THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer Recap: Liverpool win FIFA Club World Cup, Dynamo eye Liga MX goalkeeper

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The year may be winding down but the soccer schedule sure isn't. The Premier League will have the spotlight for Boxing Day while a new Liga MX champion will be crowned. Below is a list of upcoming matches plus a review of the past week in the world's most popular sport.

Liverpool FC conquer first Club World Cup title

European Champions Liverpool joined the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup with a 2-1 win in stoppage time over Concacaf Champions Monterrey in the semifinal midweek. They would close out the deal with an extra time 1-0 win over South American Champions Flamengo. Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino was the hero with the late goals in both of the matches.

Monterrey defeated Asian Champions Al-Hilal 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the third place match. Monterrey now returns to Mexico with their sights set on the Liga MX final for the Apertura 2019 season.

Liga MX talent continues immigration to MLS

Lucas Zelarayan was the latest name this week to go from a Liga MX club to Major League Soccer this offseason. The former Tigres UANL midfielder joins Columbus Crew on a reported $8 million transfer fee.

Other Liga MX to MLS moves this offseason:

  • Alan Pulido - CD Guadalajara to Sporting Kansas City (~ $9.5 million)
  • Lucas Cavalini - Puebla to Vancouver Whitecaps FC ($6 million)
Among the transfer season hot stove between the two leagues are the Houston Dynamo who have shown interest in former U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper William Yarbrough, a two-time Liga MX champion with Club Leon. The move would reunite the Mexican-born goalie with new Dynamo coach Tab Ramos, a former USMNT assistant under Jurgen Klinsmann.

ESPN 97.5 FM host Glenn Davis has confirmed interest in the player by the Houston club, citing transfer fee negotiations as the "final hurdle." The Athletic's Jeff Reuter has added that a loan deal could be a possibility.

European Roundup

English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (49), 2. Leicester City (39), 3. Man City (38), 4. Chelsea (32), 5. Sheffield Utd (28), 6. Wolves (27)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. Aston Villa (15), 19. Norwich City (12), 20. Watford (12)

Scoring leader: 17 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 10 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (39), 2. Real Madrid (37), 3. Sevilla (34), 4. Atletico Madrid (32), 5. Real Sociedad (31), 6. Getafe (30)

Bottom three: 18. Celta Vigo (14), 19. Leganes (13), 20. Espanyol (10)

Scoring leader: 13 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 6 - Four players tied

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. RB Leipzig (37), 2. Monchengladbach (35), 3. Bayern Munich (33), 4. Dortmund (30), 5. Schalke 04 (30), 6. Bayer 04 (28)

Bottom three: 16. Fortuna (15), 17. Werder Bremen (14), 18. Paderborn (12)

Scoring leader: 19 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 11 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Inter Milan (42), 2. Juventus (42), 3. Lazio (36), 4. Roma (35), 5. Atalanta (31), 6. Cagliari (29)

Bottom three: 18. Brescia (14), 19. SPAL (12), 20. Genoa (11)

Scoring leader: 17 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 11 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top four: 1. PSG (45), 2. Marseille (38), 3. Rennes (33), 4. Lille (31)

Bottom three: 18. Amiens (17), 19. Nimes (12), 20. Toulouse (12)

Scoring leader: 13 - Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

Assists leader: 7 - Three players tied

TV listings (All Times CT):

Thursday, December 26

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Bournemouth vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)

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

7:30 p.m. - [Liga MX Final - 1st leg] Monterrey vs. Club America (FS1, FOX Deportes)

Friday, December 27

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

Saturday, December 28

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Bournemouth (NBC Sports)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Norwich vs. Tottehnam (NBC)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Burnley vs. Manchester United (NBC)

Saturday, December 29

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

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Wolves (NBC Sports)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX Final - 2nd leg] Club America vs. Monterrey (Univision, TUDN)

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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