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)

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan addressed questions from fans during the first hour of Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night. Among the topics of conversation were potential player signings, concerns with player development and club operations.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A with callers to the program:

Potential Transfers

On why the Dynamo has not gone after a big name player that can fill BBVA Stadium

We're very open and we have had discussion with "big name players" ... For us, it's about getting the right players and I truly believe, through my experiences, you also have stars that grow within the league. We've seen that with our team with Alberth Elis, with Mauro Manotas - from my time in Montreal, we saw that with Ignacio Piatti. These weren't "big name stars" but they became "big name stars" so we look at all of it. We look at making our own stars, we look at some players that have been on the biggest stages and maybe a bit older but, for us, it's analyzing what's the right fit.

On the suggestion of a player like Mexico National Team Captain Andres Guardado

A lot of fans will say, "bring a big name, a Messi or Ronaldo" and that's not always realistic in the world of soccer but those are the types of profiles we do continue to look at along with making our own stars as well, which I think we've done a good job of with the two players I mentioned, who are stars in the city of Houston now.

On the reports of Cruz Azul's interest in Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas

We're getting interest in a lot of our young talented players. The two players that everyone talks about is Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis, there's also a handful of other players that we get inquiries of from abroad. A lot of the teams in the Mexican league follow our teams very closely and Cruz Azul did express interest in Mauro... [a potential transfer] has to make sense for the player, it has to make sense for the club

Player Development

On the investment in the Houston Dynamo Academy

With the support of our ownership group, over the last 18 months, have made significant investments in the academy. We hired a new academy director in Paul Holocher, we brought on what I believe are some of the brightest young coaches in the Unites States. We've really worked very hard to strengthen our partnerships and our strategic alliances here within the city of Houston, which I believe has really been a downfall of ours in the past.

On the possibility of having a locally-based USL team

We have. One thing I can tell you, we have our USL players, our academy players, our U23 players in and out with the first team all the time. With the Open Cup, we brought up several of our USL players. You'll see a couple of our USL players come up for our League's Cup game as well... of course, it's more ideal to have it next to our first team field but we're very proud of the partnership in the [Rio Grande] Valley.

Club Policies

On the Dynamo's scouting system for recruiting players for the first team...

We do have a scout in Europe that's paid by us, we have a scout in South America that's paid by us and I also have a full-time scout and analyst, here, that is in Houston working with us in our recruitment department.

What we do is we go through the annual scouting calendar, we prioritize what events we need to hit. Generally speaking, I only travel when we get to the point - myself or [Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera] or both of us together, a lot of time we'll travel together in the offseason. We only really travel when we get to [final stages of a transfer].

We use our regional contacts...What I really focus on is having one key contact in each country and, a lot of times, we go after the player, it's not that the player is presented to us by the agent. [Recent signing Jose Bizama] is a prime example, we went after Bizama and we approached the club through our process. Now, there's times where a player is presented to us as well, but more often then not we utilize those regional contacts in each country. There's a lot of times, with many of our players, we've identified them or we've gone after them when they're, maybe, not for sale and that's when the grinding starts to take place for the negotiation.

On the club hosting a town hall meeting with supporters

In this moment, I can't speak for ownership but I have no problem being in any setting and fielding questions about the team for the fans.

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The entire conversation is available on the July 16, 2019 episode of the podcast, which can be heard on iTunes, Google Podcasts and www.podcastarena.com/soccermatters/

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