Friday, July 31, 2015

Games to watch: Confederations Cup, MLS, CONCACAF World Cup qualifying

Brazil vs. Japan

Games to watch: Confederations Cup, MLS, CONCACAF World Cup qualifying

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Brazil vs. Japan 

2:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN/Univision) 

The FIFA Confederations Cup kicks off with a must-win game for host nation Brazil. It’s a warm-up for next year’s World Cup, and the Seleçao will be under pressure to win on home soil. Their star-studded roster includes Neymar, who recently signed for Spanish power Barcelona. Japan is led by Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa. 

FC Dallas at Portland Timbers 

5:00 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) 

Two of the best teams in MLS face off in the raucous confines of Portland’s JELD-WEN Field. Portland’s Diego Valeri is one of MLS’ best playmakers and Will Johnson is a do-it-all dynamo alongside him. Dallas counters with a powerful strike force in Blas Pérez and Kenny Cooper. 

South Korea women at United States 

7:00 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3.com) 

Abby Wambach is just three goals away from tying Mia Hamm’s all-time women’s soccer scoring record. She’ll have two chances to reach the mark over the next few days: this game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass, and Thursday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J (7:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC Sports Network). 

Mexico vs. Italy 

2:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN/Univision) 

Rio de Janeiro’s fabled Estadio Maracanã plays host to a clash of giants in theConfederations Cup.  

Mexico is reeling after being held to a scoreless draw at home by Panama in a World Cup qualifier this past Tuesday. With coach José Manuel de la Torre’s job under threat, El Tri needs to get its star-studded attack in gear. 

The Confederations Cup offers an escape from the pressure of qualifying, but there are still big-time teams to face. Italy is led by two savvy veterans: midfielder Andrea Pirlo and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. 

Tahiti vs. Nigeria 

2:45 p.m. Monday (ESPN/Univision)

If you thought Tahiti was just a vacation destination, think again. The island nation won the 2012 Oceania Nations Cup, which won them a trip to Brazil this year. The team will be a huge underdog in a group that includes Nigeria, Spain, and Uruguay, but plenty of neutral fans will cheer for an upset. 

Honduras at United States 

9:00 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN at 8:30, UniMás at 8:00) 

After wins over Jamaica and Panama, the U.S. caps off a three-game stretch of World Cup qualifiers with one last big test. Honduras beat the U.S. in San Pedro Sula at the start of qualifying. Clint Dempsey and red-hot Jozy Altidore will be out for revenge at Rio Tinto Stadium near Salt Lake City. 

Brazil vs. Mexico 

2:30 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN/Univision) 

It’s pretty amazing that these two powerhouses are in the same group with Italy. One of the three won’t make it to the Confederations Cup semifinals. The loser of this game could end up on the outside looking in. 

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