ON THE PITCH
Soccer Recap: New U.S. Soccer President, Donovan debuts in Liga MX and Aguero scores four
The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday and team's that will feature in the round of 16 did their best to arrive in their best form. South of the border, Landon Donovan officially exits retirement with his first minutes with Club Leon. This was the week in soccer:
English Premier League
The weekend in England started with the North London Derby, a 1-nil result for Tottenham that was decided by Harry Kane’s 49th minute goal. Kane extended his season tally to 23 goals but Mohamed Salah would not be left behind as he scored one himself - bringing his season total to 22 - in Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Southampton. Sergio Aguero decided he would also like a crack at the golden boot by bringing his season total to 21, thanks to his four goal performance in Manchester City’s 5-1 thrashing of Leicester City. Other notable goalscorers this weekend where Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who scored the game-winner in West Ham’s 2-0 win over Watford, and Matt Ritchie, responsible for Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Manchester United. American DeAndre Yedlin went full ninety at right back for Newcastle.
Everton, Swansea and Huddersfield where the other teams with wins this weekend. U.S. midfielder Danny Williams was on the bench for Huddersfield in a 4-1 win over Bournemouth. Another American benched this week was Geoff Cameron in Stoke City’s 1-1 draw with Brighton. Cameron joined Glenn Davis on Soccer Matters this week in an in-depth interview where he details his experience on the U.S. men’s national team that failed to qualify for this summer’s FIFA World Cup.
Top 5: Manchester City (72), Manchester United (56), Liverpool (54), Chelsea (53), Tottenham (52)
FC Barcelona just won’t lose. The league leaders had a close call at home against Getafe this week but ultimately held on for a scoreless draw. With Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 win at Malaga, Barcelona’s lead shortens to seven - still a good bit but enough to make the league interesting. Valencia also won but they are too far back to challenge for the title. One point behind them are Real Madrid who beat Real Sociedad 5-2 with a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. Villarreal was the one top five team that fell this week, 2-1 to relegation-threatened Alaves.
Top 5: FC Barcelona (59), Atletico Madrid (52), Valencia (43), Real Madrid (42), Villareal (37)
Another week, another shift in spots two through five in the Bundesliga. Of course the top of the table is all but secured by Bayern Munich who rolls on with their ninth consecutive league win, a 2-1 result over Schalke 04. RB Leipzig goes back up to second with a 2-0 win over Augsburg and Batshuayi scores again for Dortmund to move them up to third. Eintracht, Hertha Berlin, Hannover 96, Hoffenheim, Stuttgart and Werder Bremen also picked up three points this week.
Top 5: Bayern Munich (56), RB Leipzig (38), Borussia Dortmund (37), Eintracht Frankfurt (34), Bayer Leverkusen (35)
Paris Saint-Germain is another team in Europe that is riding their lead through the season. This week, an own goal is all they needed to pull out a 1-0 win over Toulouse. Second place Monaco won big, 4-0 in fact, over Angers while Marseille drew 2-2 with St. Ettiene. Nantes also drew, 2-2 against Lille, while Lyon fell 2-0 to Rennes. Despite no goals this weekend, Edinson Cavani (21), Neymar (19) and Radamel Falcao (17) continue to lead the golden boot race while Neymar holds the lead in assists with 11 this season.
Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (65), Monaco (53), Marseille (52), Lyon (48), Nantes (38)
A top five clash took place in Italy as Napoli made an example of Lazio in a 4-1 home win. Juventus, Inter Milan and Roma all picked up three points, dropping Lazio down to fifth in the table. Sampdoria (6th) and A.C. Milan (7th) also picked up wins to make the rest of the race more interesting. In Serie A, the top four advance to next year’s Champions League and the difference from third to ninth place is 12 points with 14 dates left to be played. There’s no doubt Italy has the most interesting race in all of Europe.
Top 5: Napoli (63), Juventus (62), Inter Milan (48), Roma (47), Lazio (46)
The separation is starting in the Liga MX standings and Pumas is proving to look like a playoff club. Pumas UNAM took a 2-1 win at Morelia while Club America took a 1-1 draw at Tigres UANL. The two Mexico City clubs are the only undefeated sides left and, rightfully so, are one and two in the standings. Monterrey lost their undefeated status at Toluca in a 2-1 loss that saw one of their marquee players, Aviles Hurtado, red carded. Santos Laguna jumped back into the top five after a 2-0 win over a Guadalajara team that continues to hang near the bottom of the table. Veracruz - the leader in the relegation table - lost 1-0 to Pachuca while two other clubs fighting off relegation faced off, with Lobos BUAP winning 3-1 over Atlas.
Landon Donovan made his Liga MX debut by playing in his first professional match in over a year. Donovan entered the game in the 83rd minute and almost picked up an assist as Leon held on to win 2-1 over Puebla. Fellow former MLS All-Star Erick Torres also debuted this week, entering the game in the 84th wn in Pumas’ win. In other scores, Queretaro won 2-0 at Tijuana and Necaxa won 2-0 at Cruz Azul. In U20 action, former Dynamo midfielder Christian Lucatero started and played 55 mins in a 1-0 loss at Cruz Azul U20.
