News that kicked off 2020

Soccer Report: Dynamo sign Academy prodigy, Dash trade Ohai, Ronaldo scores hat-trick

Credit: Houston Dynamo

"The Beautiful Game" never sleeps and that was the case to kick off the new year. The Premier League took the spotlight with New Year's Day action followed by the return of La Liga and Serie A from the holiday break.

Domestically, transfer news continue to dominate the radar in Major League Soccer and the National Women's Soccer League. The 2020 MLS SuperDraft (college draft) will take place on Thursday.

Here are the top stories of the weekend:

Houston Dynamo sign Homegrown Marcelo Palomino

Reported first by Glenn Davis, the Dynamo made the signing of Academy product Marcelo Palomino official on Monday. The midfielder joined the club's youth system as an 11-year-old in 2012 and was part of the U.S. Youth National Team pool from Under-14 to Under-19, crossing paths with current Dynamo Head Coach Tab Ramos.

The three-time Dynamo Academy Player of the Year left the club over a year ago, despite having a contract offer from the Dynamo, and went on to trials in Portugal and Germany. Most recently, he was playing in Houston with the USL2 side Albion Hurricanes FC who are coached by former MLS midfielder Josh Gardner.

Signing Palomino is a win for a club that has a reputation of not producing enough professional players in a city fervent with a soccer culture. It would appear, at least on the surface, that the hiring of Ramos was the ultimate convincing factor for the player to put pen to paper.

Liga MX GK William Yarbrough no longer a target for Dynamo

The Dynamo are no longer interested in acquiring two-time Liga MX champion and former U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper William Yarbrough, as reported by KXLN's Lester Gretsch. After failing to agree on a transfer fee for the Mexican-born keeper, the Dynamo went on to sign the Austrian-Croatian Marko Maric. The Dynamo will reportedly sign a goalkeeper in the coming weeks, according to The Athletic.

Houston Dash trade Kealia Ohai to Chicago Red Stars for defender Katie Naughton

Kealia Ohai will depart after six seasons with the Houston Dash, reportedly requesting a trade. Ohai was the club's first ever draft pick and went on to score 28 goals in 114 appearances.

"My goal is to become the very best player I could possibly be and I feel like, in order for that to happen, I need a new environment," said Ohai via her social media accounts.

Chicago Red Stars made the NWSL Playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and finished 2019 as the runners-up. The Houston Dash have never made the playoffs in their six seasons.

Dash re-sign goalscorer, FIFA Women's World Cup participant Rachel Daly

Some good news for Dash fans is the re-signing of FIFA Women's World Cup veteran Rachel Daly. Since arriving in 2016, Daly has scored 24 goals in 80 matches. The Englishwoman represented her home country at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, where the Lionesses finished as semifinalists.

The news was announced by Head Coach James Clarkson last Thursday during a fan event hosted by Keeper Notes at Pitch 25. An official announcement from the club is imminent.

Premier League

The congested scheduling continues in the Premier League as teams opened 2020 with New Year's Day action. While the league took a break over the weekend, English clubs took were active in FA Cup action.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (58), 2. Leicester City (45), 3. Man City (44), 4. Chelsea (36), 5. Man Utd (31), 6. Tottenham (30)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. Bournemouth (20), 19. Watford (19), 20. Norwich City (14)

Scoring leader: 17 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 12 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

La Liga

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are once again tied at the top after RCD Espanyol took a 2-2 result in the Barcelona derby.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (40), 2. Real Madrid (40), 3. Atletico Madrid (35), 4. Sevilla (35), 5. Real Sociedad (31), 6. Valencia (31)

Bottom three: 18. Mallorca (15), 19. Leganes (14), 20. Espanyol (11)

Scoring leader: 13 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 7 - Luis Suarez (FC Barcelona)

Italian Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to lead defending champions Juventus to a 4-0 win against Cagliari. Inter Milan, who picked up a 3-1 win at Napoli, remain at the top of the standings due to goal difference.

Top six: 1. Inter Milan (45), 2. Juventus (45), 3. Lazio (39), 4. Roma (35), 5. Atalanta (34), 6. Cagliari (29)

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

Scoring leader: 19 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 11 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

Zlatan debuts in A.C. Milan return

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was back on the pitch for the first time since his final appearance with LA Galaxy in Houston last October. The Swede came on as a substitute but could not help Milan to a win in his debut. Milan and Sampdoria played to a scoreless draw at the San Siro.

2006 FIFA World Cup Winner Daniele De Rossi retires

Roma Legend De Rossi has called time on his career after a short stint in Argentina with Boca Juniors. The Italian midfielder hangs up his boots at the age of 36 with a decorated career that includes winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

2010 FIFA World Cup Winner David Villa retires

Spanish Legend David Villa, arguably the greatest striker produced by his country, also played has called time on his career. El Guaje left in style by picking up his 15th professional trophy after winning the Emperor's Cup with Japan's Vissel Kobe. Villa won the FIFA World Cup and EURO 2008 with Spain. At the club level, he won three La Liga titles, three Copa Del Rey titles and one UEFA Champions League.

