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.

FOX Sports will carry English broadcasts of matches in the United States.

The eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off on Friday with host nation France facing South Korea. Similar to the men's edition, the women's is played every four years to determine which nation reigns supreme in international soccer.


The basics

Who: 24 nations played their way in through qualifiers. Teams are divided into groups of four with the top two from each group and four third place teams advancing to the knockout stage. During the group stage, a win is worth three points, a tie is worth one and a loss is worth zero.

The knockout round consists of single elimination matches until one team is left.

What: A new FIFA Women's champion will be decided

When: June 7 to July 7

Where: Matches will take place across nine French cities - Lyon, Paris, Nice, Montpellier, Rennes, Le Havre, Valenciennes, Reims and Grenoble.

How to watch

Matches will be broadcast in the United States in English on FOX, FS1 or FS2 and in Spanish on Telemundo, Telemundo Deportes and NBC Universo.

A list of TV listings can be found here: https://www.fifa.com/womensworldcup/matches/

Which team is favored to win

Depending on where you look, the United States and France are the main favorites to win followed by Germany. England, Netherlands, Australia Japan and Canada round out the list of teams with a chance to surprise.

The United States are the defending champions after winning at Canada 2015 and are looking to become the second nation to win back-to-back Women's World Cups after Germany (2003, 2007). France are favored due to their quality of players and the fact that they are playing at home. It is expected, if both win their groups, that the U.S. and France face off in the quarterfinals.

Players to keep and eye on

Alex Morgan (USA), Sam Kerr (Australia), Eugenie Le Sommer (France), Kim Little (Scotland), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Tobin Heath (USA)


SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome