THE SOCCER REPORT

International leagues take break for friendlies; U.S. women advance

Mallory Pugh, 20, and the U.S. Women's National Team have qualified for next summer's FIFA Women's World Cup. Team USA will be looking to defend their crown and pick up their fourth World title. Nike

USWNT punch ticket to 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, England manhandles Spain and Germany’s woes continue against France

The second international break post-2018 FIFA World Cup left plenty to talk about, from the World Champion France to the regionals like the rebuilding United States. On the Women’s side of things, a few more spots for next year’s Women’s World Cup were clinched. In club soccer, Major League Soccer had a few matches with playoff implications.

International Friendlies

Outside of the UEFA Nations League, European sides tested themselves in friendlies to stay active during the international break. The big nations on this side of the world played in friendlies in preparation for their continental tournaments next season.

The United States men’s national team is one of several who are still on a coaching search. The USA opted for a young roster to gain experience against 2018 World Cup participants in Colombia and Peru. Mexico is also in the same boat and tested themselves against Costa Rica and current South American champion Chile. Argentina and Brazil took their brands on the road to Saudi Arabia where they added another chapter to their rivalry. Uruguay went on tour in Asia where they were defeated by both of their hosts in South Korea and Japan.

Notable results:

Italy 1-1 Ukraine

Iraq 0-4 Argentina

Wales 1-4 Spain

USA 2-4 Colombia

Mexico 3-2 Costa Rica

South Korea 2-1 Uruguay

Saudi Arabia 0-2 Brazil

Peru 3-0 Chile

Scotland 1-3 Portugal

Japan 4-3 Uruguay

Argentina 0-1 Brazil

Belgium 1-1 Netherlands

Colombia 3-1 Costa Rica

USA 1-1 Peru

Mexico 0-1 Chile

UEFA Nations League

The Nations League has added another level of competition to European international soccer, making more of mere friendlies and putting higher stakes on these matches. The format may be a bit complicated to grasp at first but it is essentially what the name entails, a league, with financial incentives for the teams that perform best. Countries are paired off in groups with promotion and relegation, with the champion to be crowned next summer. The tournament also influences the qualifying process for Euro 2020.

France handed Germany a 2-1 loss, their sixth in 10 matches, while England handed Spain their first home loss in 15 years.

Notable results:

Poland 2-3 Portugal

Belgium 2-1 Switzerland

Croatia 0-0 England

Netherlands 3-0 Germany

Ireland 0-0 Denmark

Russia 2-0 Turkey

Poland 0-1 Italy

Iceland 1-2 Switzerland

Spain 2-3 England

France 2-1 Germany

Ireland 0-1 Wales

Ukraine 1-0 Czech Republic

Concacaf Nations League Qualifying

Following in the footsteps of Europe, Concacaf (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) has instituted their own Nations League. The qualifying rounds continued during this FIFA date with the top 10 sides also booking their place in next year Concacaf Men’s Championship, known as the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Top 10: 1. Curaçao (6), 2. Haiti (6), 3. Canada(6), 4. Cuba(6), 5. Saint Kitts and Nevis (6), 6. Jamaica (6), 7. Dominican Republic (6), 8. Nicaragua (6), 9. Martinique (6), 10. El Salvador (6)

Notable results:

U.S. Virgin Islands 0-5 Curaçao

Dominican Republic 3-0 Cayman Islands

Puerto Rico 0-1 Martinique

El Salvador 3-0 Barbados

Bonaire 0-6 Jamaica

Nicaragua 6-0 Anguilla

Canada 5-0 Dominica

Saint Lucia 1-2 Haiti

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2018 Concacaf Women's Championship

The U.S. Women’s National Team assured secured a spot in their eight FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday with a 6-0 win over Jamaica, also advancing to the Concacaf Women’s Championship Final. Canada booked their spot to France 2019 as well with a 7-0 win over Panama. The two giants of the region will face off for the Concacaf title on Wednesday night in what will also serve as a preparation for next summer’s tournament. Jamaica and Panama will face off in the third place match with a spot to the Women’s World Cup on the line. Mexico and Costa Rica were left disappointed after being denied qualification in their final game of the group stage.

Group A: USA (9), Panama (6), Mexico (3), Trinidad and Tobago (0)

Group B: Canada (9), Jamaica (6), Costa Rica (3), Cuba (0)

Semifinals: Canada def. Panama, 7-0; USA def. Jamaica 6-0 [Highlights].

Third-place match: Panama vs. Jamaica

Championship match: USA vs. Canada

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Major League Soccer

Eight teams were in action across four matches this weekend as the MLS playoff race continues to take shape. The weekend slate started on Friday night in La La land as LAFC defeated the Houston Dynamo 4-2 to jump Kansas City for second in the Western Conference (the top two seeds get a bye through the wild card round). Mauro Manotas scored the opening goal for the Dynamo before a two-hour weather delay (lighting) would prolong the second half. LAFC would regroup with the break and score four unanswered goals over the course of the match. Andrew Wenger scored a consolation goal late to dwindle the difference down to two.

The only other match this weekend with playoff implications involved the rejuvenated D.C. United against the West’s No. 1 seed FC Dallas. FCD could not increase the gap between them and the rest of the West while D.C. won their third straight to officially jump into the playoff picture. Transformed into a contender by the summer arrival of former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney, D.C. jumped Montreal in the standings and controls their destiny with one extra game in hand. In other action, Colorado won 2-0 at Minnesota and New England defeated Orlando City at home - both matches of teams already eliminated from the playoff race.

East top six: 1. Atlanta United (66), 2. NY Red Bulls (65), 3. NYC FC (53), 4. Philadelphia (50), 5. Columbus (48), 6. D.C. United (44).

