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)

Christian Pulisic highlights Team USA's roster to face Chile on Tuesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. Courtesy: Nike, Inc.

This week's international fixtures continue with a local connection to the action as the U.S. Men's National Team is set to host reigning South American Champion Chile at BBVA Compass Stadium. It will be the fourth match, and toughest test yet, for Manager Gregg Berhalter since being appointed to the position back in December.

Team USA is 3-0-0 under Berhalter after defeating Ecuador, 1-0, in a friendly last Friday in Orlando. The current roster includes 15 players who ply their trade domestically in Major League Soccer and is headlined by 20-year-old Bundesliga star Christian Pulisic, who will join Premier League club Chelsea this summer after a $73 million move.

Tickets still remain for tonight's match with just over half of the stadium expected to be full. Attendance has been an issue for the USMNT following their failure to qualify to the last year's FIFA World Cup, but the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority will be hoping to attract as big a crowd as possible in their efforts for Houston to be a 2026 FIFA World Cup host city.


International Friendlies

Among some of the other international friendlies that stood out where Venezuela's 3-1 victory over Argentina in Madrid, Spain. Despite it being an exhibition, much of the headlines after would be about Lionel Messi's window to win a championship with his home country. The FC Barcelona star left the national team after that match as an injury precaution. Among those that featured where also Atlanta United teammates Gonzalo Martinez (Argentina) and Josef Martinez (Venezuela), the latter scoring the final goal of the game via a penalty.

Mexico began life with their new coach Gerardo Martino with a 3-1 win over Chile in San Diego, California. The win provided many talking points and positives for El Tri as they, like the United States, prepare for this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup. Mexico hosts Paraguay on Tuesday night in Santa Clara, California.

Panama tied Brazil 1-1 in Portugal where former Houston Dynamo Adolfo Machado scored for the Central Americans in their historic draw with the five-time FIFA World Cup champs.

UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers

One of the bigger international tournaments besides the FIFA World Cup is the European Championship. The 2020 edition, to be disputed across 12 European countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition, is undergoing it's qualification stage. One of the thrillers this week has been Germany's 3-2 win at rival Netherlands. France, the current World Champion, continues to look strong as they demolish their competition.

A local tie to the Euro 2020 qualifiers exists as Houston Dynamo defender Aljaz "Kiki" Struna started in both of Slovenia's matches this week, the two results ending in 1-1 draws to Israel and Macedonia.

For the defending European Champions Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo suffered an injury that saw him leave their 1-1 draw with Serbia. Overlapping to club competition, many wonder how big of a hit this could be for Juventus in their aim to win the UEFA Champions League.


Concacaf Nations League

All the participants in this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup are now confirmed after action wrapped up in the Nations League tournament. Houston Dynamo midfielder Darwin Ceren was one of the players involved in pivotal matches as he started and helped El Salvador win 2-0 over Jamaica.

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Mar. 26

1:00 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Armenia vs. Finland (ESPN3, Univision Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Morocco vs. Argentina (beIN Sports)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Greece (ESPN3)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Malta vs. Spain (ESPN+, Univision Deportes)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Italy vs. Liechtenstein (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Czech Republic vs. Brazil (ESPN3)

7:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] USA vs. Chile (ESPN2, UniMas)

9:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Mexico vs. Paraguay (UniMas)

Wednesday, Mar. 27

1:00 p.m. - [UEFA Women's Champions League] PSG vs. Chelsea (beIN Sports)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Cruzeiro vs. Deportivo Lara (beIN Sports)

Friday, Mar. 29

2:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (FS2, Univision Deportes)

3:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Girona vs. Athletic Bilbao (beIN Sports)

Saturday, Mar. 30

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Fulham vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

9:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Freiburg vs. FC Bayern Munich (FS2, UniMas)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Watford (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Southampton (CNBC)

10:15 a.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Espanyol (beIN Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Everton (NBC Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Celta Vigo vs. Villarreal (beIN Sports)

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

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] San Jose Earthquakes vs. LAFC (Twitter, Univision)

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

8:00 p.m. - [MLS] Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE57)

Sunday, Mar. 31

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff City vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hannover 96 vs. FC Schalke 04 (FS1, Univision Deportes)

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports)

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Huesca (beIN Sports)

5:30 p.m. - [MLS] Orlando City vs. D.C. United (FS1)

8:00 p.m. - [MLS] LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers (ESPN2)

Monday, Apr. 1

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)

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