THE SOCCER REPORT

U.S. Men host Chile in Houston, Cristiano Ronaldo exits early from Portugal match

Christian Pulisic highlights Team USA's roster to face Chile on Tuesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. Courtesy: Nike, Inc.

This week's international fixtures continue with a local connection to the action as the U.S. Men's National Team is set to host reigning South American Champion Chile at BBVA Compass Stadium. It will be the fourth match, and toughest test yet, for Manager Gregg Berhalter since being appointed to the position back in December.

Team USA is 3-0-0 under Berhalter after defeating Ecuador, 1-0, in a friendly last Friday in Orlando. The current roster includes 15 players who ply their trade domestically in Major League Soccer and is headlined by 20-year-old Bundesliga star Christian Pulisic, who will join Premier League club Chelsea this summer after a $73 million move.

Tickets still remain for tonight's match with just over half of the stadium expected to be full. Attendance has been an issue for the USMNT following their failure to qualify to the last year's FIFA World Cup, but the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority will be hoping to attract as big a crowd as possible in their efforts for Houston to be a 2026 FIFA World Cup host city.


International Friendlies

Among some of the other international friendlies that stood out where Venezuela's 3-1 victory over Argentina in Madrid, Spain. Despite it being an exhibition, much of the headlines after would be about Lionel Messi's window to win a championship with his home country. The FC Barcelona star left the national team after that match as an injury precaution. Among those that featured where also Atlanta United teammates Gonzalo Martinez (Argentina) and Josef Martinez (Venezuela), the latter scoring the final goal of the game via a penalty.

Mexico began life with their new coach Gerardo Martino with a 3-1 win over Chile in San Diego, California. The win provided many talking points and positives for El Tri as they, like the United States, prepare for this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup. Mexico hosts Paraguay on Tuesday night in Santa Clara, California.

Panama tied Brazil 1-1 in Portugal where former Houston Dynamo Adolfo Machado scored for the Central Americans in their historic draw with the five-time FIFA World Cup champs.

UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers

One of the bigger international tournaments besides the FIFA World Cup is the European Championship. The 2020 edition, to be disputed across 12 European countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition, is undergoing it's qualification stage. One of the thrillers this week has been Germany's 3-2 win at rival Netherlands. France, the current World Champion, continues to look strong as they demolish their competition.

A local tie to the Euro 2020 qualifiers exists as Houston Dynamo defender Aljaz "Kiki" Struna started in both of Slovenia's matches this week, the two results ending in 1-1 draws to Israel and Macedonia.

For the defending European Champions Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo suffered an injury that saw him leave their 1-1 draw with Serbia. Overlapping to club competition, many wonder how big of a hit this could be for Juventus in their aim to win the UEFA Champions League.


Concacaf Nations League

All the participants in this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup are now confirmed after action wrapped up in the Nations League tournament. Houston Dynamo midfielder Darwin Ceren was one of the players involved in pivotal matches as he started and helped El Salvador win 2-0 over Jamaica.

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Mar. 26

1:00 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Armenia vs. Finland (ESPN3, Univision Deportes)

2:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Morocco vs. Argentina (beIN Sports)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Greece (ESPN3)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Malta vs. Spain (ESPN+, Univision Deportes)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier] Italy vs. Liechtenstein (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Czech Republic vs. Brazil (ESPN3)

7:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] USA vs. Chile (ESPN2, UniMas)

9:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Mexico vs. Paraguay (UniMas)

Wednesday, Mar. 27

1:00 p.m. - [UEFA Women's Champions League] PSG vs. Chelsea (beIN Sports)

7:30 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Cruzeiro vs. Deportivo Lara (beIN Sports)

Friday, Mar. 29

2:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (FS2, Univision Deportes)

3:00 p.m. - [La Liga] Girona vs. Athletic Bilbao (beIN Sports)

Saturday, Mar. 30

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Fulham vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

9:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Freiburg vs. FC Bayern Munich (FS2, UniMas)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Watford (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Southampton (CNBC)

10:15 a.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Espanyol (beIN Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Everton (NBC Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [La Liga] Celta Vigo vs. Villarreal (beIN Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Hertha BSC Berlin (FS2)

2:30 p.m. - [MLS] San Jose Earthquakes vs. LAFC (Twitter, Univision)

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Alaves vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

8:00 p.m. - [MLS] Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo (KUBE57)

Sunday, Mar. 31

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff City vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hannover 96 vs. FC Schalke 04 (FS1, Univision Deportes)

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports)

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Huesca (beIN Sports)

5:30 p.m. - [MLS] Orlando City vs. D.C. United (FS1)

8:00 p.m. - [MLS] LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers (ESPN2)

Monday, Apr. 1

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Newcastle (NBC Sports)

The U.S. Women's National Team look to defend their FIFA Women's World Cup title and become back-to-back champs.

The Summer of Soccer is underway with the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, UEFA Nations League and international friendlies all part of the schedule this past weekend. The action is about to kick into another gear with the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup and South America's Copa America this week. Here is the week in soccer:

FIFA Women's World Cup

The premier women's international soccer competition kicked off in France with a 4-0 win by the hosts last Friday to open the competition. France is one of the favorites, and pressured to win, due to their role as the home team. The French women are also looking to match their male counterparts that became World Cup champions last summer at Russia 2018.

Germany, another of the favorites, opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over China while 2011 Champions and 2015 Runners-up Japan were held to a scoreless draw against what could be a Cinderella team in Argentina. England and Scotland faced off for the first time at the World Cup, men or women's, with the Lionesses winning 2-1 while potential dark horse Canada picked up a 1-0 win over Cameroon.

The defending champion United States joins the fray on Tuesday (2:00 p.m. CT, FOX) in what will likely be a multiple goal clinic against Thailand. For all the basics on the Women's World Cup, check out this article.

UEFA Nations League

The first ever Nations League, an attempt to get rid of "meaningless" international friendlies, looks to have been a rousing success and it could not have finished in a better way in terms of garnering media attention. European football's golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal, the current European champions, to a second European title in three years with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.

Concacaf Gold Cup

The biannual tournament to determine the champion of North America, Central America and the Caribbean - the region governed by Concacaf - kicks off on Saturday. The United States enter as the defending champions but it is Mexico, the nation with the most titles in the competition, who enter as the favorites to win it all.

Mexico fared well with a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela in Atlanta on Wednesday followed by a 3-2 win over Ecuador on Sunday up in Arlington, TX. The United States enter with doubts after a 0-1 loss to Jamaica in Washington D.C. and a 0-3 loss to Venezuela in Cincinnati.

CONMEBOL Copa America

South America also has a tournament kicking off this weekend in the revered Copa America. Hosts Brazil are always in the spotlight because of their star-studded squad and will be expected to win despite losing Neymar to injury this past week. Of course, as it has been for several editions now, the main storyline will be if Lionel Messi can finally lift a trophy with Argentina. With what many consider as the best in the world (and best all-time by others) in his prime, the time seems now or never for Messi to conquer the quadrennial tournament as well of the hearts of his country - and what a story it would be to do it on rival turf.

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