THE SOCCER REPORT

Messi’s Argentina legacy on the line versus Brazil; USA face England in Women's World Cup semis

Credit: Adidas

There may be no bigger rivalry in international soccer than that of Brazil and Argentina. Now put a spot in the South American championship final on the line and one of the all-time greats as the villain of the story. That's exactly what will go down on Tuesday when Copa America hosts Brazil host Lionel Messi's Argentina. Messi is known for his decorated club career with FC Barcelona but is highly scrutinized, especially by his own people, for his lack of silverware with his home country.

The Copa America final will be one of three international finals to take place on Sunday, by the way, with the champion of the FIFA Women's World Cup and the Concacaf Gold Cup (Men's championship for North America, Central America and the Caribbean) taking place on the same day.

For all the details, here is the latest in the soccer world:

FIFA Women's World Cup

International women's soccer is down to the last four teams of the competition, including the defending champion United States. Team USA takes on England, with Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly on the roster, on Tuesday in the first semifinal. The champion will be decided Sunday against the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between the Netherlands and Sweden.

Gold Cup

Tournament favorites Mexico survived Costa Rica in the quarterfinals after a dramatic 5-4 win on penalties in front of a sellout crowd of 70,788 on Saturday at NRG Stadium. They face Haiti on Tuesday night after the Caribbean team came back to defeat Canada, 3-2, in the first game of Saturday night's doubleheader.

Defending champions Team USA had their close call against Curacao but got to the semis with a 1-0 win. They will meet Jamaica in Wednesday's semifinal in a rematch of the 2017 final.

Copa America

The South America men's championship is also down to the last four. Hosts Brazil faces off against arch-rival Argentina and defending champion Chile meets 2018 FIFA World Cup sweetheart Peru.

Africa Cup of Nations

Africa is also hosting their continental championship in international soccer this summer. The group stage final matchday will be on Tuesday and the knockout stage begins on Friday. Hosts Egypt will be a good bet the rest of the way after going a perfect 3-0-0 in their group matches.

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Major League Soccer

The Houston Dynamo dropped to seventh place in the West after losing three straight road games in the span of a week [4-0 at Portland Timbers, 2-0 at San Jose Earthquakes and 2-1 at New England Revolution]. The Dynamo return home to BBVA Stadium, where they are unbeaten in MLS matches with a 6-0-3 record, to host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night.

East top seven: 1. Philadelphia (32), 2. D.C. United (31), 3. Montreal (30), 4. Atlanta (29), 5. NY Red Bulls (27), 6. NYCFC (26), 7. Toronto (23)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (37), 2. LA Galaxy (31), 3. Seattle (29), 4. Dallas (26), 5. San Jose (25), 6. Minnesota (24), 7. Houston (24)

Scoring leader: 16 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 11 - Maxi Moralez (NYCFC)

National Women's Soccer League

Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai reached 100 NWSL matches in a 2-1 home loss to the Portland Thorns at BBVA Stadium on Saturday. The Dash travel to North Carolina this week to take on defending champions NC Courage on Friday night.

Standings: 1. Portland Thorns (19), 2. Washington Spirit (18), 3. Reign FC (17), 4. Utah Royals (17), 5. North Carolina Courage (16), 6. Chicago Red Stars (14), 7. Houston Dash (13), 8. Orlando Pride (5), 9. Sky Blue FC (2)

Scoring leader: 9 - Sam Kerr (Chicago)

Assists leader: 4 - Yuki Nagasato (Chicago)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, July 2

2:00 p.m. - [FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal] USA vs. England (FOX, Telemundo)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa America semifinal] Brazil vs. Argentina (ESPN+, Telemundo)

9:30 p.m. - [Gold Cup semifinal] Mexico vs. Haiti (FS1, Univision)

Wednesday, July 3

2:00 p.m. - [FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal] Netherlands vs. Sweden (FS1, Telemundo)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa America semifinal] Chile vs. Peru (ESPN+, Telemundo)

