On the pitch

Soccer weekly recap: Dynamo makes playoffs; U.S. fails in World Cup bid

Tyler Deric and the Houston Dynamo are back in the playoffs. Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The week began with some World Cup qualifiers wrapping up, and with 23 of the 32 teams now confirmed for next summer’s competition. The rest will be figured out next month as players return to their clubs.

World Cup Qualifying

The biggest surprise in qualifying came in CONCACAF where the United States failed to qualify for their first World Cup since 1986. The USA lost 2-1 at Trinidad & Tobago while Panama (2-1 over Costa Rica) and Honduras (3-2 over Mexico) both won at home. The results mean Panama qualifies directly to their first World Cup while Honduras will play a playoff series next month against Australia.

Lionel Messi scored his first hat-trick in CONMEBOL qualifying to send Argentina to the World Cup, helping his country to a 3-1 win in Ecuador. Peru and Colombia drew one apiece, assuring Peru the playoff against New Zealand while Colombia goes through directly. The surprise in South America was the elimination of Chile, losing 3-0 at Brazil. Chile would have probably been a favorite in next year’s spectacle had they gone through.

Qualified: Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Spain, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Poland, Egypt, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Panama.

FIFA U-17 World Cup

There is hope yet for the United States as the under-17 national team impressed Monday morning with an emphatic 5-0 win over Paraguay. Timothy Weah, the son of former Liberian footballer and ex Ballon d’Or Winner George Weah, scored a hat-trick to send the “Baby Nats” to the quarterfinals on Saturday.

English Premier League

The EPL returned with a stellar matchup opening the weekend as Liverpool and Manchester United battled to a 0-0 draw. United goalkeeper David De Gea was the talk of the match as his heroics helped save a point for his side. Meanwhile, Manchester City took advantage to steer two points clear of United at the top of the table after a 7-2 beating of Stoke City. The stunners came in the form of Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace and Arsenal’s 2-1 loss at Watford.

La Liga

The biggest match of the weekend was league leaders FC Barcelona on the road against Atletico Madrid. The two played to a 1-1 draw thanks to goals from Saul and Luis Suarez and keeps Barça at the top of the table. The result hurts Atletico who go down to fourth as Real Madrid won 2-1 at Getafe. Other important results were Athletic Bilbao’s 1-0 win over Sevilla and Valencia’s 6-2 win at Real Betis.

Bundesliga

Christian Pulisic’s Dortmund suffered a costly 3-2 defeat at Red Bull Leipzig. The win puts Leipzig in third and, more importantly, allowed FC Bayern Munich to jump up to second after their 5-0 win over Freiburg. Dortmund now only holds a two point lead over Munich after the shocking loss at home, which broke a 41-match unbeaten streak. Mönchengladbach was another winner, moving up to 5th after a 2-0 win at Werder Bremen.

Ligue 1

It was a big weekend for Paris Saint Germain as they begin to build a good cushion at the top of the table. The weekend started Friday as second-place Monaco lost 3-2 at Lyon. Paris was on the road as Dijon and came away with a scrappy 2-1 win thanks to a double from Belgian Thomas Meunier. St-Étienne’s 3-1 win over Metz catapulted them to third place as Marseille and Nantes each picked up a draw.

Serie A

Napoli is the only remaining undefeated club in one of Europe’s top leagues as they defeat Roma at their place 1-0 to remain a perfect 8-0-0 to start the season. That record is still only enough to be two points clear of second-place Inter Milan who won the Milan Derby 3-2 over AC Milan. Lazio also picked up a pivotal win as they stunned Juventus 2-1 on the road to jump over them to third in the table.

Major League Soccer

Four spots were clinched in the MLS Cup Playoffs over the weekend, all in the Western Conference: Portland, Seattle, Kansas City and Houston. The biggest blow was to FC Dallas who not only failed to clinch but also got jumped in the table by the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose, Dallas and Real Salt Lake are battling for the last playoff spot, to be decided this weekend.

In the East all spots have been secured and the seedlings remain the same for the moment. The most emotional moment of the weekend came as Kaká played his final home match in Orlando, who lost 1-0 to Columbus in the Brazilian’s farewell. The regular season concludes this weekend and all matches will air simultaneously at 3 p.m. CT.

National Women’s Soccer League

The top-tier of women’s professional soccer came to a conclusion on Saturday afternoon in as the NWSL Championship match took place in Orlando. Lindsey Horan’s goal in the 50th minute was the deciding moment in the Portland Thorns 1-0 win over North Carolina Courage. It is Portland’s second NWSL title, tying the most by a club in the five-year-old league.

