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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Houston's winning streak is up to nine

Astros secure series over Orioles as winning streak continues

Zack Greinke provided another long outing for his team on Tuesday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After continuing their recent dominance with a lopsided win over this Orioles team on Monday in the rain-plagued opener, the Astros eyed number nine in a row if they could do it again on Tuesday. Though not as one-sided, the Astros would get the victory to secure the series win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Orioles 1

Astros' Record: 45-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (8-2)

Losing Pitcher: Jorge Lopez (2-9)

A tame start for Houston's offense

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, Myles Straw started the scoring with two outs in the top of the second, sneaking a ball off and over the left-field wall just out of the grasp of Austin Hays for a solo homer to put Houston ahead 1-0. After Baltimore tied the game in the third, the game remained gridlocked 1-1 until the top of the seventh, when Chase McCormick would reach on a one-out infield single then raced around to score on a Myles Straw RBI single, putting Houston back in front 2-1.

Greinke pitches into the eighth

Over that span, Zack Greinke was getting efficient innings against Baltimore's lineup. He allowed that trying run in the third, which came after a one-out walk moved to third on a single, then scored on a sac fly. That was one of his few moments with runners in scoring position, as he erased a single in the first, a single in the fourth, and a double in the seventh to maintain the new 2-1 lead.

The Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth but came away with only one run of insurance on a McCormick sac fly, making it 3-1 as Greinke returned to the mound to continue working. He allowed a leadoff single then retired the next batter before Dusty Baker would come out to get him as the left-handed portion of the lineup was due up and a better match for Brooks Raley, who had been warming. Greinke's final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 91 P.

Astros make it nine in a row

Raley completed the eighth for Greinke with two strikeouts to strand the inherited runner. With it still a two-run game in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save. He erased a two-out single to finish things off, giving Houston their ninth win in a row and securing the series with a chance at the sweep in the finale.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set will be another 6:05 PM Central start time on Wednesday. Thomas Eshelman (0-0, 1.93 ERA) will be on the mound for Baltimore to face the Astros, while Jose Urquidy (5-3, 3.65 ERA) will start for Houston.

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