On the Pitch

Soccer weekly recap: Dynamo, Real Madrid and Dortmund score big wins

Elis is coming through at an important time with three goals this week. Photo by Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

This is a weekly soccer recap featuring a look back at all the major international soccer leagues:

UEFA Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale lit it up with spectacular goals in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund. Sevilla, Napoli, Tottenham and Manchester City all picked up an expected three points and Porto got an important 3-0 win at Monaco. To conclude Tuesday’s matches, Beşiktaş defeated Leipzig to lead their group and Liverpool (yet to win) picked up a disappointing 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow, thanks to a tying goal from Philippe Coutinho.

Wednesday had two big bouts as Paris defeated Bayern Munich, 3-0 at home, and Chelsea handed Atletico Madrid the first loss at their new stadium on the last play of the match. Barcelona and Roma did their job by getting slim road wins, Celtic got a 3-0 win at Anderlecht, while Basel and Juventus rode their home field to convincing wins. Oh by the way, Manchester United are cruising in their group after a demolishing 4-1 road victory at CSKA Moscow.

UEFA Europa League

On Thursday, the second matchday of Europe’s second-tier competition took place. Some important results to note are Arsenal’s 4-2 win at BATE, AC Milan’s 3-2 win vs. Rijeka and two Spanish teams picking up losses (Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad).

English Premier League

Harry Kane continued his good form with a double in Tottenham’s 4-0 win at Huddersfield Town. Leicester City will rue missed chances in a goalless draw at Bournemouth and West Brom and Watford also split points. West Ham, Stoke City and Manchester United where home winners on Saturday while Manchester City picked up a big 1-0 win away at Chelsea, doing so without their best player in injured forward Sergio Agüero.

On Sunday, Arsenal handled Brighton 2-nil, Burnley stuns Everton 1-nil and Newcastle and Liverpool tie 1-1 at St. James’ Park.

La Liga

Sevilla built on their midweek Europe win with a league win on Saturday while Atletico Madrid could not find the back of the net against Leganes. On Sunday, Real Sociedad and Real Betis battled to a 4-4 draw, Valencia got a 3-2 victory over Bilbao and Real Madrid picked up their first home win against Espanyol. The strangest sight of the weekend was Barcelona playing in front of an empty stadium due to the violent aftermath of the Independence referendum vote. Rather than forfeiting the match, Messi and Co. took care of business in a 3-0 win against Las Palmas.

Bundesliga

Dortmund got back to their winning ways in a 2-1 away win against FC Augsburg to keep pace atop the standings. Mönchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt, Leipzig and Leipzig also picked up wins as everyone else drew.

The biggest news in the Bundesliga, of course, was Bayern’s parting of ways with manager Carlo Ancelotti after the midweek loss at Paris in the Champions League. The Bavarians had the lead but home side Hertha came back for a 2-2 draw. To make matters worse, Bayern’s Franck Ribéry left the match injured.

Italian Serie A

The biggest result in Italy this week was Roma’s 2-0 win at AC Milan. Juventus could not carry over their success in Europe as they drew on the road, 2-2, with Atalanta. Napoli, meanwhile, picked up a 3-0 win against Cagliari to stay at the top of the standings. Lastly, Inter Milan also took advantage of Juve’s slip up, defeating Benevento to even the defending champs on points.

French Ligue 1

Paris cannot stop scoring goals as they competed 6-2 drubbing of Bordeaux. Neymar scored two as Cavani, Draxler and Mbappé also got in on the action, keeping the Parisians three points ahead in the standings of Monaco, who drew 1-1 on Friday against Montpellier. Lyon also drew away, Marseille got an important 4-2 win at Nice and the once great St-Étienne lost 2-1 at recently promoted Troyes.

Major League Soccer

The playoff picture is starting to take take shape fast in MLS. Five of the six spots in the Eastern Conference have been clinched (Toronto, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and Columbus) with the last up for grabs between New York Red Bulls, who are in the pole position, and four other clubs. Toronto FC clinched the Supporters’ Shield, given to the team with the most points, and look like the odds-on favorite to win it all.

In the West, only the Vancouver Whitecaps have clinched a spot. Portland and Kansas City missed a chance to book their place in the postseason this week and the Houston Dynamo, who was outside the playoff line, took care of business to jump within the qualifying spots for the moment. Real Salt Lake got a last-minute draw at LA Galaxy to keep their hopes alive while FC Dallas took a hit and drops below the playoff line for now.

Liga MX

After last week’s earthquakes, Liga MX returned to action on Tuesday. To no surprise, the teams affected by the natural disaster could not pick up a win midweek. That changed over the weekend as America got a 1-0 win at Toluca and Cruz Azul won 4-1 over Mexico City rivals Pumas UNAM. Tigres, meanwhile, picked up a 1-0 win over Guadalajara in a rematch of last season’s final.

