THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer suspended worldwide by Coronavirus

The newly renamed BBVA Stadium. Photo courtesy of BBVA

In the span of a week, "the world's game" went from business as usual, while keeping a close eye on the Coronavirus situation, to most leagues stopping play altogether. The powers that be now look to solutions for some of the world's top competitions like the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League.

UPDATE: Both the UEFA EURO (European Championship) and CONMEBOL Copa America (South American Championship), the two most renowned international tournaments after the FIFA World Cup, announced the postponement of their 2020 editions on Tuesday. Both tournaments will now be played in the Summer of 2021.


Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) also annnounced the suspension of it's international competitons, most importantly the Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament in late March. No announcement has been made yet as to what the fate will be for the Concacaf Nations League, the semifinals of which are scheduled to take place this June in Houston.

Here is the updates on the status of club football:

UEFA Champions League / Europa League

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League are suspended for the moment after due in big part to the inability of Italian teams to take part in the Round of 16 stage of either tournament. Some matches had already taken place with no spectators but the implementation of a nationwide quarantine in Italy and, subsequently, Spain have complicated the tournament to continue.

Update: UEFA hosted a videoconference with Presidents and General Secretaries of the 55 national associations, representatives of the European Club Association, European Leagues and FIFPro Europe on Tuesday to discuss the rest of the season.

The decision to postpone EURO 2020, and the colaboration for Copa America to do the same, was made to clear the schedule during the summer for club competitions. Now it's a wait and see but there is optimism to resume play as early as April and finish in late June or July.

CONMEBOL Libertadores / Copa Sudamericana

South America's club championships are on hold for the time being and will also benefit from the Copa America suspension to have a clear schedule this summer.

English Premier League

The Premier League went from expecting to play the weekend schedule to doing a 180 and announcing the suspension of the league after the news broke of Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta testing positive for Coronavirus.

Spain's La Liga

German Bundesliga

Italian Serie A

French Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has set April 15th as a target date for the best case scenario to comeback from the Coronavirus hiatus. The date takes into account two weeks of training before the league resumes.

Major League Soccer

National Women's Soccer League

Liga MX / Ascenso MX/ MX Femenil

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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