Challenges of CONCACAF Champions League on display in Houston


HOUSTON, Tex. – The announced attendance was 19,462, but there were nowhere near that many people at BBVA Compass Stadium. Empty orange seats were scattered throughout both bowls of the Houston Dynamo’s home arena, though the crowd was larger than we’ve become accustomed to for mid-week, CONCACAF action. Just like the tournament’s on-field quality, the excitement in the stands remains a work in progress.

It’s difficult to disconnect the excitement from the quality – the tournament’s overall product. On Tuesday, the product produced by Houston and Honduras’s CD Olimpia was notably worse than what fans saw three days earlier when the Dynamo hosted the struggling Philadelphia Union. How can a match between two confederations’ best fail to meet the standard of a game between a contender and an also ran? It’s a disconnect makes is hard to reconcile calls for making CONCACAF Champions League a higher priority.

Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear’s preferences were clear. Only one player among Saturday’s starting lineup was featured in Tuesday’s first XI. Part of that was due to fitness, some older players not able to recover on two days’ rest. A potential stretch of four games in 11 days was another concern. With Saturday’s game in Colorado a possible chance to avoid the Eastern Conference knockout round, domestic concerns prevailed.

The Dynamo still had enough quality to present a decent product, if one squad’s rotation was the only issue. It wasn’t. Olimpia was also playing on two day’s rest, except they had to travel 1900 miles in the interim. They also had to play without one of their prominent players, Honduran international Johnny Palacios suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards.

Those type of contraints aren’t unique to CONCACAF. Other regions deal with identical issues but have seen their confederation tournaments blossom. Fixture congestion is a bigger issue in Europe, where domestic cup competitions play a more prominent role. Still, UEFA Champions League is the biggest club competition in the world. Travel is a much greater concern in Asia, yet the AFC continues to make small strides with its regional championship.

There is, however, one constraint unique to CONCACAF, an obstacle that took center stage Tuesday night. As referee Juan Carlos Guerra kept his cards pocketed through most of the first half, players started questioning (and testing) how far the rules would be stretched. Fuses blew near halftime and players started confronting each other, with Kinnear eventually earning an ejection. After streaming into the ear of assistant referee Hermenerito Leal as he left the field, Kinnear watched the final 50 minutes from the locker room.

Predictably, the second half descended into chaos. Starting with Brian Ching’s booking in the 56th minute, Guerra showed seven yellow cards in a 28-minute window. Houston’s Giles Barnes delivered a two-footed, studs-up tackle, Ching was shoved into a goalpost, Calen Carr pushed goalkeeper Donis Escobar to the ground, and Olimpia defender Brayan Beckeles “cleaned out” Carr with sliding tackle. Only two of those incidents were booked.

Multiple times in the second half, players went face-to-face, letting their frustrations reach the edge of transgression. Yet nobody saw straight red, and it wasn’t until Beckeles picked up a second yellow in the 79th minute that an out-of-hand match lost a player.

Did the referee lose control of the match? That cliché’s used so often it’s difficult to remember what it means. Tuesday, however, may have provided an illustration. After only one yellow card was shown during first half aggressions, players started acting with disregard for punishment, knowing it was unlikely Guerra would escalate from reticence to dismissals. That initial reticence led to the game’s seven-card second half.

None of the day’s eight UEFA Champions League games approached this level of disorder. It was chaos you’d rarely see in Asia or South America’s championships. When you do, it’s usually fan behavior that causes the confusion, not mayhem between the lines.

In CONCACAF, the scene happens too often. Even if Tuesday’s reached a rare depth, confusion is something coaches have come to account for in their preparation. You don’t know if the breaks will go for or against you, but when a referee gives a performance like Guerra’s, you know there will be more random, unpredictable breaks than usual. Your team has to be mentally prepared to play through them.

It’s unlikely this is a problem of fairness – one team being helped more than the other. It is, however, a problem or quality. It’s a problem of perception. It’s an issue for a product that’s struggling to gain traction across the confederation.

Though Major League Soccer fans often complain about the league’s officiating, the problem almost never approaches depths that are commonplace in CCL. It never holds back the competition.

On Tuesday, Andre Hainault’s second half header secured a 1-1 draw, moving Houston into quarterfinals. With the challenges of Champions League on full display, the result became an afterthought.

Manchester United vs Leeds, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos


Manchester United welcomes Leeds to Old Trafford on Wednesday as a stung foe heads to Manchester days after a managerial change (watch live, 3pm ET on USA Network and online via

Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday, and fellow American boss Chris Armas will be among the men guiding the club as it seeks a new boss and a way out of the relegation scrap.

Marsch helped Leeds bound out of the bottom three last season but the club has struggled of late and enters this Premier League midweek match in 17th only by virtue of tiebreakers.


Man United, meanwhile, has won four-straight across all competitions ahead of two-straight matches against Leeds (the second, at Elland Road, is Sunday).

