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 Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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