THE SOCCER REPORT

Cristiano Ronaldo gets 700th goal; Bulgaria-England blemished by racist chants

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is the only active player with 700 goals to his name. Credit: Nike, Inc.

With international soccer taking center stage due, this week's soccer recap centers around all the action in the men's FIFA international break. The following are the top stories of the international break.

Note: Scroll to the end of the article for top upcoming matches as top division club football resumes on the weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo reaches 700 career goals

A 72nd minute penalty ultimately played little part in the outcome of the match as Ukraine defeated Portugal 2-1 in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. It carries importance because it was the 700th career goal in Cristiano Ronaldo's illustrious career, the only active player to reach the mark and one that places him alongside historic goalscorers Pelé, Romário, Josef Bican, Gerd Müller and Ferenc Puskás. It is also CR7's 95th goal for Portugal.

UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying blemished by racist chants towards England players

England defeated Bulgaria with an emphatic 6-0 win in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying. The conversation coming out of this encounter, however, is two stoppages during the match due to racist "monkey chants" directed towards England players. The English Football Association released a statement following the match to confirm its players were subjects of "abhorrent racist chanting" and has asked UEFA, Europe's governing body in football, to investigate the matter.

The match was already taking place with reduced capacity due to previous UEFA sanctions on Ukraine for a prior incident regarding racist chants.

Turkish players defy UEFA with another military salute

For the second time in four days, Turkish national team players displayed a salute - understood to be a display of solidarity with Turkish forces involved in the invasion of Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria. German Bundesliga club Fortuna Dusseldorf released a statement on Friday to explain that the involvement of two of their players do not coincide with the values of the club.

UEFA does not allow for political statements during its matches.

Sergio Ramos passes Iker Casillas on Spain's all-time appearances list

Sergio Ramos became Spain's most capped player after featuring in his 168th match with the senior national team. Spain drew 1-1 at Norway in EURO 2020 qualifying and will play at Sweden on Tuesday.

Iker Casillas, now the second-most capped player and Spain's captain during the 2010 FIFA World Cup title, sent a congratulatory message to Ramos on social media.

Neymar injured in Brazil friendly

Senegal win 2019 WAFU Cup of Nations

Tournament hosts Senegal defeated defending champions Ghana 3-1 on penalties to be crowned 2019 WAFU Cup of Nations Champions.

USA, Mexico enter Concacaf Nations League play

The giants of Concacaf have officially entered the Nations League and, after the USA's 7-0 win over Cuba and Mexico's 5-1 win at Bermuda, talk has escalated over whether the competition brings any real value to them.

In the case of the United States, a true test will come in Canada on Tuesday as the top spot of their group is on the line. For a young Mexican squad, the story is off the field where sanctions could be imposed in Tuesday's match against Pamana if a certain "anti-gay" chant is heard.

Venezuela plays first match on home soil since 2017 World Cup qualifiers

Not since October 5, 2017 had the Venezuelan men's national team played within its country's borders. Since 2018, "La Vinotinto" had played in exhibition matches all over the world including the United States, Spain and Qatar. Venezuela competed in last year's Copa America tournament in Brazil, the closest it had been to home soil.

Friday's match in Caracas, a 4-1 win over Bolivia, was also the first match in the nation's capital in eight years. The national team played there again on Monday, picking up a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago.

Indian Super League to became country's top division

The Indian Super League will hold the stature of being the top division of Indian football with the start of the 2019-20 season. The ISL held it's first season in 2014. The I-League, India's top tier for 23 years, will become the second tier and later have promotion to the ISL in 2022-23.

Battle of the Koreas

North Korea and South Korea played to a nil-nil draw in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying. The first of the two "Korean Derby" matches took place in Pyongyang on Tuesday. It is the first time the match takes place in North Korea since a 1990 friendly. The match was played with limited media coverage and was not televised.

TV listings (All Times CT):

Tuesday, October 15

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA EURO Qualifying] Sweden vs. Spain (ESPNEWS, UniMas, TUDN)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA EURO Qualifying] Switzerland vs. Ireland (ESPN3, TUDNxtra)

6:30 p.m. - [Concacaf Nations League] Canada vs. USA (ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN)

8:30 p.m. - [Concacaf Nations League] Mexico vs. Panama (UniMas, TUDN)

Wednesday, October 16

6:00 p.m. - [USL Championship] Indy Eleven vs. Swope Park Rangers (ESPN+)

Thursday, October 17

6:00 p.m. - [Uruguay First Division] Peñarol vs. Boston River (GolTV)

Friday, October 18

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayer Leverkusen (FS2, TUDN)

1:45 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Nice vs. PSG (beIN Sports)

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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