MVP of the Week - Tyler Deric

Klein High School product Tyler Deric had an incredible nine saves in the Houston Dynamo’s 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City. Because of other results, the Dynamo would have qualified to the playoffs regardless of the result. Even so, Deric’s heroics to deny SKC a win come out with the point sets up the Dynamo to be in play for the 3rd or 4th seed in the Western Conference. Currently in 5th, the Dynamo would have to open the playoffs on the road (where they’ve only won once all season) and moving up a spot would mean the difference in hosting their opening playoff match.

Upcoming games (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Oct. 17:

1:45 p.m. - Real Madrid vs. Tottenham (FS2)

1:45 p.m. - Spartak Moskow vs. Sevilla (ESPN Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - RB Leipzig vs FC Porto (FOX Soccer Facebook)

Wednesday, Oct. 18:

1:45 p.m. - Barcelona vs. Olympiakos (FS2)

1:45 p.m. - Benfica vs. Manchester United (Fox Soccer Facebook/FOX Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - Juventus vs Sporting CP (FOX Deportes Facebook)

Saturday, Oct. 21:

6:30 a.m. - Chelsea vs. Watford (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - Huddersfield vs. Manchester United

9:00 a.m. - Manchester City vs. Burnley

Sunday, Oct. 22:

7:30 a.m. - Everton vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - Tottenham vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

3:00 p.m. - MLS Decision Day (ESPN)

3:00 p.m. - Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire (KUBE 57)

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Bringing NIL deals to high schools will have some challenges. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Name, image, and likeness, or NIL as it has been known, has been a hotly debated topic. When some states allowed college athletes to start getting paid through NIL deals, others had to follow suit. NIL deals basically allow athletes to get paid from endorsements and the like. They can make appearances, sign autographs, and get endorsements. No longer can schools make a king's ransom off the backs of these athletes without the athletes themselves benefitting from their popularity.

Sponsorships are also allowed, which started some of this years ago when Jeremy Bloom was a pro skier who also played college football at Colorado. Bloom wasn't allowed to have sponsorships, which was a HUGE part of his skiing career, if he wanted to continue to play college football. After fighting a losing battle when the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible, Bloom went on to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He went on to have a couple short stints in the NFL, but his football career never materialized.

When a few states took the NIL law and opened it to high school student athletes, they REALLY opened a can of worms! Other states are now in full scramble mode trying to figure out how can they make this work, do they want to make this work, and wondering if this will open Pandora's Box. Newsflash: Pandora's Box has been open longer than your local grocery store chain. Schools have been paying for play ever since time began. SMU got the dreaded "Death Penalty" in the 80s behind it. Teams have seemingly had wink-wink agreements not to out one another. But high schools? This is a bit much.

AAU, club, and travel sports have had a shady undertone that's been more intense over the last 20 years or so. This is especially true in AAU basketball, where shoe companies and the like have long been "sponsors" of teams. Follow your favorite NBA player's career from high school to the league, then see what shoe company he signs with. I guarantee there's a pipeline in most cases straight from the sponsors of his AAU/high school team to his shoe deal.

Bringing NIL deals to high schools will have some challenges. For example: I heard this past weekend that a prominent high school player has an NIL deal in place with Bentley. What if said school sees a kid at another school, possibly in another state that may not have NIL deals for high schoolers. What's stopping said school from relocating this kid and family by offering them new jobs as well as an NIL deal? Private schools and charter schools aren't regulated like public schools. What's going to stop them from using funds to create a factory of college athletes by offering what other schools can't as far as NIL is concerned?

Here in Texas, football is king. Specifically, high school football. You can go to any town on a Friday night, and the local high school stadium is packed to the brim. If any of you think those towns won't band together to offer kids the best NIL deals they can in order to gain any advantage, you're crazy. States will need to hurry and approve this to stay competitive, but they'll also need to regulate it as best and as fast as they can to prevent a wild west scenario. I can see this getting out of hand quickly, but then some will step in to regulate it as soon as the scales no longer tilt in favor of the rich and powerful.

Texas is an oil rich state. New tech companies are moving here in droves because of the state tax laws. That's why the housing market is looking the way it is now. With the way high school football is like a religion here, imagine if NIL deals are allowed? What's stopping a powerhouse program from becoming invincible and cranking out 10-20 or more top tier D1 athletes from a single graduating class on a single team? We already see it with these human athlete factories masquerading as high schools.

I'm all for student athletes taking advantage of NIL. However, it has to be regulated. Why not have agents get trained and certified like pros do. Then also have them register in each state and pass a state certification, similar to the way lawyers or real estate agents have to. Now everyone is state and/or federally certified to help kids get what they can above board in NIL deals. This could've helped prevent Nick Saban's ignorant comments from last week by bringing much needed law and order to the wild west of NIL deals. Until it happens, we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I'll sit and watch the utter CHAOS (in my Khal voice)!

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