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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Houston drops first of three

Mariners heat up late to take series opener over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With the playoffs just a little over a week away, the Astros started their last week of regular-season games in Seattle against the Mariners. A couple of wins against them would secure Houston's spot as the AL West's second playoff participant, with Oakland all but having locked up the first spot sitting six games in front of Houston with seven left to play. Here is a quick rundown of the opener from T-Mobile Park:

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 1.

Record: 27-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (7-2, 3.06 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA).

Bitter end to an impressive start for McCullers Jr.

Both starting pitchers would take a scoreless deep late into Monday night's game. While the Astros were trying to figure out Marco Gonzalez, Lance McCullers Jr. was repeating the success of his last start, a seven-inning two-hit start against the Rangers.

McCullers Jr. allowed a two-out walk in the bottom of the first inning, then proceeded to retire the next fourteen batters before a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Mariners their first hit of the night. He would go on to finish the sixth before things unraveled in the seventh.

A leadoff walk would result in a run after an error by Jose Altuve left runners on first and second, setting up an RBI-double to give the Mariners the first run of the night and a 1-0 lead. McCullers Jr. looked like he was going to cap off his night by stranding the runners on second and third after back-to-back strikeouts, but before he could get the last out of the inning allowed a three-run home run to blow the game open at 4-0. His final line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Mariners take the opener

Despite getting several hits against him along the way, Houston could not get anything substantial going against Gonzalez, who would shutout the Astros over eight innings of work. After Enoli Paredes finished the seventh, Brandon Bielak would take over out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth.

He struggled mightily, loading the bases with no outs, including a hit batter before allowing a two-RBI single to extend Seattle's lead to 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the top of the ninth, getting a two-out double by Carlos Correa, who would score on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick. That would be too little, too late as the 6-1 score would go final as the Mariners took the opener, keeping the Astros' magic number at two.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will be another 8:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. On the mound will be Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA) for the Astros and Ljay Newsome (0-1, 6.35 ERA) for the Mariners.

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