Toronto FC head coach John Herdman is hoping his players can rediscover their confidence as they prepare to welcome Philadelphia Union to the BMO Field this weekend.

The Reds come into the game off the back of a defeat in their Canadian Championship semi-final defeat to Forge FC in the first game of their two-legged tie.

But fortunes have not been different in the MLS. Toronto have failed to win a league game since a 5-1 victory against CF Montreal back in May, losing eight of their last nine games.

That poor run of form leaves them in ninth in the Eastern Conference, with Herdman saying that the way in which his side are conceding goals is affecting their confidence on the pitch.

“When you’re on a run like this, confidence is ebbing and flowing so you are more susceptible to the big moments,” Herdman said.

“It’s a few goals that we have conceded, but it’s another goal we have conceded with a ball like that and confidence just ebbs.

“We got back into it and scored our goal. We had a few good chances, but again, I think what we saw was a commitment from our players when there is that desperation and there’s an absolute clarity that it is all on the line.”

For Philadelphia Union, meanwhile, they have endured a similar run of results that leaves them just a point ahead of bottom side D.C. United in the Eastern Conference standings.

Philadelphia’s draw with New England Revolution halted a run of five consecutive losses, but they have also not won since May – a 3-0 win over the Revs.

Head coach Jim Curtin understands the magnitude of the game between two of the division’s out of form sides and insisted that his side need to find a way of getting a result.

"Toronto is a big one for both teams. We're both struggling, both not where we want to be, I think both have more quality within their group than the point total shows,” Curtin said.

“But I've said it before you are what your record says you are, and we have to find a way to get a result.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Toronto FC – Prince Owusu

Having failed to score in six matches after picking up a calf injury, Prince Owusu found himself back among the goals for Toronto against Forge FC.

The striker has three goals from three appearances in the Canadian Championship, and he will be keen to transfer that form into the MLS, having netted six goals from 20 outings so far.

Philadelphia Union – Mikael Uhre

Over the years, three Union players (Sergio Santos, Daniel Gazdag and Mikael Uhre) have scored hat-tricks against Toronto FC since 2020, and Mikael Uhre would love to net another treble this time around.

Uhre has scored four goals in five games against the Reds, the joint-most he has managed in the MLS (Montreal and D.C. United – also four).

MATCH PREDICTION: PHILADELPHIA UNION WIN

With both sides in desperate need of a victory, Opta’s data-led simulations have Philadelphia claiming the win at the BMO Field, but their record in Toronto is far from impressive.

The Union have won just one of their last 10 meetings with Toronto on the road (D2, L7), dating back to 2015. Philadelphia’s only victory in Toronto during that time was a 2-1 win in May 2019.

Toronto FC have lost six straight regular-season matches for the sixth time since the start of the 2021 season. They had one losing streak of six or more matches in their first 14 MLS seasons (2007-20).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Toronto FC – 30.2%

Draw – 24.9%

Philadelphia Union – 44.9%

Minnesota United head coach Eric Ramsay is hopeful they can bounce back after conceding another late goal when they travel to Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

The Loons are currently on a six-match losing streak, their worst such run in club history, which has seen them drop to 10th in the Western Conference.

Minnesota conceded a 90th-minute winner against LA Galaxy last weekend, leaving Ramsay frustrated at being unable to snap their poor streak.

"It's coming down to exceptionally fine margins and what's really tough at the moment is the performances aren't too big a problem, but it's at the end of a very tough month, so it adds insult to injury," Ramsay said.

"I only take it one day at a time and try not to let the big picture loom too large. We're in a difficult period so we need to alter our expectations from what they were a month ago.

"It's a good learning curve for me as a young coach, and a test to stay positive and hope the results don't influence the day-to-day so we can keep putting out a competitive team."

Meanwhile, Houston sit two places and one point above their opponents, though their six-game unbeaten run was ended by a 3-2 defeat to Real Salt Lake.

Their previous match against Los Angeles FC was postponed due to bad weather, so after an extended break, head coach Ben Olsen is looking to improve on that performance.

"We looked a little bit unfocused, and I think we understood the task going into it, but on the pitch, we didn't, and I don't think I hammered that in enough," Olsen said.

"We were lackadaisical, gave up poor goals, played into their hands. Not the greatest performance from us, but maybe we should've come away with something."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Houston Dynamo – Ibrahim Aliyu

Ibrahim Aliyu has scored in back-to-back matches, taking his goal tally to a team-high six for the Dynamo this season.

