THE SOCCER REPORT

U.S. Women begin World Cup title defense, Ronaldo's Portugal wins Nations League

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.

Wilmer Cabrera accumulated a record of 32-39-22 (W-L-T) in his two and a half years with the Houston Dynamo. (Manuel Gonzalez/Deporte Total USA)

Wilmer Cabrera's tenure as the Houston Dynamo Head Coach came to an end on Tuesday. The club announced its decision to terminate the Colombian's contract to move in a different direction with nine matches left in the schedule.

KFNC's Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis was the first outlet to speak to General Manager Matt Jordan about the club's "collaborative decision" to fire Cabrera following a run of three wins in its last 17 matches. [FULL INTERVIEW]

"In talking with the board, our ownership group - from [Monday] going into [Tuesday] morning - the decision was taken to move in a different direction and to provide a fresh perspective to the group," said Jordan.

"We have the same team that had the best start in club history this year and, I'd even argue that, with the moves we made in the summer transfer window [adding defender Jose Bizama, midfielder Niko Hansen and forward Christian Ramirez] we feel that we have a good group," added Jordan. "I don't think anybody believes that our record over the last couple months is a reflection of the quality of our group."

The Dynamo took advantage of a favorable home-heavy schedule to arrive with a W-L-T record of 7-3-2 at the league-wide break for the Concacaf Gold Cup. The team resumed league play in late June and is 2-9-0 since, with seven of 11 played away from BBVA Stadium.

Struggles on the road were part of the three seasons under Cabrera - going 1-9-7 in 2017, 2-10-5 in 2018 and are 2-10-0 so far. A near perfect 12-1-4 home record helped the team return to the playoffs as the West's fourth seed in 2017 but a six-loss home record of 8-6-3 in 2018 was too much to overcome.

Cabrera led the team to the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, the club's first major championship since the 2007 MLS Cup. All five matches of that cup run took place at home.

Assistant Coach Davy Arnaud will assume the head coaching role on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. The Nederland, TX native had a 14-year playing career in MLS from 2002 to 2015 and was a member of the runners-up U.S. Men's National Team at the 2009 Gold Cup.

"He will be in consideration for the full-time position," said Jordan. "He's one of a handful of up and coming coaches, American-based coaches, that are part of a pool of coaches that will be rotating in and out with the [USA] Olympic team program."

The "extensive" search for the club's fourth full-time head coach, and third under Jordan's GM tenure, is expected to feature more competition than the two-Manager race between Cabrera and then-Interim Wade Barrett in 2016.

Off since Sunday's 2-1 loss at Philadelphia, the players return to first team training on Wednesday morning to prepare for Saturday's home match against the Colorado Rapids. The entire team was informed of Cabrera's dismissal prior to the team's official announcement.

Jordan will further address the technical staff changes in a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the team's training facility before fielding questions from the national media in a teleconference call an hour later.

"We're only six points out of the playoffs and we're right there," added Jordan. "The biggest thing for us, right now, is we need to see progression and we need to steadily chip away."

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