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)

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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