FIFA U17 World Cup: USA, Germany win big to advance to quarterfinals

5-0 and 4-0 were the scorelines of Monday's FIFA U17 World Cup Round of 16 games as USA downed Paraguay 5-0 and Germany thumped Colombia 4-0. USA's Timothy Weah scored the tournament's second hat-trick in yesterday's win. 17-year-old Weah who signed with PSGthis summer is the son of former striker George Weah, the 1995 Ballon d'Or winner who played for PSG, AC Milan and Monaco during his legendary career. In the other semifinal, Germany produced a combination of sublime skill and brute power, exposing Colombia's defensive frailties with a 4-0 victory to book a place in the last eight. Captain and star striker Jann-Fiete Arp (7' and 65") struck twice, while Yann Bisseck (39') and John Yeboah (49') scored a goal each to help Germany reach the quarterfinals. USA will play the winner of England vs. Japan while Germany will take on the winner of Brazil vs. Honduras... Four more Round of 16 games will be played today:

Getty Images

Getty Images

  • Iran vs. Mexico
  • France vs. Spain
  • England vs. Japan
  • Mali vs. Iraq

On Wednesday Ghana vs. Niger and Brazil vs. Honduras round out the Round of 16. The quarterfinals will be played this Saturday and Sunday. More details can be found at FIFA.com here.

NWSL Championship Preview: North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns

On Saturday, October 14, at 4:30 pm EST the North Carolina Courage takes on the Portland Thorns in the NWSL championship match at Orlando City Stadium. The game will be televised live on Lifetime.

In the semifinals, Portland defeated Orlando 4-1 at home in front of 18,193 fans. The match pitted the league’s top offense, led by Alex Morgan and Marta, against its stingiest defense in Portland. It was Portland who prevailed with two goals on each side of the half. In the second semifinal, North Carolina slipped past Chicago 1-0 thanks to a late game-winning goal by Denise O’Sullivan in the 89th minute.

North Carolina and Portland finished #1 and #2 in the 2017 league standings so it's fitting that the two clubs face off in the championship match. The NWSL Championship will feature some of the top players in women's soccer today. A total of 11 different national teams will be represented in the game, with players from the USA, Canada, France, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Ireland, Iceland and Denmark all competing in the match. Among the players on the field will be 2016 NWSL MVP and rising star Lynn Williams and Canadian Women's National Team legend Christine Sinclair, who ranks second all-time in international goals scored. The NWSL Championship will be final NWSL game for both France Women's National Team star Amandine Henry and Denmark Women's National Team forward Nadia Nadim. Both players have been integral pieces for the Thorns over the last two seasons, but will be leaving the club for new opportunities in Europe next year.

NWSL Championship

World Cup 2018 - Who's in and who's out?

The United States, Chile, and Holland have shocking failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Qualifying began on March 12, 2015 and as of October 11, 2017, 23 nations have booked their place to join host nation Russia in next year's tournament which means there are 9 spots still up for grabs...

SOUTH AMERICA (CONMEBOL 4.5 PLACES)

With Argentina's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in jeopardy, Lionel Messi carried his nation on his back and scored a hat trick to rally his country to a 3-1 win over Ecuador and a spot in Russia next summer. Argentina join Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia while Peru will play a two-legged playoff vs. New Zealand.

EUROPE (UEFA; 13 PLACES)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal confirmed their spot at the 2018 World Cup by beating Switzerland 2-0 in their final UEFA qualifier. Anything less than a victory would have seen Portugal forced to go through a two-legged playoff, but instead they top Group B on goal difference above the Swiss, who will drop into the playoffs despite winning all nine of their previous qualifiers. France also eased into the World Cup finals by securing top spot in Group A with a 2-1 win at home to Belarus. Portugal and France join Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Serbia and Spain. Teams battling in the playoffs include Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Greece. Sadly, Gareth Bale and Wales failed to qualify. Iceland however, have become the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup, eclipsing 2006's Trinidad & Tobago. The northern European country, who famously knocked England out of Euro 2016, has a population of just over 335,000 people.

NORTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA, CARIBBEAN (CONCACAF; 3.5 PLACES)

In one of the biggest shocks of qualifying, The United States have failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. were upset in Trinidad & Tobago losing 2-1 to a second-tier Soca Warriors side while both Honduras and Panama won their games to pass the Americans in the CONCACAF standings. Honduras earned the final qualifying spot with a 3-2 victory of already-qualified Mexico and Panama scored a last gasp goal to beat Costa Rica 2-1. This is the first American group not to make the World Cup since 1986. Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama are going to Russia next summer while Honduras will play a home and away playoff series against Australia.

ASIA (AFC; 4.5 PLACES)

Iran, ranked no. 25 in the world, was the very first nation to qualify for World Cup 2018. They earned 6 wins, 4 draws and only allowed 2 goals against in 10 games. They will be going to Russia along with South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Australia will need to defeat Honduras in a playoff series to also book their tickets.

AFRICA (CAF; 5 PLACES)

We're approaching the climax of Africa's World Cup qualifying programme, with Nigeria and Egypt having booked their tickets to Russia already. Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was the hero for Egypt with a brace as the Pharaohs reached the finals for the first time in 27 years, in the process ending Ghana's feint hopes of qualification during October's 2-1 win. Egypt have only turned out at the World Cup finals on two previous occasions, in 1934 and 1990. They have never won a game at that level, so there is the chance for history to be made in 2018. Tunisia appear primed to follow them, while Morocco, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Senegal all have their destinies in their own hands as they look to secure one of the continent's five spots at for next summer's global showpiece.

Source: ESPNFC

Source: ESPNFC

FIFA: Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar lead 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the favorite to retain his Ballon d'Or as he was named to the 30-man shortlist alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski. Ronaldo, who beat Messi and Griezmann to the award last year, helped Real Madrid to a third Champions League crown in four seasons and a first La Liga title in five years, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup. He scored twice as Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final, while also finishing top scorer in the competition with 12 goals, and was one of the final names revealed by award organizers France Football on Monday.

Ronaldo is set to face competition competition from long-time rival Messi, who finished up as La Liga's top scorer with 37 goals -- 12 ahead of Ronaldo -- and helped Barcelona to Copa del Rey success in what was a largely disappointing season for the club. Spain's La Liga leads all leagues with 11 nominees, followed by the Premier League with seven, Serie A with five, Ligue 1 with four and the Bundesliga with three. PSG are the only other club with at least three, with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, and Liverpool all have two players on the list. France lead all countries with four players, ahead of Belgium, Brazil, and Spain with three each.

Ballon d'Or 2017 nominees:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Edinson Cavani (PSG), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), David De Gea (Manchester United), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Edin Dzeko (Roma), Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Isco (Real Madrid), Harry Kane (Tottenham), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (PSG), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

CONCACAF WCQ: Mexico and Costa Rica in, USA controls own destiny

Two of CONCACAF’s 3.5 spots in Russia next summer are claimed, and the race is on Tuesday at 8pm EST for that final automatic place and a date with either Australia or Syria in a last-chance playoff for finishing fourth. Costa Rica and Mexico are in for sure.

USA, on the other hand, knows a draw will most likely be good enough to leave Trinidad & Tobago with a World Cup ticket in hand, so any sort of clean sheet for USA would be enough to book a spot in Russia. However, as the U.S. Men’s National Team looks to brush T&T aside to earn the third qualifying spot two more matches with implications for that crucial fourth place position will go down -- Panama and Honduras each sit at ten points in a tie for fourth place. Panama holds the advantage thanks to their -2 goal difference, compared to Honduras’s -7. They both sit a pair of points behind the third place Americans. They each face difficult home challenges as they wrap up their qualifying campaign, with a fourth, or even third, place finish still in sight.

Tuesday's final World Cup Qualifying matches

  • CONCACAF WCQ: Trinidad & Tobago-USA 8 pm
  • CONCACAF WCQ: Honduras-Mexico 8 pm
  • CONCACAF WCQ: Panama-Costa Rica 8 pm

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Standings (as of 10.9.17)

CONCACAF World Cup Standings