THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer Recap: Suarez back-heel goal steals the show; Arsenal win first under Ljungberg

Arsenal are back in good spirits after first win in 10 matches. Credit: Adidas

Action rolls in Europe after a weekend that featured the Manchester Derby, only to be followed by the end of the UEFA Champions League group stage and a pre-El Clasico La Liga weekend. This week also features the start of the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup.

Off the field, the draw to determine the quarterfinal matchups of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League took place in Mexico CIty on Monday night. The tournament will kick off in February and crown a new champion in May to determine the region's representative in the 2020 Club World Cup.

Major League Soccer clubs in the CCL will begin their preseason on January 11, one week before the rest of the league.

English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (46), 2. Leicester City (38), 3. Man City (32), 4. Chelsea (29), 5. Man Utd (24), 6. Wolves (24)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. Southampton (15), 19. Norwich City (11), 20. Watford (9)

Scoring leader: 16 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

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

Spanish La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (34), 2. Real Madrid (34), 3. Sevilla (31), 4. Real Sociedad (27), 5. Getafe (27), 6. Athletic Bilbao (26)

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

Scoring leader: 12 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 6 - Rodrigo (Valencia)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Monchengladbach (31), 2. RB Leipzig (30), 3. Dortmund (26), 4. Schalke 04 (25), 5. Freiburg (25), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (25)

Bottom three: 16. Fortuna (12), 17. Paderborn (8), 18. Cologne (8)

Scoring leader: 16 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 9 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Inter Milan (38), 2. Juventus (36), 3. Lazio (33), 4. Cagliari (29), 5. Roma (29), 6. Atalanta (28)

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

Scoring leader: 17 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 11 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top four: 1. PSG (39), 2. Marseille (34), 3. Lille (28), 4. Rennes (27)

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

Scoring leader: 11 - Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

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

Liga MX Playoffs

Monterrey and Club America each punched their ticket to the Liga MX Apertura 2019 final over the weekend. The two will have to wait until Monterrey are done with the FIFA Club World Cup participation to resume the playoffs on Dec. 26.

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
Semifinal results:
  • Necaxa 1-3 agg. Monterrey
  • Club America 2-2 agg. Monarcas Morelia, America advance on higher seed tiebreaker
Final schedule:
  • First leg: Dec. 26 at Estadio BBVA, Monterrey
  • Second leg: Dec. 29 at Estadio Azteca, Mexico

Liga MX Femenil Final

Monterrey's female team, "Rayadas," lifted their first Liga MX Femenil title after a 1-0 win over rivals Tigres UANL in the second leg of the final, 2-1 on aggregate. The series drew an attendance of 41,615 in the first leg on Nov. 29 and 38,251 in Sunday's second leg.

TV listings (All Times CT):

Tuesday, December 10

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] RB Salzburg vs. Liverpool (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Napoli vs. Genk (Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Inter Milan vs. FC Barcelona (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Ajax vs. Valencia (Galavision)

Wednesday, December 11

11:30 a.m. - [FIFA Club World Cup / Playoff] Al Sadd vs. Hienghène (FS2, FOX Deportes)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Dinamo Zagreb vs. Man City (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Atalanta (Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Brugge vs. Real Madrid (UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Bayer Leverkusen vs. Juventus (TNT, Galavision)

Thursday, December 12

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Standard Liege vs. Arsenal (UniMas)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] APOEL vs. Sevilla (TUDN)

11:55 a.m. - [UEFA Europa League] LASK vs. Sporting CP (Galavision)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Manchester United vs. AZ Alkmaar (UniMas)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Wolves vs. Besiktas (TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Porto vs. Feyenoord (Galavision)

Friday, December 13

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. FC Augsburg (FS2, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Leganes (beIN SPORTS en Español)

Saturday, December 14

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

8:00 a.m. - [FIFA Club World Cup / Quarterfinal] Al-Hilal vs. ES Tunis (FOX Soccer Plus, FOX Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. SV Werder Bremen (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz 05 vs. Borussia Dortmund (FS2, TUDN)

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

9:00 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [FIFA Club World Cup / Quarterfinal] Monterrey vs. Al Sadd or Hienghène (FS2)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Southampton vs. West Ham (NBC)

1:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Osasuna (beIN SPORTS)

Sunday, December 15

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

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (FS1)

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke 04 vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (FS1)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Valencia vs. Real Madrid (beIN SPORTS)

Monday, December 16

6:00 a.m. - Draw for UEFA Champions League and Europa League knockout stage (UEFA.com, B/R Live)

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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