The Red Devils can pull level with second-place Man City on points with a win on Tuesday

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United vs Leeds.

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How to watch Manchester United vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via

Key storylines & star players

Marcus Rashford had scored in six of United’s last seven Premier League matches and he’s zipped up the PL goals list as one of just six players with at least 10 goals this season.

One player Rashford is likely to pass is fellow 10-goal man Rodrigo, who will not play for Leeds. The visitors will be looking to new signings Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie to help lead the way, while Wilfried Gnonto and Jack Harrison seem likely to keep pestering opponents with pace.

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antony (lower leg). OUT: Mason Greenwood (suspension), Anthony Martial (undisclosed), Scott McTominay (other), Casemiro (suspension), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Sonny Perkins (ankle). OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Rodrigo (ankle/foot)

Premier League table, 2022-23 season


If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

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After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.

Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.

Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.

Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Southampton vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, team news


Southampton host Wolves in a huge relegation six-pointer in the Premier League and all of the pressure is on the hosts.


After a dreadful run of form which has seen new manager Nathan Jones lose six of his first seven Premier League games in charge, including a 3-0 drubbing at Brentford last week, Southampton sit bottom of the table. However, they are just three points from safety and badly need a win to unite their fanbase, players and coaching staff.

Wolves are looking so much better under new manager Julen Lopetegui as they hammered Liverpool 3-0 last time out to move further away from the bottom three. Lopetegui has won three of his six Premier League games in charge but they remain just two points off the relegation zone.

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Here’s everything you need for Southampton vs Wolves.

How to watch Southampton vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via

Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Saints are in freefall and if they lose this game it feels like Nathan Jones will lose his job. The Welsh coach went on a bizarre rant following their shellacking at Brentford and said he has pandered to others and hasn’t done his job properly ever since he arrived at Southampton in November. The owners are backing him, for now, but in midweek they admitted results have to improve. After spending big on deadline day to bring in forwards Paul Onuachu and Kamaldeen Sulemana, now is the time for Southampton to drag themselves off the bottom. If not, they could have a third manager of the season very soon.

Wolves were brilliant against Liverpool and have found a great system for the players they have with the 4-4-2 working wonders. Lopetegui is famed for having a solid foundation defensively but the big change has been Wolves being much better on the counter and finally finishing off chances. After bringing in Sarabia, Cunha, Lemina and Dawson in January they have added experience and quality in key areas and it seems to have given the entire club a lift.

Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

Kyle Walker-Peters should be fully fit after a recent hamstring issue, while Alex McCarthy remains a doubt and Valentino Livramento and Juan Larios are definitely out. Onuachu and Sulemana should start, while Nathan Jones has favored a 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks so it will be intriguing to see if he persists with that despite fan unrest towards his tactics.

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

Chiquinho, Sasa Kalajdzic and Boubacar Traore remain out, while Pedro Neto will miss this game. Mario Lemina is a doubt, while Hwang Hee-chan is out after suffering a thigh injury. Adama Traore, Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho could come into the starting lineup given these injuries.


West Ham vs Chelsea: How to watch live, stream link, team news


West Ham host Chelsea on Saturday in a massive London derby as both teams aim to kick-start their respective campaigns.


The Hammers have improved in recent weeks as they beat Everton and drew at Newcastle last time out. David Moyes’ men are still hovering just above the relegation zone but it looks like they will now kick on in the second half of the season and they usually fare well against their bitter London rivals Chelsea.

As for the Blues, they have won just once in their last six Premier League games but they are becoming very tough to beat, and score against, under Graham Potter. Three shutouts in a row have them on a three-game unbeaten run and now they have all of their January additions on board, expect Chelsea to climb closer to the top four.

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Here’s everything you need for West Ham vs Chelsea.

How to watch West Ham vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via

Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The Hammers are slowly getting back to their best and Nayef Aguerd has been in fine form at center back and is now fully fit after arriving in the summer. Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Michail Antonio have been among the goals in recent games and there is a menacing look to West Ham on the counter.

Chelsea’s new signing Enzo Fernandez made a great impact on his debut against Fulham last time out, while Badiashile has also impressed at center back, while Mudryk and Madueke are both getting up to speed on the wing. Joao Felix will finally be available again after he missed the last three games due to his red card on debut.

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

Kurt Zouma (thigh) and Maxwel Cornet (calf) remain out, while Gianluca Scamacca is battling back from a knee injury. Alphonse Areola and Thilo Kehrer are struggling with hamstring issues. It will be intriguing to see if Moyes starts with January signing Danny Ings up top in this game or if he continues with Michail Antonio as the focal point.

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja remain out, while Wesley Fofana and Mateo Kovacic are close to being available. Denis Zakaria and Edouard Mendy are out too, but Joao Felix is back from suspension which gives Potter a very lively option up top and it would be no surprise if the Portuguese stars starts this game.