday night will forever hold a special feeling for Houston fans and the Astros alike. The 2017 trophy represented a light for the city that had just been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey months prior. The 2022 trophy represents justification that the Astros are just that good and have built a dynasty that keeps chugging along.

The 2018 Astros lost in the American League Championship Series. The 2019 Astros saw a championship slip through their fingers, and then the sign-stealing scandal broke headlines.

2020 saw turnover with the hiring of Dusty Baker and James Click, and the Astros once again fell short in the ALCS. The 2021 Astros said goodbye to George Springer, and then ran into a buzz saw in the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

The 2022 Astros said goodbye to an old friend in Carlos Correa. And yet, were able to not skip a beat with the rise of Peña, who put together an incredible regular and postseason. But the 2022 Astros were much more than just one player.

There was Cristian Javier, who was thrust into a hostile Philadelphia crowd down 2-1 and the season on the line. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher’s cool, calm and collected personality gave the Astros composure and shifted the series. Javier pitched six innings, striking out nine batters and giving up 0 hits.

Javier’s work was followed by Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly, who carried on the no-hitter and became just the second team in the history of the World Series to pitch a no-hitter.

In Game 5, Peña got Houston on the board first, and then became the first rookie to ever hit a home run in the Fall Classic. A stellar defensive play by Trey Mancini and the play of the series made by Chas McCormick, robbing Realmuto from guaranteed extra bases, helped put the Astros in position to close the game.

There was also Justin Verlander, who entering Game 5 was seeking his first ever World Series win. He not only got that, but pitched a heck of a game, allowing the high-powered Phillies offense to only score one run just days after they had put five on him at Minute Maid Park.

Everyone knows the story of Álvarez against the Seattle Mariners that helped launch Houston’s run. It was fitting that he sparked the rally in Game Six. Even though multiple players struggled at different times throughout much of the postseason, Houston just kept winning.

Now that it is all said and done. Nothing else matters. The 2022 Houston Astros have many new faces. For Altuve, Gurriel, Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr. and Bregman, the World Series victory can certainly be viewed as a redemption story, but this year’s team was so much more than that. They were a team in every sense of the word.

The 2022 Astros were resilient. The 2022 Astros were motivated. Fueled by past failures, new faces, and a will to make history, Houston did just that.

One more time. The 2022 World Series Champions—your Houston Astros

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