The Nigerian has scored at least once in each of the last five months dating back to March.

Minnesota United – Teemu Pukki

Teemu Pukki scored his 13th MLS goal in Minnesota's defeat to LA Galaxy on Sunday. Six of Pukki's 13 goals have been scored in four career matches against the Galaxy, while he has scored seven times in his other 26 MLS appearances in total.

MATCH PREDICTION: HOUSTON DYNAMO WIN

Houston have won two of their last three meetings with Minnesota in all competitions (lost one), including a 2-1 road win on April 13, after losing the previous six meetings. The Dynamo have never completed a single-season league double over Minnesota before.

However, Houston have won only four of their last 14 regular-season matches (drawn five, lost five), dating back to mid-April after winning four of their previous five games (L1).

Meanwhile, Minnesota have lost six straight matches for the first time in club history. The Loons had lost five of their previous 20 games dating back to the end of last season.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Houston Dynamo – 53.2%

Draw – 24%

Minnesota United – 22.9%

Spain's Dani Olmo has said he is not afraid of England's Jude Bellingham ahead of their Euro 2024 final in Berlin on Sunday. 

Olmo has starred for La Roja in Germany, notching three goals and two assists, which crucially gives him the edge in the race for the Golden Boot ahead of Harry Kane. 

The Spaniard's statistics are more impressive having only started one of their first four games at the tournament. 

Olmo's goal against France made him the first Spanish player to score in three successive games at the European Championships. 

His five goal involvements for Luis de la Fuente's side is also the most by a Spaniard at a major tournament since David Silva at Euro 2012 (two goals, three assists). 

However, Bellingham has also shone at Euro 2024, carrying on his impressive form that saw him net 23 times in all competitions during his debut season for Real Madrid. 

Bellingham has scored twice for England at the tournament, including the Three Lions opening goal of the competition against Serbia. 

The 21-year-old's late strike against Slovakia in the last 16 was England's latest-ever goal scored in normal time at a major tournament. 

However, Olmo has insisted that he does not fear Bellingham ahead of their showdown for the Henri Delaunay Cup. 

“I'm not afraid. Bellingham is a reference point there, football is played through his boots. He is always in the thick of things," Olmo said. 

"He is a player to be taken into account, but I don't fear anyone.”

 

Spain's Dani Olmo has said he is not afraid of England's Jude Bellingham ahead of their Euro 2024 final in Berlin on Sunday. 

Olmo has starred for La Roja in Germany, notching three goals and two assists, which crucially gives him the edge in the race for the Golden Boot ahead of Harry Kane. 

The Spaniard's statistics are more impressive having only started one of their first four games at the tournament. 

Olmo's goal against France made him the first Spanish player to score in three successive games at the European Championships. 

His five goal involvements for Luis de la Fuente's side is also the most by a Spaniard at a major tournament since David Silva at Euro 2012 (two goals, three assists). 

However, Bellingham has also shone at Euro 2024, carrying on his impressive form that saw him net 23 times in all competitions during his debut season for Real Madrid. 

Bellingham has scored twice for England at the tournament, including the Three Lions opening goal of the competition against Serbia. 

The 21-year-old's late strike against Slovakia in the last 16 was England's latest-ever goal scored in normal time at a major tournament. 

However, Olmo has insisted that he does not fear Bellingham ahead of their showdown for the Henri Delaunay Cup. 

“I'm not afraid. Bellingham is a reference point there, football is played through his boots. He is always in the thick of things," Olmo said. 

"He is a player to be taken into account, but I don't fear anyone.”

 

The stage is set for what could be Lionel Messi's international swansong, as Argentina face Colombia in Sunday's Copa America final in the forward's new home of Miami.

The Hard Rock Stadium is the venue as Messi and La Albiceleste go in search of a record-breaking 16th Copa America crown, currently level with Uruguay on 15. It would also be a second in a row after they overcame old rivals Brazil in the 2021 final.

Standing in their way, however, are arguably the most impressive team at the tournament in Colombia.

Unbeaten in 28 games – a new national record – and led by a rejuvenated James Rodriguez, who is surely the favourite for Player of the Tournament honours, Los Cafeteros downed a much-fancied Uruguay side with 10 men in the last four and are sure to present a stern test.

Ahead of the showpiece game, we dive into the best Opta data surrounding the two finalists. 

What's expected?

Argentina began the tournament as favourites, being given a 30.8% chance of securing back-to-back titles for the first time since 1993 by the Opta supercomputer.

