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.
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.
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.
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)
With a new season on the horizon, the Astros have high hopes for 2024 after coming just one game shy of being in the World Series for three consecutive seasons.
If Houston wants to get back to the Fall Classic in 2024, they're going to have to rely on their pitching. Owner Jim Crane believes the club has 8 starting pitchers when Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. return mid-season.
Which allows several of the starters to move to the bullpen and provide even more depth. Add those guys to Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader and you have a recipe for success.
Check out the video above as ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham goes through the entire staff and makes his case for the Astros having the best pitching staff in baseball.
You can listen to The Killer B's with Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank every weekday on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 from 3 pm - 6 pm!