ON THE PITCH
Weekly Soccer Recap: Landon Donovan is soccer’s Brett Favre, Man City finally loses
Liverpool and Manchester City delivered a thriller while - what at first looked like a massive troll job - Landon Donovan left many wondering why he is coming out of retirement. Here are the most important moments in soccer this week:
There are several storylines to dive into after this weekend’s results in the United Kingdom but none will garner much attention than Liverpool’s 4-3 win over league leaders Manchester City. The Reds were up to a 4-1 lead at home before the Citizens scored two in the last seven minutes. Ultimately time ran out on City’s undefeated season but this may not me anything more than a blemish as City still hold a 12-point lead at the top of the table.
Manchester United enjoyed a 3-0 win over Stoke while Tottenham got a home win of its own, 4-0 over Everton. Chelsea could not undo Leicester City as that match ended in a scoreless draw. Arsenal, meanwhile, sees a spot in the top four slipping after a 2-1 loss at Bournemouth. Among other notable results are West Ham’s 4-1 win over Huddersfield and Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City. Stoke, West Brom and Swansea are currently in the last three.
Top 5: Manchester City (62), Manchester United (50), Liverpool (47), Chelsea (47), Tottenham (44)
The Barcelona show continues in La Liga, this week with a 4-2 win at Real Sociedad where Luis Suarez and Leo Messi stood out for their marvelous goals. Atlético Madrid managed a 1-0 win at Eibar while Valencia saw out a 2-1 win at Deportivo La Coruña. A long ways away from contention are defending champions Real Madrid in fourth who suffered another stunning loss at home, this time 1-0 to Villareal. That win, plus Alavés’ 1-0 win over Sevilla, places Villarreal in the top five.
The 5: Barcelona (51), Atlético Madrid (42), Valencia (40), Real Madrid (32), Villarreal (31)
The Bundesliga winter break is over but not much changed. Bayern Munich picked up another three points with a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen, with Martinez, Ribery and Rodriguez as the scorers. Leipzig broke the deadlock for second and took sole position of that spot - for now at least - with a 3-1 win over Schalke. Dortmund moves up to fourth after only picking up a point in scoreless affair against Wolfsburg at home.
Top 5: Bayern Munich (44), RB Leipzig (31), Schalke 04 (30), Dortmund (29), Bayer Leverkusen (28)
The second half of the season begins to pick up steam as the Paris trains continues to chug along, this time with a 1-0 win at fifth-place Nantes. Meanwhile, Monaco and Lyon both picked up a point - giving PSG no cause for concern in a title race where they hold an 11-point lead. Marseille was the only other top five side to pick up a win this week, a 3-0 result at Rennes.
Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (53), Monaco (42), Lyon (42), Marseille (41), Nantes (33)
Normally soccer in Italy takes a winter break from Christmas (Dec. 25) to Epiphany (Jan. 6) as both are major Catholic holidays. This season, the Italian league broke tradition by playing during the holidays and prolonging the winter break until now. The Serie A returns this weekend.
The top 5: Napoli (51), Juventus (50), Inter Milan (42), Lazio (40), Roma (39)
It was a big week of news in Mexico but let’s begin with the results. Tijuana and Morelia each won their match, 1-0, over Necaxa and Puebla respectively. Queretaro picked up a massive 2-0 win against Lobos BUAP in a match of two teams fearing relegation. América and Pachuca battled to a 2-2 draw at the Azteca, while Tigres, León, Pumas and Monterrey all saw out three points this weekend.
Off the field, León made the biggest noise with two transfers with ties to MLS. The first was former Houston Dynamo Giles Barnes - an Englishman with Jamaican roots - who will ply his trade south of the border after his contract has expired with MLS. As if that wasn’t enough of a shock, León decided to bring the all-time MLS leader in goals, Landon Donovan, out of retirement. Barnes and Donovan share the same agent which is how talks began. Donovan - who has now become US Soccer’s version of Brett Favre - has not played a professional match since November of 2016. Donovan was in Houston last month in the Kick In For Houston match that raised funds for Harvey Relief efforts.
The top 5: Pumas UNAM (6), León (6), Cruz Azul (4), Monterrey (4), Club América (3)
Major League Soccer clubs will all report next week for the start of preseason but before that, clubs will have the opportunity to bolster their squads in Friday’s MLS SuperDraft. Teams are in Orlando getting one last look at the best talent coming out of colleges in the 2018 MLS Combine.
That’s not the only way teams are making their rosters betters. Transfers continue to heat up in the MLS offseason with the inclusion of more young talent from South America. On Monday, Orlando City announced the signing of 19-year-old Josue Coman. According to reports, the Timbers are close to signing Peruvian international Andy Polo (age 24) while Chicago Fire have their eyes set on Colombian Juan Quintero (age 24). The biggest splash, however, was made last week as Atlanta United paid an MLS-record $15 million transfer fee for 18-year-old Argentinian Ezequiel Barco.
Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):
Tuesday, Jan. 16:
12 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Marseille vs. Strasbourg (beIN Sports)
1:45 p.m. - [FA Cup] Leicester vs. Fleetwood Town (FS2)
2 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Monaco vs. Nice (beIN Sports)
Wednesday, Jan. 17:
12 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla (beIN Sports)
1:45 p.m. - [FA Cup] Chelsea vs. Norwich (FS1)
2 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Espanyol vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)
Thursday, Jan. 18:
9 a.m. - 2018 NWSL Draft (Facebook LIVE/YouTube)
2:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Leganes vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)
Friday, Jan. 19:
10 a.m. - 2018 MLS SuperDraft Draft (Facebook LIVE/YouTube)
1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund (FS1)
1:45 p.m. - [Ligue 1] Caen vs. Marseille (beIN Sports)
Saturday, Jan. 20:
6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. Leverkusen (FS1)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Freiburg vs. RB Leipzig (FS2)
9 a.m. - [Premier League] Burnley vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)
9 a.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace (CNBC)
11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Newcastle (NBC)
11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hamburg vs. Koln (FS2)
Sunday, Jan. 21:
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen (FS1)
9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Deportivo (beIN Sports)
10 a.m. - [Ligue 1] Monaco vs. Metz (beIN Sports)
11 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke vs. Hannover (FS2)
1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Betis vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)