Soccer recap

Soccer week in review: Dynamo draw in first game of series

The Houston Dynamo battled to a scoreless draw with Portland on Monday night. The two will finish the series on Sunday. Victor Araiza

League action heats up in Europe as the MLS Cup Playoffs began stateside. The Houston Dynamo were one of the teams that was victorious in the MLS postseason and are one of eight  left in the run for the MLS Cup. 

Premier League

Manchester City continues to hold its place at the top of the table with a 3-2 win at West Brom. Second place Manchester United built some distance with a 1-0 home win over third place Tottenham, while Chelsea and Arsenal kept pace with wins of their own. Everton, with a 2-0 loss at Leicester City, has fallen to the relegation zone for the moment.

Top 5: Manchester City (28), Manchester United (23), Tottenham (20), Chelsea (19), Arsenal (19)

La Liga

Barcelona and Valencia obtained wins, which keep them at the top of Spain’s top flight. While that sounds like clockwork, a win was hard to come by for Atletico Madrid (draw at Villarreal) and Real Madrid, who was upset at Girona. Sevilla, meanwhile, jumped into the top five.

The 5: Barcelona (28), Valencia (24), Real Madrid (20), Atlético Madrid (20) and Sevilla (19).

Bundesliga

Bayern Munich has taken over the top of the table by way of two important results. A 2-0 win over Leipzig would’ve been a big win on it’s own, but Dortmund continues to struggle and this weekend fell 4-2 at Hannover 96. Looking back, this may be the week that decided the league during the 2017 season. Dortmund will have something to say about that this week when they host Bayern.

Top 5: Bayern Munich (23), Dortmund (20), RB Leipzig (19), Hannover 96 (18), Schalke 04 (17).

Ligue 1

Edinson Cavani scored twice to lift PSG 3-0 over Nice. Neymar did not play as he served his suspension from a red card in the previous game. Monaco continue to string wins together again and follow behind PSG, and Lyon are on their tail as they won 2-0 over Metz. Marseille follow close behind in fourth with a win at Lille, Nantes dropped points at Dijon.

Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (29), Monaco (25), Lyon (22), Marseille (21), Nantes (20).

Serie A

The stellar match of the weekend was between Italian giants AC Milan and Juventus, as Juve picked up a 2-0 win in Milan. Roma picked up a 1-0 win over Bologna as they prepare to face Chelsea in the Champions League. Napoli also has an important UCL match coming up midweek but took care of business against Sassuolo to stay at the top in Italy.

The top 5: Napoli (31), Inter Milan (29), Juventus (28), Lazio (28), Roma (24)

Major League Soccer

The MLS Cup Playoffs got underway midweek with the elimination of four teams: Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City. That set up the conference semis to be Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls, New York City FC vs. Columbus Crew, Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps.

Only Toronto - the favorite to win it all - was able to take a result from the first leg over the weekend, leaving much to play for on Thursday and Sunday. Locally, the Houston Dynamo’s 0-0 draw with the Timbers mean a Dynamo goal would force Porland into a win, while any tie that isn’t scoreless will also see them through to the next round.

MVP of the Week - Vicente Sánchez

The ageless wonder Vicente Sánchez has been a savior for the Houston Dynamo. The oldest guy on the team at 37 years old, Sánchez is no longer the breakout star he was when he was scoring goals by the bucket in Mexico. Even with limited minutes, Sánchez has been a difference maker for the Dynamo with his ability, leadership and experience. Without him, the Dynamo don’t finish the push for a playoff spot and his nifty footwork was the difference in creating the goal that won the game against Sporting Kansas City to help the Dynamo advance to the conference semis.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Oct. 31:

2:30 p.m.- Manchester United vs. Benfica (FS1)

2:30 p.m.- Roma vs. Chelsea (FS2/FOX Deportes Facebook)

2:30 p.m.- FC Barcelona vs Olympiacos FC (FOX Sports Facebook)

Wednesday, Nov. 1:

2:30 p.m.- Tottenham vs. Real Madrid (FS1)

2:30 p.m.- Napoli vs. Manchester City (FS2)

2:30 p.m.- FC Porto vs. RB Leipzig (FOX Sports Facebook)

2:30 p.m. - Liverpool FC vs. NK Maribor (FOX Deportes Facebook)

Thursday, Nov. 2:

1 p.m. - Lyon vs. Everton (FS2)

3 p.m. - Arsenal vs. Red Star Belgrade (FS1)

3 p.m. - Lazio vs. Nice (FS2)

9:30 p.m. - Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (FS1)

Saturday, Nov. 4:

10:15 a.m. - Deportivo La Coruña vs. Atlético Madrid (BeIN Sports)

12:30 p.m. - West Ham vs. Liverpool (NBC)

12:30 p.m. - Dortmund vs. FC Bayern Munich

2:45 p.m. - FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla (BeIN Sports)

Sunday, Nov. 5:

8:15 a.m. - Manchester City vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports/Telemundo)

10:30 a.m. - Chelsea vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports/Telemundo)

1:45 p.m. - Real Madrid vs. Las Palmas (BeIN Sports)

3:05 p.m. - River Plate vs. Boca Juniors

4 p.m. - MLS Cup Playoffs [NYC vs. Columbus or Portland vs. Houston] (ESPN)

6:30 p.m. - MLS Cup Playoffs [NYC vs. Columbus or Portland vs. Houston] (FS1)

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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