The supercomputer is still on their side ahead of the final, giving them a 50.9% chance of winning the match in 90 minutes.

Colombia are assigned a 25.4% chance of victory and a 23.6% chance of taking the game to extra time (which will take place if required after being scrapped for all other knockout matches) and potentially penalties.  

Argentina have won their last two Copa America shoot-outs, against Ecuador in this year's quarter-finals and Colombia in 2021, though they have lost three of their last four finals at the competition on spot-kicks, versus Brazil in 2004 and Chile in both 2015 and 2016.

Overall, Lionel Scaloni's team are given a 63% chance of lifting the trophy to Colombia's 37%. 

 

Colombia will be featuring in just their third Copa America final (also 1975 and 2001), becoming the fourth team to reach multiple finals at the competition this century, after Argentina (six), Brazil (four) and Chile (two).

Argentina have now reached the final at six of their last eight major tournaments (World Cups and Copa America). The only exceptions were at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Copa, losing to the eventual champions (France and Brazil) in both instances.

Colombia have only won one of their last 12 meetings with Argentina (five draws, six defeats) – a 2-0 group-stage win at the 2019 Copa America. The teams' last draw led to Colombia losing on penalties in the 2021 Copa quarter-finals, with Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona all unsuccessful from 12 yards.

The teams have met on 15 previous occasions in the Copa America, with Argentina recording seven wins to Colombia's three and the remaining five being drawn.

Fitting farewell for the GOAT?

Sunday's final could very well be the end of an era, with arguably the greatest footballer of all time contemplating international retirement after the match.

While there are plenty stateside who are desperate to see Messi continue his glittering Argentina career until the 2026 World Cup, the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner said this week he is fighting his "last battles" on the international stage.

Having led Argentina to glory at the 2021 Copa and the Qatar World Cup, Messi could go out on a high by inspiring his country to three straight major tournament successes, a feat they only previously achieved by winning three consecutive Copas in 1945, 1946 and 1947, with the World Cup not held during that time.

It took him a while, but Messi finally got up and running at this year's Copa with a goal in Tuesday's 2-0 semi-final victory over Canada, converting his 12th shot of the tournament.

 

He has now scored at six different editions of the Copa America, matching the record set by Zizinho all the way back in 1957. Messi has netted at the 2007, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 2024 editions, only failing to get on the scoresheet in 2011.

His semi-final strike came 17 years and one day after his first Copa America goal, versus Peru in 2007. That gap is the longest between goals for a single player in the tournament's history, breaking another record previously held by Zizinho (15 years and 52 days between 1942 and 1957).

Another trophy on Sunday would enable him to end what had previously been a disappointing Argentina career with a perfect run of three tournament triumphs.

There is also the small matter of another international trophy pulling him clear of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who led Portugal to glory at Euro 2016 and in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League but now looks unlikely to add to that collection. 

Cafeteros the Copa's best?

Argentina may have star quality unmatched by any of their South American rivals, but they were made to work for knockout successes against Ecuador and Canada. Many would argue they have not been the tournament's outstanding team.

That honour may go to Colombia, who topped Group D ahead of Brazil before dumping out Uruguay – considered second-favourites for the trophy by some – in the semi-finals.

Nestor Lorenzo's team did not even require a full complement to overcome La Celeste, standing firm after Daniel Munoz's first-half red card as Jefferson Lerma's earlier header proved decisive. 

Lerma's goal was Colombia's fifth to come via a header at this tournament, the most by a team at a single edition since Argentina netted six times via that route in 1991, when they lifted the trophy.

Colombia's aerial prowess has been another string to their bow at a tournament where they have been extremely efficient in attack, scoring a competition-high 12 goals from 8.49 expected goals (xG), a tally that puts them second to Argentina (11.1). Colombia rank just sixth for touches in the penalty area (104) but third for shots from inside the box (59).

Only conceding twice, Lorenzo's side have also been solid at the back – a recipe for tournament success. 

 

Per game, they have averaged a tournament-low 0.51 expected goals against (xGA), as well as 9.6 shots faced (the third-best figure) and 2.2 shots on target faced (second-best). 

That solid backline has given James and Luis Diaz the platform from which to make things happen, with the duo ranking third and fourth, respectively, for expected assists (xA) among all players at the competition. 

Miserly at the back and with two of the competition's most creative players in attack, Colombia will back themselves to spoil Messi's Miami party.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Argentina – Angel Di Maria

Di Maria made his 27th Copa America appearance in the last four, becoming Argentina's second-most capped player in the competition, behind Messi (38 matches).

