ON THE PITCH

Weekly Soccer Recap: David Beckham brings MLS to Miami; Dynamo kick off preseason

David Beckham's group were awarded Major League Soccer's 25th franchise. MLSsoccer.com

The MLS offseason is officially over but the biggest move off the field came from a former player. Overseas, cup competition is heating up since most leagues already - unofficially - know it’s champion. This was the week in soccer:

Premier League

The Premier League took a backseat to domestic cup competition this week. Midweek, Manchester City and Arsenal won their League Cup semifinal matches against Bristol City and Chelsea respectively. The final is set for Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Over the weekend, the FA Cup took priority with fourth round matchups. The upsets came from West Brom as they won 3-2 at Liverpool and Wigan Athletic who bested West Ham 2-nil at home. There will be four replay matches next week for the four draws, including Tottenham vs. League Two side Newport County. Chelsea, Leicester City, Manchester City and Manchester United all walked into the next round with big wins.

The Premier League returns with matches on Tuesday.

Top 5: Manchester City (65), Manchester United (53), Chelsea (50), Liverpool (47), Tottenham (45).

La Liga

Leganés remain the only Madrid area team in the Copa del Rey as both Atlético and Real were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Atlético could not overcome the likes of Sevilla and Real Madrid were humbled 2-1 by Leganés, who advance on away goals. The semifinal series will begin this week between Leganés vs. Sevilla and FC Barcelona vs. Valencia.

League action took place over the weekend with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi leading the charge for Barcelona - this week with only one goal apiece. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a double - both goals coming via penalties - as Real cruised to a 4-1 win at Valencia. Atlético defeated Las Palmas 3-0 at home.

The 5: Barcelona (57), Atlético Madrid (46), Valencia (40), Real Madrid (38), Villarreal (37).

Bundesliga

Just when Bayern Munich looked beatable, they overturn a 2-0 deficit to win 5-2 over Hoffenheim. Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke kept their spots at second and third with 2-nil wins. Eintracht Frankfurt had a 2-nil win of their own over Borussia Mönchengladbach, catapulting them up to fourth in the standings. Leipzig drops to fifth as a result of their 1-1 draw vs. Hamburg. Christian Pulisic started in Dortmund’s 2-2 draw with Freiburg.

On that note, Borussia Dortmund fans will be pleased to know that their club is headed stateside after the conclusion of the Bundesliga. They will play at LAFC in the new Banc of California Stadium (date and time TBD) in one of their 2018 tour stops.

Top 5: Bayern Munich (50), Bayer Leverkusen (34), Schalke 04 (34), Eintracht Frankfurt (33), RB Leipzig (32).

Ligue 1

Another win for PSG with Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Angel Di Maria guiding the club to a 4-0 win over Montpellier. Neymar’s double came with one of his goals via the penalty spot but the spotlight went to Cavani, who surpassed Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the club’s all-time leading scorer. Monaco dropped to fourth place after a 2-2 tie at Marseille - an important result as only the top three are guaranteed a spot in the UEFA Champions League. Monaco can jump back into the top three with a home match against Lyon this coming weekend.  

Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (59), Lyon (48), Marseille (48), Monaco (47), Nantes (37).

Serie A

The most compelling title race in Europe out of the top five leagues is heating up as neither Napoli or Juventus want to give away an inch. Napoli cruised to a 3-1 over Bologna while Juventus won 3-0 at Chievo Verona. Lazio had a hiccup this week, losing 2-1 at A.C. Milan, while Inter tied 1-1 at SPAL and Roma lost 1-0 vs. Sampdoria.

The top 5: Napoli (57), Juventus (56), Lazio (46), Inter Milan (44), Roma (41).

Liga MX

The early season shuffling at the top of the table continues as only Pumas UNAM and Santos Laguna were able to keep a place in the the top five. Pumas continues to be the leader but were held to a 1-1 draw at Lobos BUAP. Former Houston Dynamo Erick Torres missed out on his debut but did make the gameday roster. In one of the standout matches, Tigres defeated Pachuca 3-2 at home. Monterrey picked up a 2-1 win at Chivas and Leon were dismantled 4-0 at home against Necaxa - still no word on Landon Donovan’s potential debut.

The top 5: Pumas UNAM (8), Monterrey (8), Tijuana (8), America (8), Santos (7).

Major League Soccer

Quite possibly the most awaited expansion announcement took place at the Adrienne Arsht Center on Monday as Miami was awarded an MLS franchise. Very few details were given other than the team is expected to play in the league during the 2020 season - 19 years after the folding of the previous Miami MLS franchise. The club is still looking for a temporary home as their soccer-specific stadium will not be built in time for their inaugural campaign. The event garnered major media attention because of the involvement of David Beckham.

Off the field, plenty of transfer moves continue to reshape the league. Houston Dynamo sold their 2017 top scorer Erick Torres to Liga MX leader Pumas while the Cyle Larin era is over in Orlando in a move that sends the Canadian to Champions League side Besiktas of Turkey. Orlando City have also bolstered their midfield with the addition of Justin Meram from Columbus and Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is reportedly close to finalizing a deal with LA Galaxy.

National Women’s Soccer League

In an announcement that shook the reputation of the top division in Women’s Soccer, the Boston Breakers have ceased operations just weeks before the start of preseason after a new ownership group could not be established. A dispersal draft will be held Tuesday afternoon to decide the destination of the players on the roster. The Houston Dash will pick sixth in the snake draft.

Upcoming matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Jan. 23:

1:45 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Atalanta vs. Juventus (GolTV)

2 p.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

2 p.m. - [Coupe de la Ligue] Rennes vs. Paris Saint-Germain (beIN Sports)

Wednesday, Jan. 24:

1:45 p.m. - [Coppa Italia] Milan vs. Lazio (GolTV)

2 p.m. - [Premier League] Spurs vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

2:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Leganes vs. Sevilla (beIN Sports)

8 p.m. - [International Friendly] Mexico vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina (UniMas/Univision Deportes)

Thursday, Jan. 25:

2:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Barcelona vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)

Friday, Jan. 26:

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Koln vs. Dortmund (FS1)

1:45 p.m. - [Coupe de la Ligue] Marseille vs. Metz (beIN Sports)

Saturday, Jan. 27:

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Burnley vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. Bayern Munich (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke vs. Werder Bremen (FS2)

9 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Huddersfield (NBC Sports)

10 a.m. - [Ligue 1] Lille vs. Paris Saint-Germain (beIN Sports)

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

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mönchengladbach vs. RB Leipzig (FS2)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Levante vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

Sunday, Jan. 28:

8:15 a.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Augsburg vs. Frankfurt (FS1)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Espanyol vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

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

11 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hamburg vs. Hannover (FS2)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)

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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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