The club season takes its final pause of 2019 for the last FIFA international break of the year, one that will see the U.S. facing Canada in a must-win revenge match while Mexico closes out what has so far been a successful first year under new coach Tata Martino with a CONCACAF Nations League match against Panama.
The Americas: After last month’s loss to Canada in Toronto, the U.S. needs a win in Friday’s rematch in Orlando (ESPN2, TUDN, UniMas, 4 p.m. PST), a win next week over Cuba and a superior goal differential over Canada to advance to the Nations League semifinal. The Americans will have to do all that without their best player, their starting goalkeeper and their captain since Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen and Michael Bradley will miss the games because of injuries. Mexico, meanwhile, will take a three-game winning streak into Friday’s return-leg match with Panama (TUDN, UniMas, 6 p.m. PST), a team it beat 3-1 last month. With a draw Friday, Mexico will win its group and advance to the tournament semifinals. Also on Friday, neighbors and bitter rivals Brazil and Argentina will meet in a friendly in Saudi Arabia (beIN Sports, 9 a.m. PST). Argentina, which has called up Lionel Messi for the match, hasn’t lost since falling to Brazil in the Copa America semifinals in July. Brazil will be without the injured Neymar.
Europe: Qualifying for next year’s European Championships resumes Saturday with Belgium and Russia, who are already through to the tournament, meeting in St. Petersburg in a game that could decide the group winner (TUDN, UniMas, 9 a.m. PST). Belgium leads Russia by three points in the table with two games left. Germany faces a more precarious situation heading into its Saturday match with Belarus (TUDN, UniMas, 11:30 a.m. PST). The Germans are tied atop the table with the Netherlands and can advance to the Euros with a win over Belarus and a Northern Ireland loss or draw with the Netherlands. Anything short of that could set up a winner-take-all qualifying final next week.