THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer Recap: Messi, Rapinoe named Ballon d'Or winners, Liga MX playoffs down to four

Lionel Messi is the only player to win six Ballon d'Or trophies. Credit: Getty Images

Messi wins record 6th Ballon d'Or, Rapinoe wins first

Lionel Messi is back on top of the men's soccer pyramid as the "best in the world" after winning the famed Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) award for the first time since 2015 - breaking a tie with Cristiano Ronaldo for most all-time with six. Ronaldo finished third in the 2019 voting with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk finishing second.

In the women's category, USA forward Megan Rapinoe was named the winner ahead of England's Lucy Bronze and fellow USA teammate Alex Morgan. It is only the second year that a Women's Ballon d'Or is awarded.

The Ballon d'Or has been awarded since 1956 by France Football magazine and is considered the standard for recognizing the world's best player, even over FIFA's annual Player of the Year award.

English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (40), 2. Leicester City (32), 3. Man City (29), 4. Chelsea (26), 5. Tottenham (20), 6. Wolves (20)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. Southampton (12), 19. Norwich City (11), 20. Watford (8)

Scoring leader: 13 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 9 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (31), 2. Real Madrid (31), 3. Sevilla (30), 4. Real Sociedad (26), 5. Athletic Bilbao (26), 6. Atletico Madrid (25)

Bottom three: 18. Celta Vigo (13), 19. Espanyol (9), 20. Leganes (6)

Scoring leader: 10 - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Assists leader: 5 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Monchengladbach (28), 2. RB Leipzig (27), 3. Schalke 04 (25), 4. Bayern Munich (24), 5. Dortmund (23), 6. Freiburg (22)

Bottom three: 16. Hertha Berlin (11), 17. Cologne (8), 18. Paderborn (5)

Scoring leader: 16 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 8 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Inter Milan (37), 2. Juventus (36), 3. Lazio (30), 4. Cagliari (28), 5. Roma (28), 6. Atalanta (25)

Bottom three: 18. Genoa (10), 19. SPAL (9), 20. Brescia (7)

Scoring leader: 17 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 9 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top four: 1. PSG (33), 2. Marseille (28), 3. Angers (24), 4. Bordeaux (23)

Bottom three: 18. Dijon (15), 19. Nimes (12), 20. Tolouse (12)

Scoring leader: 10 - Moussa Dembele (Lyon)

Assists leader: 7 - Islam Slimani (Monaco) / Yoann Court (Brest)

Liga MX Playoffs

The playoffs stage in Mexican football kicked off with the quarter-finals, a round in which all top four seeds feel over the two-leg series.

Quarterfinal results:

  • Club Leon 4-5 agg. Monarcas Morelia
  • Queretaro 2-6 agg. Necaxa
  • Santos Laguna 3-6 agg. Monterrey
  • Club America 2-4 agg. Tigres UANL

Liga MX Femenil Playoffs

The final of the female Liga MX division kicked off it's two leg series with a 1-1 draw between Monterrey rivals Tigres UANL and Rayadas in front of a league-record 41,615 attendance. The return leg is scheduled for Saturday, December 7 at Estadio BBVA.

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Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Thurs, Sept. 24 - HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33) vs. TEX: Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53)

Fri, Sept. 25 - HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78) vs. TEX: Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53)

Sat, Sept. 26 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.87)

Sun, Sept. 27 - HOU: TBD vs. TEX: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07)

STORYLINES

Season finale - The Astros will wrap up their regular season with their four game set in Arlington at the new Globe Life Field. Houston's magic number rests at two, as the Angels still have a puncher's chance. With Houston's miserable 8-20 road record, the postseason is anything but clinched.

Where's the offense? - The Astros offense has left a lot to be desired over the last few weeks, scoring more than three runs just twice in their last ten games. The bats really need to get going, especially if the team expects to do anything in the playoffs. George Springer has been the only reliable bat of late, with the performances of Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and, most of all, Jose Altuve, leaving a lot to be desired.

Playoff seeding - If the playoffs started today, the Astros would face off with their division rivals in Oakland. There's an infinite number of possibilities over the next four games, but the Astros can see themselves finish anywhere from the fifth seed to out of the playoffs entirely. Any of Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland could be first round foes depending on how the cards fall.

PREDICTION

Lance Lynn has been one of the better pitchers in the game for a few years now, Kyle Cody is an intriguing young arm with good stuff, and Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson gave the Astros fits in Houston just last week. It isn't a recipe for success for Houston. The Astros win 1 of 4, which combined with the Angels and Mariners failing to take care of business, is enough to get Houston into the playoffs.

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