Throwback moment: Dynamo Head Coach Tab Ramos reflects on being first MLS signing

January 3rd marked 25 years since Houston Dynamo Manager Tab Ramos became the first ever signing in Major League Soccer history. Attached is a clip of his thoughts on the matter, the full interview with Glenn Davis can be seen here.

Ratings bit: Liga MX final draws top spot

TV listings (All Times CT):

For full info on soccer TV listings and streaming services in the United States, visit worldsoccertalk.com

Tuesday, January 7

2:00 p.m. - [English League Cup] Manchester United vs. Manchester City (ESPN+)

Wednesday, January 8

1:00 p.m. - [Spanish Supercopa] Real Madrid vs. Valencia (ESPN Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [English League Cup] Leicester City vs. Aston Villa (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [Coupe de la Ligue] PSG vs. St-Etienne (beINSports)

Thursday, January 9

11:00 a.m. - 2020 MLS SuperDraft (Twitter)

1:00 p.m. - [Spanish Supercopa] FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid (ESPN Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Torino vs. Genoa (ESPN+)

Friday, January 10

1:45 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Rennes vs. Marseille (beIN Sports)

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Sheffield United vs. West Ham (NBC Sports)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monarcas Morelia vs. Toluca (TUDN)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Tijuana vs. Santos Laguna (FOX Deportes)

Saturday, January 11

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

8:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Cagliari vs. AC Milan (ESPN+)

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

11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Napoli (ESPN+)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Liverpool (NBC)

1:45 p.m. - [Serie A] Inter Milan vs. Atalanta (ESPN+)

5:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Cruz Azul vs. Atlas (TUDN)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Guadalajara vs. FC Juarez (TUDN)

Sunday, January 12

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

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Aston Villa vs. Man City (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Spanish Supercopa] Real Madrid vs. Valencia vs. FC Barcelona/Atletico Madrid (ESPN Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - [Serie A] Roma vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

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J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans all-time leader in sacks (96.0), is entering his ninth season with the franchise ahead of what will certainly be an anomaly year for the NFL. Due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, there is serious doubt that the NFL will be able to play a full 16-game schedule, while others express their concern with the league's inability to play any form of football come the fall of 2020.

There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the league this coming season, which is becoming a theme for Watt's future in Houston.

The 31-year-old defensive end has two years remaining on his six-year, $100 million contract extension he signed in September of 2014. But as he prepares to embark on another year with the Texans through Zoom meetings with his teammates, a new contract is not on Watt's priority list.

"No, I don't think that's necessary," Watt told Houston reporters on Wednesday. "I fully understand and respect the situation that I'm in at the moment, and what's happened in the past few years, so I'm not gonna sit here and demand anything. I think if I went back and asked for an extension or more money, I think that would be the wrong move. I am just going out there to prove my worth and to help this team win games."

As of now, it is unsure what the future holds for Watt's career with the Texans. Should management re-sign the three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner (2012, 2014 & 2015), the question becomes: How much is Watt worth as he enters the twilight of his career? It's the subject that will be the driving force when discussing Watt's future with the team, and the segment that sparked a trade rumor of his departure to the Chicago Bears.

Although his on-field production remains extremely valuable, Watt has had a difficult time trying to stay healthy. Since 2016, he has missed 32 out of a possible 64 games due to an abundance of injuries. In 2019, Watt missed half of the season after suffering a torn pectoral during the Texans' 27-24 victory over the then-Oakland Raiders.

"My goal for every season is to do whatever possible to help this team win, and number one, that means staying healthy," he said. "You have to be on the field in order to help the team win, and then it is to play at the peak physical level I am capable of. It is just making sure I am in the best possible shape to perform that way."

Contract and injuries aside, the five-time Pro-Bowler is excited about his opportunity to play under new defensive coordinator, Anthony Weaver. During his introductory press conference two weeks ago, Weaver said Watt will remain the focal point for the Texans' defense in 2020, but acknowledged getting the future Hall of Famer through 16 games remains a hurdle.

After four seasons serving as Houston's defensive line coach, the Texans promoted Weaver to defensive coordinator in January to replace Romeo Crennel.

"I love [Anthony] Weaver... I think that he has a great mixture of knowledge of the game, experience, but also personality to be able to handle the players in the room," Watt said. "To be able to inject some fun and excitement into meetings, practice and everything, all while bringing the knowledge necessary to run a good defense."

Under the guidance of a new defensive coordinator, Weaver may be just the coach to help Watt rekindle the potential that made him an All-Pro defensive end. Regardless of the uncertainties surrounding his future at the conclusion of his contract, Watt is hoping he will have the opportunity to finish his career where it started — in Houston.

"That is a goal of mine, and this city [Houston] has been incredible to me since I got here," Watt said. "I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I certainly hope that's the case."

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