The Soccer Report

UEFA & Concacaf Champions League highlight midweek TV schedule; Houston Dynamo draw in Arizona friendly

UEFA & Concacaf Champions League highlight midweek TV schedule; Houston Dynamo draw in Arizona friendly
FIFA World Cup Winner Kylian Mbappé and PSG will be expected to advance past Dortmund. Photo: Nike, Inc.

International club football returns to our TV sets in February with the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg matches kicking off on Tuesday. In Concacaf, their version of the Champions League kicks off with the marquee match of the opening stage pitting Liga MX's Club Leon vs. MLS' LAFC.

A recap of the week that was followed by the upcoming TV schedule:

English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (76), 2. Man City (51), 3. Leicester City (50), 4. Chelsea (41), 5. Tottenham (40), 6. Sheffield (39)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. West Ham (24), 19. Watford (24), 20. Norwich City (18)

Scoring leader: 17 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 15 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Top six: 1. Real Madrid (53), 2. FC Barcelona (52), 3. Getafe (42), 4. Atletico Madrid (40), 5. Sevilla (40), 6. Villarreal (38)

Bottom three: 18. Mallorca (21), 19. Leganes (19), 20. Espanyol (19)

Scoring leader: 14 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 12 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (46), 2. RB Leipzig (45), 3. Dortmund (42), 4. Monchengladbach (42), 5. Bayer Leverkusen (40), 6. Schalke 04 (36)

Bottom three: 16. Fortuna (17), 17. Werder Bremen (17), 18. Paderborn (16)

Scoring leader: 23 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 14 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (57), 2. Lazio (56), 3. Inter Milan (54), 4. Atalanta (45), 5. Roma (39), 6. Hellas Verona (35)

Bottom three: 18. Genoa (22), 19. Brescia (16), 20. SPAL (15)

Scoring leader: 26 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 11 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top four: 1. PSG (62), 2. Marseille (52), 3. Rennes (41), 4. Lille (40)

Bottom three: 18. Dijon (26), 19. Amiens (21), 20. Toulouse (13)

Scoring leader: 16 - Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

Assists leader: 12 - Angel Di Maria (PSG)

MLS preseason

The influx of Mexican stars to Major League Soccer continues. Rodolfo Pizarro is the latest name to cross the border as the former Chivas and Monterrey star will now feature for David Beckham's Inter Miami CF. The move, which has been its own transfer saga, finally became official on Monday.

Of local interest, the Houston Dynamo played New York Red Bulls to a 1-1 draw in Tucson, Arizona as part of their "spring training" before the season kicks off on February 29th at BBVA Stadium. The Dynamo have two friendlies this week to wrap up preseason.

Liga MX

Clausura 2020

Top eight: 1. Pumas (14), 2. Club America (13), 3. Leon (12), 4. Queretaro (12), 5. Juarez (11), 6. Cruz Azul (10), 7. Atletico San Luis (9), 8. Necaxa (8)

Scoring leader: 5 - Angel Mena (Leon) / Ariel Nahuelpan (Queretaro) / Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul)

Assists leader: 4 - Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul) / Pablo Barrera (Pumas)

TV listings (All Times CT):

For full info on soccer TV listings and streaming services in the United States, visit worldsoccertalk.com

Tuesday, February 18

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Atletico Madrid vs. Liverpool (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Dortmund vs. PSG (Galavision, B/R Live)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Club Leon vs. LAFC (FS2)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Motagua vs. Atlanta United (FOX Soccer Plus)

Wednesday, February 19

1:30 p.m. - [Premier League] Man City vs. West Ham (NBC Sports)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Tottenham vs. RB Leipzig (TNT, UniMas, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Atalanta vs. Valencia (Galavision, B/R Live)

5:00 p.m. - [MLS preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake (HoustonDynamo.com/Live)

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Saprissa vs. Montreal Impact (FS2)

Thursday, February 20

12:00 p.m. / 2:00 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Round of 32 first leg matches (B/R Live)

7:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] San Carlos vs. New York City FC (FS2)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Olimpia vs. Seattle Sounders FC (FS2)

Friday, February 21

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Paderborn (FOX Soccer Plus)

1:45 p.m. - [Serie A] Brescia vs. Napoli (ESPN+)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Atlas vs. Pachuca (TUDN)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club Tijuana vs. Chivas (FOX Deportes)

Saturday, February 22

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Werder Bremen vs. Dortmund (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Hoffenheim (FS2, TUDN)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Sheffield United vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Eibar (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Leicester City vs. Man City (NBC)

11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] SPAL vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke 04 vs. RB Leipzig (FS2, TUDN)

2:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Levante vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

5:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club Leon vs. Necaxa (TUDN, ESPN Deportes)

6:00 p.m. - [MLS preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC (HoustonDynamo.com/Live)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Cruz Azul vs. Tigres (Univision, TUDN, ESPN Deportes)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monterrey vs. America (FOX Deportes)

Sunday, February 23

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Man United vs. Watford (NBC Sports)

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Wolves vs. Norwich (CNBC)

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

Monday, February 24

3:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. West Ham (NBC Sports)

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Houston is home for Jose Altuve. Composite Getty Image.

Ten months from free agency, José Altuve knew what he wanted.

“Houston is my home,” he said.

He achieved his goal to remain with the Astros, agreeing to a contract that will pay $125 million from 2025-29, when he will be 39.

“I have obviously two homes," he said Wednesday at a news conference, a day after the deal was announced. "I grew up in Venezuela, my country. Every time I go there, I tell my wife ‘Let’s go home.’ And then when it’s time to come back, I tell her ‘Let’s come back home.’”

An eight-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion and the 2017 AL MVP, Altuve had started to discuss free agency last year with wife Nina.

“I come back every day, after a night game, and I see my daughters sleeping," Altuve said. "I can wake up the next day and take them to school, so that was where the conversation where everything started, and we decided to stay here in Houston. We will never move from here.”

Houston Mayor John Whitmire declared Wednesday Jose Altuve Day, with the date, 2/7, matching Altuve’s jersey number. More than a dozen of Altuve’s teammates and coaches attended the news conference along with Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio.

“Jose Altuve is the heartbeat of this organization,” Astros general manager Dana Brown said. “He’s a franchise player. He’s on pace to be in the Hall of Fame. He’s a fan favorite, and without a doubt, he’s the spark to our Clubhouse, to our dugout, and he’s an Astro for life.”

Altuve's deal raises his career earnings above $300 million, the most among second basemen. It was negotiated by Scott Boras, who also represents Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. Boras said he spoke with Brown on Wednesday about Bregman, who can become a free agent after the World Series.

“Alex has made it clear that he’s open to listening to whatever the Astros have to say,” Boras said.

Just 5-foot-6. Altuve is among the shortest big leaguers. He went to an Astros tryout and was sent home without a contract but returned the next day at the urging of his father. He signed for $15,000 as a 16-year old in 2007.

Altuve debut in 2011 in the first of three straight 100-plus-loss seasons and helped set a winning culture for a team that went on to World Series titles in 2017 and '22. The Astros have reached the AL Championship Series in seven straight seasons.

“ José does a lot of things that not a lot of people get to see,” Astros manager Joe Espada said, “I get to witness his ability to connect with his teammates, to lead a clubhouse, to when we need somebody to step up and speak up and he speaks, and how he commands the room.”

Altuve joked that he didn't remember the lean years on Wednesday but said they made him a better player.

“Obviously, nobody likes to lose, so I think as an organization we learned a lot from those games, and we did the transition," he said. "Now we are a winning team.”

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