THE SOCCER REPORT

U.S. Women sue for gender discrimination; Zidane returns to Real Madrid

Nike unveiled the new kits to be worn by the U.S. Women's National Team as they defend their title at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup this summer. Courtesy: Nike, Inc.

From the U.S. women's lawsuit dropped on International Women's Day to the return of Zinedine Zidane to the manager's seat at Real Madrid, this week left plenty of headlines in the soccer world.

The big story, domestically, is the lawsuit initiated by several stars of the U.S. women's team just a few months before their FIFA Women's World Cup defense at France 2019. One of the bigger points, highlighted in the New York Times, is the issue of equal pay. On the same day, Adidas announced that they would be matching male bonues for female athletes at this summer's Women's World Cup.


UEFA Champions League

One of the bigger headlines on the field was Manchester United winning their Champions League series against Paris Saint-Germain after dropping the first leg at home. Before that happened on Wednesday, Ajax shocked the world with a comeback of their own against Real Madrid - ending the reign of the three-peat champions.

Round of 16 - second leg results:

  • Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (3-5 agg.)
  • Dortmund 0-1 Tottenham (0-4 agg.)
  • Porto 3-1 Roma (4-3 agg.)
  • Paris 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg., Man Utd advance on away goals)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus look to oversee a 0-2 deficit against Atletico while Manchester City want to see out a lead against Schalke 04. Wednesday will feature the closest matches, so far, with all to play for in Barcelona vs. Lyon and Bayern vs. Liverpool.

UEFA Europa League

Arsenal suffered the biggest shock of the week in a 3-1 loss at Rennes. Spanish side Sevilla were held 2-2 at home while Valencia, Napoli and Chelsea continue looking like favorites to win.

English Premier League

Manchester City and Liverpool continue neck-and-neck for the top of the English league while Tottenham were slowed down by Southampton. Manchester United, who where on a high from advancing in the Champions League, have been jumped in the top four after a 2-0 head-to-head loss to Arsenal.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (74), 2. Liverpool (73), 3. Tottenham (61), 4. Arsenal (60), 5. Manchester United (58), 6. Chelsea (57)

Scoring leader: 18 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 11 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Another week, another goal and assist for Lionel Messi who helped leaders Barcelona inch closer to the title with a 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano. The big news off the field came from Real Madrid who look to return to glory with the re-appointment of former manager and club legend Zinedine Zidane.
Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (63), 2. Atlético Madrid (56), 3. Real Madrid (51), 4. Getafe (45), 5. Alaves (41), 6. Sevilla (40)

Scoring leader: 26 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 11 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund - Stuttgart [3-1] | GOLES | Jornada 25 | Bundesliga www.youtube.com

Same ol' Bundesliga? Bayern Munich is back on top, at least on goal difference, and Robert Lewandowski is the top scorer. Borussia Dortmund still have something to say about that title race as U.S. star Christian Pulisic scored in their 3-1 win.

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (57), 2. Dortmund (57), 3. RB Leipzig (46), 4. Monchengladbach (46), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (43), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (42)

Scoring leader: 17 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 10 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund) / Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (75), 2. Napoli (57), 3. Milan (51), 4. Inter Milan (50), 5. Roma (47), 6. Torino (44)

Scoring leader: 20- Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 8 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) / Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (71), 2. Lille (57), 3. Lyon (50), 4. Marseille (47), 5. Stade Reims (43), 6. Saint-Étienne (43)

Scoring leader: 24 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 8 - Nicolas Pepe (Lille) / Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Kenny Lala (Strasbourg)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (64), 2. Ajax (59), 3. Feyenoord (47)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (62), 2. Club Brugge (56), 3. Standard Liege (50)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (60), 2. Porto (60), 3. Braga (55)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (67), 2. Rangers (59), 3. Aberdeen (51)

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Concacaf Champions League

The quarter-finals of the CCL took off with three Liga MX vs. MLS ending in victories for the Mexican clubs.

Quarterfinals - first leg results:

  • NY Red Bulls 0-2 Santos Laguna
  • Houston Dynamo 0-2 Tigres UANL
  • Independiente 2-1 Sporting KC
  • Monterrey 3-0 Atlanta United


Major League Soccer

The Houston Dynamo picked up their first league win of the season with a Mauro Manotas decider against the Montreal Impact. They will play at BBVA Compass Stadium for the third straight week after returning from Monterrey after their Concacaf Champions League bout.

Liga MX

The two Monterrey clubs tied 1-1 in their derby match, allowing Club Leon to jump to the top of the Liga MX table.

Top eight: 1. Leon (23), 2. Tigres UANL (23), 3. Monterrey (22), 4. Pachuca (17), 5. Club America (16), 6. Club Tijuana (16), 7. Necaxa (15), 8. Guadalajara (15)

Scoring leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon) / Brian Fernandez (Necaxa)

Assists leader: 7 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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Copa Libertadores

The group stage in the Copa Libertadores got underway with teams looking to pick up their first points of the season.


Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (52), 2. Defensa y Justicia (51), 3. Boca Juniors (44), 4. River Plate (39)

Scoring leader: 16 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 9 - Walter Montillo (Tigre)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Mar. 12

3:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Manchester City vs. Schalke 04 (B/R Live, Galavision)

3:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid (TNT, UniMas)

5:15 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. Deportivo Tolima (beIN SPORTS en Español)

8:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] New York Red Bulls at Santos Laguna (YahooSports.com)

10:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Houston Dynamo at Tigres UANL (YahooSports.com/Univision Deportes)

Wednesday, Mar. 13

3:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Barcelona vs. Lyon (B/R Live, UniMas)

3:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool (TNT, Galavision)

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Atlanta United vs. Monterrey (YahooSports.com/Univision Deportes)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] River Plate vs. Palestino (beIN SPORTS en Español)

Thursday, Mar. 14

12:55 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Dynamo Kiev vs. Chelsea (B/R Live, UniMas)

12:55 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Salzburg vs. Napoli (B/R Live, Galavision)

3:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Inter vs. Frankfurt (B/R Live, UniMas)

3:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Arsenal vs. Rennes (B/R Live, Galavision)

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Sporting KC vs. Independiente (YahooSports.com/Univision Deportes)

Friday, Mar. 15

2:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. SC Freiburg (FS2)

3:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. Levante (beIN SPORTS)

Saturday, Mar. 16

7:15 a.m. - [FA Cup] Watford vs. Crystal Palace (ESPN+)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Celta (beIN Sports)

9:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke 04 vs. RB Leipzig (FS2)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Bournemouth vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)

12:20 p.m. - [FA Cup] Swansea City vs. Manchester City (ESPN+)

12:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hertha BSC Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund (FS2)

2:00 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (KUBE57)

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] NY Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Univision)

2:55 p.m. - [FA Cup] Wolves vs. Manchester United (ESPN+)

Sunday, Mar. 17

9:00 a.m. - [FA Cup] Millwall vs. Brighton (ESPN+)

9:15 a.m. - [Premier League] Fulham vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Chelsea (NBC)

12:00 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Mainz 05 (FS2)

2:00 p.m. - [MLS] NYCFC vs. LAFC (FS1)

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Betis vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

4:00 p.m. - [MLS] FC Cincinnati vs. Portland Timbers (FS1)

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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