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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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