WEEKLY RECAP

Weekly Soccer Recap: Stellar week in the Bundesliga; Dynamo fall to Sounders in Western Final

The Houston Dynamo fell at home to Seattle Sounders FC and will be without Alberth Elis for the second leg on Thursday. Diego Dlouhy

The MLS Cup Playoffs resumed after a long layover, Liga MX playoffs got underway and the action heats up in Europe as November came to a close. Manchester City, FC Barcelona, Bayern, PSG and Napoli all remain atop their leagues but one took a stumble this week.

Premier League

The top of the table remains fairly unchanged as there were many close matches this weekend. A Nicolás Otamendi own goal had Manchester City fighting their way back to a 2-1 win at promoted side Huddersfield Town, Manchester United get a 1-0 win thanks to a Brighton own goal and Tottenham drew 1-1 with West Bromwich. The big name match was between Liverpool and Chelsea where Mohamed Salah scored again - his 10th goal in 13 appearances - before a Willian wonder goal would save a point for the Blues. Arsenal jump back into the top five after Alexis Sanchez converted a penalty in stoppage time at Burnley.

Top 5: Manchester City (37), Manchester United (29), Chelsea (26), Arsenal (25), Tottenham (24)

La Liga

The big news of the weekend was Barcelona’s contract renewal of Lionel Messi and his newly imposed €700m buyout clause. Of course he was a topic of conversation again as the top teams in Spain met, having a goal disallowed and sparking the conversation for video review in La Liga. Valencia jumped to a 1-0 lead in the 60th min. before Jordi Alba’s 82nd min. goal tied things up. The two sides split points and Barcelona maintains its four point lead at the top.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game-winning goal in a Real Madrid’s 3-2 victory over Málaga while Antoine Griezmann scored a double in three minutes in Atlético’s 5-0 win at Levante. The other top five team, Sevilla, won 3-2 at Villarreal.

The 5: Barcelona (35), Valencia (31), Real Madrid (27), Atlético Madrid (27) and Sevilla (25)

Bundesliga

Just when it looked like Bayern Munich may have been running away with the league, Borussia Mönchengladbach pull off a 2-1 win to keep the leaders within three points of second place. Leipzig may be ruing last week’s result after bouncing back to win 2-0 this week at Werder Bremen. As far as the other two top five teams? They delivered the match everyone was talking about.

Rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 delivered a match that will be remembered in the latest edition of the Revierderby. Dortmund jumped to a 4-0 lead at home before Schalke made their way back to salvage a point from the matter. Dortmund are know winless in their last six across all competitions as the opportunity to bounce back from a midweek Champions League defeat just took more air out of their season. To make matters worse, leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was red carded and will mix the next match.

Top 5: Bayern Munich (29), RB Leipzig (26), Schalke 04 (24), Mönchengladbach (24), Dortmund (21)

Ligue 1

A Neymar penalty was the decider as Paris visited Monaco to hand them a 2-1 defeat. Monaco know slips out of what was their habitual second place spot as Lyon delivered a 5-0 thumping at Nice. Florian Thauvin was the hero for Marseille as they get a 1-0 victory at Guingamp and Nantes suffered a 2-1 setback at Rennes.

Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (38), Lyon (29), Monaco (29), Marseille (28), Nantes (23)

Serie A

Napoli simply cannot be beat as a Jorginho goal secured a 1-0 win at Udinese to keep them undefeated at the top. Icardi was the man of the match after scoring a double for Inter Milan and Juventus picked up a 3-0 win vs. Cotone. Roma tied 1-1 at Genoa as Daniele De Rossi was handed a red card while Lazio tied 1-1 with Fiorentina.

The biggest news off the field came after the weekend when both A.C. Milan and Sassuolo parted ways with their managers. Milan legend Gennaro Gattuso has been named the interim for the Rossoneri.

The top 5: Napoli (38), Inter Milan (36), Juventus (34), Roma (31), Lazio (29)

Major League Soccer

Columbus Crew could not take full advantage of home field as they battled to a nil-nil draw against Toronto FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship. The second leg will be on Wednesday in Toronto as the league leaders will welcome back two of their best players in Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.

In the Western Conference Championship, the Houston Dynamo fell 2-0 at home against defending MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders FC. Gustav Svensson and former Dynamo Will Bruin were the men who helped their side to the lead and the two important away goals. The two teams meet again Thursday night in Seattle with Houston needing at least two goals to force extra time and likely three to advance to the MLS Cup Final.

Conference finals:

Toronto FC, Columbus Crew SC tied 0-0

Seattle Sounder FC leads Houston Dynamo 2-0

Liga MX

No side could find separation in the series between Tigres and León with both sides splitting 1-1 draws in their home field. The same can be said in the series between Morelia and Toluca where both sides split 2-1 wins. Mexico City rivals América and Cruz Azul also split results, playing to nil-nil draws. Thanks to the tie-breaker that gives the edge to the higher seed it will be Tigres, América and Morelia who advance to the semifinals.

The only series with a definite winner was between Monterrey - the best club during the regular season - and Atlas. Atlas immediately gave up the lead in the first leg and could never fight their way back. Monterrey won 6-2 on aggregate.

MVP of the Week - Antoine Griezmann

The MVP this week goes to Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. The French forward - who last year gave Cristiano Ronaldo a run at the Ballon d’Or - was reignited this week with a goal against Roma in Wednesday’s Champions League match, followed by a double on Saturday against Levante. Spain’s La Liga has been by and large a two-team race but Atleti has been hanging around the top during the last few seasons. For the Colchoneros to be the disturbing force that has led them to two of the last four Champions League finals, they will need Griezmann to be at the top of his game.

Upcoming matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, Nov. 29:

6:30 p.m.- Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC (FS1)

9:00 p.m.- América vs. Tigres (Univision Deportes)

Thursday, Nov. 30:

7:30 p.m.- Morelia vs. Monterrey (Univision Deportes)

9:30 p.m.- Seattle Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo (ESPN)

Friday, Dec. 1:

1:20 p.m.- Freiburg vs. Hamburg (FS2)

Saturday, Dec. 2:

6 a.m. - Barcelona vs. Celta Vigo (beIN Sports)

8:30 a.m. - Bayern Munich vs. Hannover 96 (FS1)

8:30 a.m. - Leverkusen vs. Dortmund (FS2)

10 a.m. - Strasbourg vs. PSG (beIN Sports)

1:45 p.m. - Bilbao vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - Arsenal vs. Manchester United (NBC)

11:30 a.m. - Schalke vs. Cologne (FS2)

7 p.m.- Tigres vs. América (Univision Deportes)

Sunday, Dec. 3:

8 a.m. - Bournemouth vs. Southampton (NBC Sports)

10 a.m. - Manchester City vs. West Ham (NBC Sports)

6 p.m.- Monterrey vs. Morelia (Univision Deportes)

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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