On a side note, Leon announced the first date of their 2018 U.S. tour on Monday. They'll visit the San Jose Earthquakes - the club where Donovan won his first two MLS Cups - on March 24.
Top 5: Pumas UNAM (14), Club America (12), Monterrey (11), Santos (11), Morelia (10)
The start of the 2018 Major League Soccer season is only two weeks away, but the action begins next week for teams participating in the CONCACAF Champions League. FC Dallas faced two Central American opponents this week in an effort to better prepare themselves for Panamanian side Tauro FC, their opponent in the round of 16. FCD has also kept their reserves busy by facing them off against USL opposition. MLS Champions Toronto FC took a trip to Mexico City to face off against Club America (6-3 loss) and the Mexican Navy (2-0 loss). In Tennessee, Nashville SC (joining MLS in 2019 or 2020) played their first ever match in a 3-1 loss to Atlanta United.
Locally, the Houston Dynamo essentially had an off-week as it came to friendlies and held a intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Good news came midweek with the return of Romell Quioto to training after missing almost two weeks due to flu-like symptoms. The team arrived in Tucson on Monday ahead of their “spring training” in Arizona but before that, Alberth Elis was a special guest at the Rockets-Mavs game on Sunday night where he met James Harden and Chris Paul. The Dynamo will play friendlies on Wednesday and Saturday, both streamed online.
U.S. Soccer Election
It was a weekend of change as a new President of the United States Soccer Federation was elected over the weekend. Carlos Cordeiro, the federation’s former Vice President, gained the majority decision on the third round of voting. He becomes the first Hispanic president but his former ties to Sunil Gulati, who served as the federation’s president since 2006, left many fans feeling like it would be more of the same. Cordeiro is a former Goldman Sachs executive - namely with their Asia division - and is expected to soon name a new “general manager” type of role for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.
The federation on Monday announced three friendlies for this year, March 27 vs. Paraguay in Cary, North Carolina, June 2 at Ireland in Dublin and June 9 at France in Lyon.
Upcoming matches (All Times CT):
Tuesday, Feb. 13:
1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Juventus vs. Tottenham (FS1/ESPN Deportes)
1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Basel vs. Manchester City (FS2)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Atlas vs. Necaxa (UniMas/Univision Deportes)
8:30 p.m. - [Liga MX] Lobos BUAP vs. Tigres (Galavision)
8:45 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club America vs. Monarcas Morelia (UniMas/Univision Deportes)
Wednesday, Feb. 14:
1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain (FS1/ESPN Deportes)
1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Porto vs. Liverpool (FS2)
3 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo (HoustonDynamo.com/live)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Queretaro vs. Guadalajara (ESPN Deportes)
Thursday, Feb. 15:
10 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Astana vs. Sporting CP (FS2)
12 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Ostersund vs. Arsenal (FS2/ESPN Deportes)
2:05 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Copenhagen vs. Atletico Madrid (FS2/ESPN Deportes)
Friday, Feb. 16:
1:45 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Monaco vs. Dijon (beIN SPORTS)
2 p.m. - [FA Cup] Chelsea vs. Hull City (FS2)
2 p.m. - [La Liga] Girona vs. Leganes (beIN SPORTS en Español)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monarcas Morelia vs. Lobos BUAP (Univision Deportes)
Saturday, Feb. 17:
6:30 a.m. - [FA Cup] Sheffield Wednesday vs. Swansea (FS1)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich (FS2/UniMas)
9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Eibar vs. FC Barcelona (beIN SPORTS/beIN SPORTS en Español)
11:30 a.m. - [FA Cup] Huddersfield vs. Manchester United (FS2)
11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Deportivo (beIN SPORTS en Español)
1:45 p.m. - [Serie A] Genoa vs. Inter Milan (beIN SPORTS)
1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Malaga vs. Valencia (beIN SPORTS en Español)
4 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew (beIN SPORTS)
5 p.m. - [Liga MX] Cruz Azul vs. Puebla (Univision)
6:30 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Charleston Battery vs. Minnesota United (beIN SPORTS)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Tigres vs. Atlas (Univision)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club Leon vs. Queretaro (ESPN Deportes)
7:15 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls (HoustonDynamo.com/live)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Guadalajara vs. Pachuca (Univision)
9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Necaxa vs. Monterrey (ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, Feb. 18:
5:30 a.m. - [Serie A] Torino vs. Juventus (beIN SPORTS/beIN SPORTS en Español)
8 a.m. - [Serie A] Napoli vs. SPAL (beIN SPORTS)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Augsburg vs. Stuttgart (FS2)
9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao (beIN SPORTS en Español)
10 a.m. - [FA Cup] Rochdale vs. Tottenham (FS1)
11 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Monchengladbach vs. Dortmund (FS2)
12 p.m. - [Liga MX] Toluca vs. Santos Laguna (Univision)
1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Betis vs. Real Madrid (beIN SPORTS/beIN SPORTS en Español)
6 p.m. - [Liga MX] Veracruz vs. Club America (Univision Deportes)
Monday, Feb. 19:
1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Frankfurt vs. RB Leipzig (FS2)
1:55 p.m. - [FA Cup] Wigan vs. Manchester City (FS1)