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.

Credit: Major League Soccer

Seattle Sounders FC return to the pinnacle of American soccer after defeating Toronto FC 3-1 in front of 69,274 spectators on Sunday - a new record for a sporting event at CenturyLink Field. Across the Atlantic, Liverpool widened the gap between themselves and defending champions Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Among the other top stories this week:

  • USWNT picked up 3-2 win vs. Sweden, 6-0 win over Costa Rica in Andonovski's debut as Head Coach
  • Judge grants class action status to USWNT in gender discrimination lawsuit
  • Ecuador's Independiente del Valle wins 2019 Copa Sudamericana
  • Barcelona / Real Madrid tied atop La Liga
  • Bayern Munich rout rivals Dortmund

Major League Soccer

The 2019 MLS season concluded with the MLS Cup championship game on Sunday. Seattle Sounders FC and Toronto FC met in the final for the third time in the last four years. Seattle defeated Toronto by a 3-1 scoreline to collect their second MLS Cup - joining the Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City with two league titles (only LA Galaxy and D.C. United have more with five and four, respectively).

2019 Major League Soccer Awards

  • MLS Cup Champion: Seattle Sounders FC
  • MLS Supporters Shield Champion: Los Angeles FC
  • Most Valuable Player: Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC)
  • Defender of the Year: Ike Opara (Minnesota United FC)
  • Goalkeeper of the Year: Vito Mannone (Minnesota United FC)
  • Coach of the Year: Bob Bradley (Los Angeles FC)
  • Rookie of the Year: Andre Shinyashiki (Colorado Rapids)
  • Newcomer of the Year: Carles Gil (New England Revolution)
  • Comeback Player of the Year: Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
  • Golden Boot: Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC) with 34 goals [MLS record]
  • Humanitarian of the Year: Matt Lampson (LA Galaxy)
  • Referee of the Year: Allen Chapman
  • Assistant Referee of the Year: Brian Dunn
  • Goal of the Year: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United FC)
  • Save of the Year: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
2019 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper - Vito Mannone (Minnesota United FC) / Defenders - Ike Opara (Minnesota United FC), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC) / Midfielders - Eduard Atuesta (LAFC), Carles Gil (New England Revolution), Maxi Moralez (New York City FC), Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC) / Forwards - Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Josef Martínez (Atlanta United FC), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

The offseason is officially underway with a temporary trade window until Wednesday, followed by a series of offseason drafts. It is important to note that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire and will be an additional story to follow.

English Premier League

Most of the focus in the Premier League was on the battle of the top two teams from last season. Liverpool expanded the gap in the title race to a nine-point lead over Manchester City after a 3-1 win at home.

Top six: Liverpool (34), Leicester City (26), Chelsea (26), Man City (25), Sheffield Utd (17), Arsenal (17)

Scoring leader: 11 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 9 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Lionel Messi scored three in Barcelona's 4-1 win over Celta Vigo. Real Madrid collected a 4-0 win at Eibar. The two Spanish giants share the top of the table on points and are on a collision course towards their December 18th meeting.

Top six: FC Barcelona (25), Real Madrid (25), Atletico Madrid (24), Sevilla (24), Real Sociedad (23), Athletic Bilbao (20)

Scoring leader: 9 - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Assists leader: 4 - Several players tied

German Bundesliga

Bayern Munich looks to be back on the right course, responding to the dismissal of their Head Coach Niko Kovac with a 4-0 win over rivals Borussia Dortmund. Borussia Monchengladbach lead the Bundesliga standings at the moment.

Top six: Monchengladbach (25), RB Leipzig (21), Bayern Munich (21), Freiburg (21), Hoffenheim (20), Dortmund (19)

Scoring leader: 16 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 6 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Thorgan Hazard (Dortmund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: Juventus (32), Inter Milan (31), Lazio (24), Cagliari (24), Atalanta (22), Roma (22)

Scoring leader: 14 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 8 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top six: PSG (30), Marseille (22), Angers (21), St-Etiene (21), Lille (19), Montpellier (19)

Scoring leader: 9 - Moussa Dembele (Lyon), Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco)

Assists leader: 7 - Islam Slimani (Monaco) / Yoann Court (Brest)

U.S. Women begin new era

Newly appointed U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski got his first wins in a pair of friendlies after a 3-2 win over Sweden and a 6-0 rout of Costa Rica.

Copa Sudamericana

Ecuador's Independiente del Valle defeated Argentine side Club Atlético Colón with a 3-1 result at the Estadio General Pablo Rojas in Asunción, Paraguay on Saturday. This marked the first time the tournament was decided by a one match final in a neutral location. It is also Independiente del Valle's first international title. The Copa Sudamericana is South America's secondary international tournament, similar to the UEFA Europa League.

TV listings (All Times CT):

Tuesday, November 12

1:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Netherlands vs. Slovenia (GolTV)

Wednesday, November 13

10:00 a.m. - [AFCON qualifying] Cameroon vs. Cape Verde (beIN SPORTS)

Thursday, November 14

10:00 a.m. - [AFCON qualifying] Egypt vs. Kenya (beIN SPORTS)

11:00 a.m. - [EURO qualifying] Turkey vs. Iceland (ESPN2, TUDN)

1:00 p.m. - [AFCON qualifying] Ghana vs. South Africa (beIN SPORTS)

1:45 p.m. - [EURO qualifying] Czech Republic vs. Kosovo (ESPNEWS)

1:45 p.m. - [EURO qualifying] France vs. Moldova (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [EURO qualifying] France vs. Moldova (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [EURO qualifying] Portugal vs. Lithuania (TUDN)

Friday, November 15

6:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Nations League] France vs. Moldova (ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN)

8:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Nations League] Portugal vs. Lithuania (Univision, TUDN)

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