West top six: 1. FC Dallas (57), 2. LAFC (56), 3. Sporting KC (53), 4. Portland (51), 5. Seattle (50), 6. Real Salt Lake (46).

Scoring leader: 30 - Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Assists leader: 17 - Borek Dockal (Philadelphia Union)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

For a primer on all the league action before the FIFA International break, check out last week’s soccer recap.

Wednesday, October 17

6:30 p.m. - [MLS] D.C. United vs. Toronto FC (ESPN+)

6:30 p.m. - [MLS] Orlando City SC vs. Seattle Sounders FC (ESPN+)

7 p.m. - [Concacaf Women's Championship] Final - USA vs. Canada (FS2)

9 p.m. - [MLS] Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sporting KC (ESPN+)

Thursday, October 18

8 p.m. - [MLS] Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution (ESPN+)

Friday, October 19

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Dusseldorf (FS2)

2 p.m. - [La Liga] Celta Vigo vs. Alaves (beIN Sports en Espanol)

9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Atlas vs. Veracruz (Univision Deportes)

Saturday, October 20

6 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Levante (beIN Sports)

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Chelsea vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich (FS1/Univision Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Stuttgart vs. Dortmund (FOX Deportes)

9 a.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Valencia vs. Leganes (beIN Sports en Espanol)

11 a.m. - [Serie A] Juventus vs. Genoa (ESPN+)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Liverpool F.C. (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports en Espanol)

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Schalke 04 vs. Werder Bremen (FS2)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla (beIN Sports en Espanol)

5 p.m. - [Liga MX] Queretaro vs. Cruz Azul (ESPN Deportes/Univision Deportes)

7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Pachuca vs. Santos Laguna (ESPN Deportes)

7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club America vs. Tijuana (Univision/Facebook)

9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Necaxa vs. Leon (Univision)

Sunday, October 21

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg (FS2)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Eibar vs. Athletic Bilbao (beIN Sports en Espanol)

10 a.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Crystal Palace (NBC Sports)

11 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Moenchengladbach vs. Mainz (FS2)

11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] Huesca vs. Espanyol (beIN Sports en Espanol)

12 p.m. - [Liga MX] Lobos BUAP vs. Chivas (Univision)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Inter Milan vs. A.C. Milan (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Betis vs. Valladolid (beIN Sports en Espanol)

2 p.m. - [MLS] Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire (ESPN)

2 p.m. - [MLS] All other Eastern Conference matches (ESPN+)

4 p.m. - [MLS] Minnesota United vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN)

4 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC (KUBE57)

4 p.m. - [MLS] All other Western Conference matches (ESPN+)

5 p.m. - [Liga MX] UNAM vs. Tigres (Univision Deportes)

7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Morelia vs. Puebla (Univision Deportes)

9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monterrey vs. Toluca (FOX Deportes)

Monday, October 22

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Sampdoria vs. Sassuolo (ESPN+)

2 p.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

2 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. Girona (beIN Sports)

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Up next: The Aggies face Mississippi State. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Two weeks after the season seemed like it had come to an ugly end only in week two for the Aggies, they are right back in the thick of things. Now I already know what you’re thinking as you read that last sentence. As much as A&M fans would like to forget the Appalachian State loss, myself included, it's not going anywhere. Even though Texas A&M has defeated back-to-back top 15 nationally ranked opponents, the easy and well-deserved knock on this squad is, “they lost to App State”. An App State team that is a Hail Mary away from being only 2-2 might I add. However, these past two weeks for the Ags have shown that positive things can come from your biggest disappointments.

Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies had two options after that App State loss. One, admit that they just didn't have it this year in week two, settle for another 8-4 or worse year and try again next season. Or, take a long look in the mirror, realize some uncomfortable decisions had to be made and try to make a statement moving forward. I believe they chose option two because the Aggies have rattled off wins against #13 Miami and #10 Arkansas in back-to-back weeks. Now I’m willing to admit Miami probably didn’t deserve that ranking after falling to Middle Tennessee State. But the weight of that game was felt by all Aggies, especially Head Coach Jimbo Fisher.

This past week the Maroon and White were able to knock out a really good and really experienced Arkansas Razorback team. After starting slow and sloppy, which has unfortunately become a trend for this Texas A&M team, the Aggies found some rhythm on offense after an explosive Devon Achane 63-yard run. The defense was solid once again showing the bend don't break mentality, best exemplified when Chris Russell Jr. knocked the ball out of KJ Jefferson’s hands at the goal line. Tyreek Chappell and Demani Richardson then turned that fumble recovery into six points on a wacky scoop and score. The Hogs didn't go away quietly though, as they found themselves lining up for a game-winning field goal with 90 seconds left on the clock. What followed is what will forever be known by the Aggies as the “Oink Doink” as Texas A&M got their season back on track.

The next 2 games will make or break A&M’s season, however, as they will travel to Starkville for the first true road game of the year against Mississippi State. Then to Tuscaloosa to face off against Alabama for possibly the most anticipated SEC matchup of the season. If the Ags can somehow manage to go 2-0 in this stretch they will without a doubt find themselves back in the top 10 and in the playoff conversation once again. This Saturday's afternoon matchup with the Bulldogs will be the toughest test yet for Jimbo and his Aggies. Quarterback Will Rogers can sling it and the defense is very experienced throughout. Max Johnson has been solid for the Ags but hasn't lit up the stat sheet by any means, so it will be interesting to see if Mississippi State turns this into a shootout, or if A&M keep this a defensive battle like most of their games have been so far. My feeling is the Aggies have a breakout offensive performance and win this one 30-24, to set up a huge showdown with Alabama and Nick Saban in week six.

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