The former Real Madrid wideman will play his final international match on Sunday, and he could go out with a bang, having earned a reputation as a big-game player.

Di Maria, who has 31 goals in 144 games for La Albiceleste overall, scored the winner in the 2021 Copa America final versus Brazil and also got on the scoresheet in the 2022 World Cup showpiece game against France.

Only James (17), Nicolas de la Cruz (14) and Messi (13) have bettered his nine chances created at this tournament, while he also ranks sixth for xA (1.01) and only Messi has matched his tally of four chance-creating carries. 

 

Colombia – James Rodriguez

Colombia captain James has looked a player reborn at this tournament, recording six assists, with the most recent teeing up Lerma's semi-final winner versus Uruguay.

That meant he surpassed Messi (five in 2021) for the most assists at a single edition of the Copa America since this data began being recorded by Opta in 2011.

A remarkable 12 of his 17 chances created at this tournament have come from set-pieces, and with a cagey affair potentially in store, his dead-ball prowess could prove decisive.

Five of Colombia's 12 goals have come from corners or indirect free-kicks, with James' deliveries helping them surpass their previous best goalscoring return at a Copa America (11 in both 1975 and 2001).

 

Jesse Marsch hopes Canada's memorable Copa America debut changes the trajectory of football in the country, as they look to cap their campaign with a bronze medal against Uruguay.

Canada's first appearance at the tournament saw them reach the semi-finals, a memorable penalty shoot-out victory over Venezuela teeing up a meeting with Argentina.

Marsch's team gave a solid account of themselves against the holders but were beaten 2-0 with Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi on target, sending them into Saturday's third-place play-off.

Marsch, who was only appointed a few weeks before the tournament began, hopes their campaign will be a catalyst for further improvement ahead of a home World Cup in 2026.

"We want to inspire the nation," Marsch said one day after Canada's semi-final defeat. "We want to develop the sport in this country.

"We want people to remember this as a moment in time that changed the trajectory of what this sport is in Canada.

"We're establishing things at some high levels. But in order to be a real team that can hold up to the biggest moments and biggest matches, there's more work to be done.

"Physically, mentally, intellectually, we've got to find a way to develop players faster."

Marsch added he will make changes to his lineup in North Carolina, with Alphonso Davies a doubt after he suffered an injury to his left foot.

Marsch will come up against his Leeds United predecessor Marcelo Bielsa on Saturday, after his much-fancied Uruguay side were beaten 1-0 by 10-man Colombia in their own semi-final.

Daniel Munoz was sent off on the stroke of half-time after Jefferson Lerma had headed Colombia into the lead, but Uruguay were outshot seven to six while a man up despite enjoying 73% of the possession.

Bielsa believes La Celeste would have been better off against a full complement, saying: "When they have 11, Colombia are a team that plays to play, and so are we. 

"In that context, we created scoring chances and the ones we conceded were generated by some concessions from us. 

"Eleven against eleven, for us, it was easier to attack, and we had to defend. In the second half, playing with an extra man, it was much more difficult to attack, and we practically didn't have to defend."

Uruguay's defeat was marred by scenes of crowd violence involving the families of some Celeste players at full-time, prompting CONMEBOL to open an investigation. 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Canada – Jonathan David

Canada had 25 touches in Argentina's penalty area in their semi-final, 12 more than the world champions, yet they only managed five shots from inside the box to their opponents' seven.

If they are to cap a historic campaign with a medal, they may need David to make some of those openings count.

David has underperformed his expected goals figures at this tournament, netting once from chances valued at 1.58 xG. No Canada player has attempted more than his seven shots, three of which have hit the target.

Uruguay – Darwin Nunez

Nunez has attempted more shots (20) than any other player at this edition of the Copa America, with his total of 2.59 xG only bettered by Argentina's Lautaro Martinez (2.91).

While the Liverpool man has two goals to his name, they both came in the group stage, and he has only hit the target with five of his 20 attempts.

Among all players to net at this year's tournament, only three have a worse shot accuracy than Nunez's 33% (excluding blocks), but a profitable game here could even put him back in the race for the Golden Boot. 

MATCH PREDICTION: URUGUAY WIN

Uruguay have participated in the third-place play-off at the Copa America on three previous occasions, beating Colombia 2-1 in 2004, drawing 2-2 with Honduras in 2001 (then losing on penalties) and suffering a 3-1 defeat to Mexico in 2007.

