THE SOCCER REPORT

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

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

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 Dynamowho 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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Who gets sent down when Jose Abreu returns to the team? Composite Getty Image.

Hey, it’s not my money, why should I care?

All indications point to Jose Abreu and his albatross contract rejoining the Houston Astros early next week. Abreu will be inserted into the lineup, at least on a platoon basis, with lefty Jon Singleton, and given “every opportunity” to regain the form that won him an American League MVP in 2020.

But how long does “every opportunity” last? Of course fans (more so Astros owner Jim Crane) hope that Abreu’s return is successful and he is once again a productive Major League power hitter, like when he led the American League in RBI in 2019.

What if he goes 0-4, 1-4, 0-2 (his batting average when he left the Astros three weeks ago) his first week back and the Astros struggle? What if Abreu, as many suspect, is washed?

What then? It’s believed that owner Crane is loathe to cut bait on Abreu and eat the remainder of the $58.5 million contract he signed before last season – which would be about $34 million with nothing to show for it.

On April 30, the day Abreu was dispatched to West Palm Beach instructional camp to find his long-lost swing, the Astros were 10-19, dead last in the American League West.

Since Abreu’s departure, the Astros have gone 12-8 and moved into third place trailing the first place Mariners by only five games and the second place Rangers by a mere two games. Simply, the Astros have a shot at making the playoffs.

Singleton has taken advantage of inheriting the starting first base job. He’s hitting .229 with five homers and 14 RBI – including a mammoth shot into the Minute Maid Park batting eye Tuesday night in the Astros 6-5 win over the Angels.

This week outfielder Chas McCormick returned from injury and the Astros sent infielder Trey Cabbage down to Sugar Land.

What’s going to happen when Abreu is back? Who is on the chopping block? Astros general manager Dana Brown suggested, or at least raised the possibility, that Joey Loperfido could be demoted to Sugar Land so he can play every day and cut down on his strikeouts.

Joey is a fan favorite. How you doin’? Almost a month after leaving the Sugar Land Space Cowboys for the Astros, he’s still tied for the home run lead in the Pacific Coast League. If Loperfido is sacrificed to make room for Abreu, it won’t sit well with fans.

Dana Brown and manager Joe Espada are fond of saying “look at the back of his baseball card” when defending Abreu.

OK, let’s do that.

Abreu, 37, is batting .099 with no home runs and three RBI in 77 plate appearances.

Loperfido, 25, is batting .333 with one home run and five RBI in 43 plate appearances.

Seen enough?

Abreu spent the last three weeks in Florida trying to regain his stroke. In four games in the Gulf Coast League, he went 6-for-18 for a .333 batting average. The Gulf Coast League is rookie-level. It’s the lowest-rung of minor league baseball in North America.

Sending a big leaguer to the Gulf Coast League to rediscover his batting form is like sending a PGA golfer to play goony golf at Chuck E. Cheese to improve his putting.

Again, everybody hopes that the Astros are getting the Abreu of old. There’s a chance he could just be old.









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