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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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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