MVP of the Week - Alberth Elis

The MVP for this week is Houston Dynamo’s Alberth Elis. The 21-year-old put the team on his back with two crucial matches this week and scored three goals, one of them a penalty. With the Dynamo needing results to fix their run of winless matches, Elis is showing up at just the right time. “La Panterita” (the little panther) is also bringing entertainment as he donned a Black Panther mask after Saturday’s goal vs. Minnesota United FC. The Honduran will now look to help his country qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in this weekend’s decisive matches.

Upcoming games (All Times CT):

This weekend is a FIFA International date, meaning leagues take a break while FIFA World Cup Qualifying resumes.

The United States (currently in fourth place), Panama and Honduras are all battling for the last spots in next week’s summer spectacle. After this weekend’s matches, one will be left out. Also, if you can believe it, Messi’s Argentina and South American champions Chile are fighting to stave off elimination.

Thursday, Oct. 5:

6:30 p.m. - Argentina vs. Peru (beIN Sports)

Friday, Oct. 6:

1:45 p.m. - Spain vs. Albania (ESPN Deportes/Watch ESPN)

6:35 p.m. - USA vs. Panama (ESPN2)

8:30 p.m. - Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Univision)

9:00 p.m. - Costa Rica vs. Honduras (beIN Sports)

Tuesday, Oct. 10:

6:30 p.m. - Brazil vs. Chile

7:00 p.m. - Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA (beIN Sports)

7:00 p.m. - Panama vs. Costa Rica

7:00 p.m. - Honduras vs. Mexico (Telemundo)

 

 

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Watson's accusers appeared on Real Sports on Tuesday night. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s heavily promoted and much anticipated examination of Deshaun Watson’s legal mess involving alleged sexual misconduct shed little new light and merely presented a summary of well worn he said/she (x22) said accusations and denials.

The episode debuted Tuesday night on the premium cable service and will be repeated dozens of times throughout the week on HBO’s platforms. Check your local listings for times and channel.

The segment was hosted by Soledad O’Brien who presented compelling face-to-face interviews with two of the quarterback’s accusers: massage therapists Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes. Their stories were detailed and graphic. Both cried during the interviews.

Solis: “As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. I told that I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Solis said she felt threatened when Watson, before leaving the session, allegedly told her: “I know you have a career to protect, and I know that you don’t want anyone messing with it, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

Solis added, “That’s when I got really scared because that sounded like a threat to me.”

Hayes: “He wanted me to kind of make a V motion in his pelvic area. I just kept massaging and did what he asked, until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it.”

Hayes said that Watson had an orgasm, which she said was “mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.”

O’Brien asked Hayes why she continued to have contact via email with Watson after their encounter.

Hayes: "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the runaround? Yes."

O’Brien pointed out that two separate grand juries in Texas heard criminal accusations against Watson and neither found enough evidence to indict him.

Solis and Hayes, and 20 other massage therapists have filed civil suits against Watson. The cases aren’t expected to reach a courtroom until next March. Both sides could reach a settlement before then which would effectively shut down any legal action against Watson. However, both sides say they aren’t interested in any pretrial settlements. That’s what they say now, anyway.

After being banished to the sidelines for the 2021 season by the Houston Texans, Watson signed a historic, 5-year fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes said she feels Watson “is being rewarded for bad behavior." Solis said, "It's just like a big screw you. That's what it feels like. That we (the Browns) don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about.”

Watson currently is participating in preseason workouts with the Browns and, at the moment, is cleared to play the upcoming NFL season.

That is unless the NFL suspends Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is nearing completion of its independent investigation into Watson’s case and will reach a decision “shortly,” probably this summer. The NFL and NFL Players Association mutually agreed to have former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson decide whether or not Watson violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and what discipline should be handed down if he did.

The Browns are scheduled to play the Texans on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

O’Brien said, while producing the Real Sports piece, she tried to interview Watson, his attorneys and the Cleveland Browns for their side of the story. All declined.

During a press conference in March to announce his joining the Browns, Watson denied any inappropriate behavior with the massage therapists.

Watson: “I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone around me. I’ve never done the thing that these people are alleging. My mom and my aunties didn’t raise me that way.”

Leah Graham, a member of Watson’s legal team, sat for an interview after O’Brien’s segment was complete.

Graham: "It's 22 women. It's one lawyer. There's only one lawyer who was willing to take these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. (Houston attorney Tony) Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third lawyer she went to, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.”

My reaction after watching the Real Sports segment? We weren’t in the room when the massage therapists worked on Watson. We weren’t in the grand jury room when evidence against Watson was presented. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what will happen if these cases go to trial.

Until then all we have is one big, lurid, embarrassing mess. In American courtrooms, defendants are presumed innocent. That’s often the opposite in the court of public opinion. We’ll just have to wait while the wheels of justice grind painfully slow.

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