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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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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