8:30 p.m. - [Gold Cup semifinal] USA vs. Jamaica (FS1, Univision)

Thursday, July 4

9:30 p.m. - [MLS] LA Galaxy vs. Toronto FC (ESPN+)

Saturday, July 6

10 a.m. - FIFA Women's World Cup 3rd Place (FOX, Telemundo)

2 p.m. - Copa America 3rd Place (ESPN+, Telemundo)

Sunday, July 7

10 a.m. - FIFA Women's World Cup Final (FOX, Telemundo)

3 p.m. - Copa America Final (ESPN+, Telemundo)

8 p.m. - Gold Cup Final (FS1, Univision)

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan addressed questions from fans during the first hour of Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night. Among the topics of conversation were potential player signings, concerns with player development and club operations.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A with callers to the program:

Potential Transfers

On why the Dynamo has not gone after a big name player that can fill BBVA Stadium

We're very open and we have had discussion with "big name players" ... For us, it's about getting the right players and I truly believe, through my experiences, you also have stars that grow within the league. We've seen that with our team with Alberth Elis, with Mauro Manotas - from my time in Montreal, we saw that with Ignacio Piatti. These weren't "big name stars" but they became "big name stars" so we look at all of it. We look at making our own stars, we look at some players that have been on the biggest stages and maybe a bit older but, for us, it's analyzing what's the right fit.

On the suggestion of a player like Mexico National Team Captain Andres Guardado

A lot of fans will say, "bring a big name, a Messi or Ronaldo" and that's not always realistic in the world of soccer but those are the types of profiles we do continue to look at along with making our own stars as well, which I think we've done a good job of with the two players I mentioned, who are stars in the city of Houston now.

On the reports of Cruz Azul's interest in Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas

We're getting interest in a lot of our young talented players. The two players that everyone talks about is Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis, there's also a handful of other players that we get inquiries of from abroad. A lot of the teams in the Mexican league follow our teams very closely and Cruz Azul did express interest in Mauro... [a potential transfer] has to make sense for the player, it has to make sense for the club

Player Development

On the investment in the Houston Dynamo Academy

With the support of our ownership group, over the last 18 months, have made significant investments in the academy. We hired a new academy director in Paul Holocher, we brought on what I believe are some of the brightest young coaches in the Unites States. We've really worked very hard to strengthen our partnerships and our strategic alliances here within the city of Houston, which I believe has really been a downfall of ours in the past.

On the possibility of having a locally-based USL team

We have. One thing I can tell you, we have our USL players, our academy players, our U23 players in and out with the first team all the time. With the Open Cup, we brought up several of our USL players. You'll see a couple of our USL players come up for our League's Cup game as well... of course, it's more ideal to have it next to our first team field but we're very proud of the partnership in the [Rio Grande] Valley.

Club Policies

On the Dynamo's scouting system for recruiting players for the first team...

We do have a scout in Europe that's paid by us, we have a scout in South America that's paid by us and I also have a full-time scout and analyst, here, that is in Houston working with us in our recruitment department.

What we do is we go through the annual scouting calendar, we prioritize what events we need to hit. Generally speaking, I only travel when we get to the point - myself or [Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera] or both of us together, a lot of time we'll travel together in the offseason. We only really travel when we get to [final stages of a transfer].

We use our regional contacts...What I really focus on is having one key contact in each country and, a lot of times, we go after the player, it's not that the player is presented to us by the agent. [Recent signing Jose Bizama] is a prime example, we went after Bizama and we approached the club through our process. Now, there's times where a player is presented to us as well, but more often then not we utilize those regional contacts in each country. There's a lot of times, with many of our players, we've identified them or we've gone after them when they're, maybe, not for sale and that's when the grinding starts to take place for the negotiation.

On the club hosting a town hall meeting with supporters

In this moment, I can't speak for ownership but I have no problem being in any setting and fielding questions about the team for the fans.

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The entire conversation is available on the July 16, 2019 episode of the podcast, which can be heard on iTunes, Google Podcasts and www.podcastarena.com/soccermatters/

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