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Around the Leagues: Euros, Copa America Provide Plenty of Fireworks in Closing Stages

By Alex Crook, 07/14/21, 11:30AM PDT

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International Soccer Shines Brightest on Highest Stage

The European Championships and Copa America were not short on high-drama finishes at the highest levels of the international game, while U.S. Soccer’s domestic topflight rolls on in both the men’s and women’s level.

United Soccer League

Last weekend was busy across the USL landscape with seven matches taking place on Saturday and two on Sunday.

In an exciting twist of the table, Charlotte Independence held on after conceding in the 21st minute to earn a draw with Phoenix Rising FC after Irvin Parra’s goal for Charlotte in the second minute.

From an interdivision standpoint, LA Galaxy II and Tacoma Defiance shared the points with a 1-1 draw at Dignity Health Sports Park while Oakland Roots also shared points with the Indomitable Club’s next opponent, Las Vegas Lights FC. There was plenty of exciting action outside the confines of the Pacific Division, including Hartford Athletic storming back with two goals in the final five minutes to stun New York Red Bulls II with a 2-2 draw. 

It’ll be USL soccer every day of the week this week up until Sunday. New Mexico United and Charleston Battery kicked things off on Monday night from Albuquerque with a 2-1 win for the home side, while Hartford Athletic downed Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 in an Atlantic Division fixture on Tuesday.

Major League Soccer

It was a light slate for Major League Soccer over the weekend with the commencement of the Gold Cup, as six sides took to the pitch on Thursday and Friday. 

Thursday’s schedule produced two draws, highlighted by the 10-man Philadelphia Union roaring back to steal a point at New York Red Bulls with an 85th-minute equalizer by Sergio Santos. 
 
FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew rekindled their derby with a 2-2 draw the next day at TQL Stadium in the Queen City. Columbus followed in the Union’s footsteps on derby day, going down a man before earning a road point courtesy of a Miguel Berry goal in the 77th minute. 
 
A heavy docket of MLS play awaits this coming weekend, as the Colorado Rapids look to pad their playoff push against San Jose while Western Conference playoff contenders LAFC and Real Salt Lake battle it out at Banc of California Stadium. 

National Women's Soccer League

Likewise, this past weekend was light on the soccer for the NWSL. Orlando Pride broke a two-game skid and kept roaring near the top of the table with a stoppage time equalizer by Sydney Leroux against Racing Louisville, while the Washington Spirit used two first-half goals to knock off top-of-the-table North Carolina Courage.

Portland and Gotham FC played to a scoreless draw on Sunday, while Chicago Red Stars and OL Reign each picked up three points to stay in the playoff hunt. 

Looking ahead, North Carolina and Houston face off on Saturday as USWNT forward Lynn Williams and company look to get back to winning ways at the top of the table. Sunday’s NWSL slate features three matchups, highlighted by a top-three fixture in third-place Portland Thorns FC squaring off with second-place Orlando Pride. 

Gold Cup

The U.S. Men’s National Team kicked off its Gold Cup run on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Haiti in Kansas City.
 
Sam Vines headed home the lone USMNT goal in the eighth minute after Gyasi Zardes found him in the box, wide open on the far post. It was Vines’ first U.S. goal at the senior international level. 
 
Both teams looked dangerous offensively for the rest of the match, as both sides created plenty of chance for insurance or an equalizer.
Now on a four-match win streak, Gregg Berhalter’s men will continue with Group B play in the Gold Cup on July 16. The Stars and Stripes will face off against Martinique, also in Kansas City. 

Euro 2020

Italy and England gave us a Euro final for the ages on Sunday afternoon, as Luke Shaw ramped up the Wembley Stadium crowd with the fastest goal at a European Championship final to put The Three Lions ahead after a minute and 57 seconds. 
 
Italy leveled the match in the 67th minute, and the next 20 minutes couldn’t see a game winner. After the sides played through the full 30 minutes of extra time without a goal, The Azzurri pulled out the 3-2 penalty shootout win to give Italy its first Euro championship since 1968. Italian goalkeeper and penalty shootout hero Gianluigi Donnarumma was named Player of the Tournament after starting all seven of Italy’s match while playing 718 minutes and conceding just four times.
 
This was the second European Championship to be decided by penalties, after Czechoslovakia won it from the spot in 1976.

Copa America

The Brazil-Argentina rivalry renewed itself on Saturday on the highest of stages with Copa America supremacy on the line. 
 
Two potent international offenses lacked on goals, but Angel Di Maria’s left-footed chip gave Argentina the lead in the 22nd minute after Rodrigo de Paul flew a ball in from the opposite half of the pitch. 
Brazil put on a flurry of shots in the second half, including five in the final ten minutes of the match. 
 
Not only did Argentina win its first Copa America since 1993 after being runners up in four of the last six tournaments, but Lionel Messi finally got his coveted first international trophy with Argentina. 

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