A victory in North Carolina would make this Uruguay's joint-second best Copa campaign of the 21st century, after they won the title in 2011.

They have only lost four of their 15 Copa America matches against Concacaf opponents, though they are winless in their last three such games in the knockout rounds, losing 3-1 to Mexico in the the 2007 third-place match, and drawing 2-2 with Honduras in the 2001 edition after losing 2-1 to Mexico in the semi-finals.

Canada are aiming to become the third Concacaf country to finish third in the competition after Mexico (1997, 1999 and 2007) and Honduras (2001). 

A victory would make this the second-best campaign by a non-CONMEBOL Copa America debutant nation, after Mexico took silver on their 1993 bow. However, Marsch's men are big outsiders.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Canada – 13.2%

Uruguay – 70%

Draw – 16.8%

Former England striker Gary Lineker says the Three Lions are on the "brink of history" after reaching the Euro 2024 final.

England produced arguably their best performance of the tournament so far as they beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the semi-final on Wednesday.

It has been 58 years since England's men won a major tournament, the 1966 World Cup, though that and their Euro 2020 final appearance both came on home soil.

Gareth Southgate's side are now looking to make history against Spain on Sunday by winning the European Championships for the first time.

"I think it's hugely significant for English football," said Lineker, who represented England at four major tournaments.

"They were in a final, they were in the last final of the Euros, of course, and that was at Wembley, and that ended up in huge disappointment [losing to Italy on penalties].

"This is going to be tough; it's going to be difficult, but they're on the brink of history. No English team in football has ever won a major tournament abroad."

At times during Euro 2024, England have been criticised for their performances after edging to a first-place finish in Group C before having to come from behind in each of their three knockout matches.

Xavi Simons gave the Netherlands the lead on Wednesday before Harry Kane cancelled out his goal from the penalty spot.

Ollie Watkins then came off the bench to score the winner in the 90th minute, with his goal the fourth England have scored after the 80th minute in the tournament so far, including extra time.

In their final Euro 2024 test, they come up against a Spain side who have won all their games at the tournament, but Lineker is confident they will find a way past La Roja in Berlin.

"They have got that kind of never-say-die attitude, which is something that is hugely important," Lineker added.

"Even when they weren't playing great, they were grinding out results. And it's an old football cliche that if you can win when you play badly, then things are not that bad.

"I don't really think I'm surprised at how we have done it, because we've got the individuals, world-class footballers right across the pitch.

"Yes, they started slowly, and something wasn't quite right about things, but they've worked it out, and they've got gradually better as the tournament progressed. It's much better that way round."

Declan Rice says England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy will "haunt him forever" and has urged the team to use it as motivation against Spain on Sunday.

England booked their place in the Euro 2024 showpiece with a last-gasp 2-1 win over the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday.

In their last such final, they were beaten 3-2 on penalties at Wembley after playing out a 1-1 draw with Italy over 120 minutes.

Rice was one of those in the team that lost three years ago, and he is keen to put that result behind them by going one better this time around.

"Seeing Italy lift that trophy will haunt me forever," said Rice.

"We are now presented with another opportunity where we can write our own history, but we are up against another top side who we have to massively respect.

"Hopefully, now we can do it. Not only for each other but also for the manager. I think he deserves it."

Under Gareth Southgate, England have now reached at least the semi-final stage three times, and Sunday's match in Berlin is their first-ever major tournament final on foreign soil.

This time, they will come up against three-time winners Spain, and the Three Lions manager says there is no room for error if they want to come out on top.

"They would be rightly favourites for what they have done this tournament. They have been the best team," said Southgate.

“They have got a day longer and in the past three finals, maybe more, it has been quite significant, so we have got to get our recovery spot on.

“Tactically we will have to be perfect as they are such a good side. But, you know, we are here."

Harry Kane is England's greatest ever player and a certainty to start Sunday's Euro 2024 final versus Spain, says former Three Lions defender Gary Neville.

Kane has scored three goals to help England to a second straight Euros final, including an equaliser from the penalty spot in Wednesday's semi-final win over the Netherlands.

However, the Bayern Munich star's performance levels have been criticised throughout the tournament and it was his replacement from the bench, Ollie Watkins, who steered England into the final with a last-minute winner versus the Oranje.

Ivan Toney also replaced Kane to good effect against Switzerland in the quarter-finals, converting a no-look penalty as England triumphed on spot-kicks, and some have suggested Gareth Southgate should drop his captain for Sunday's Berlin showpiece.

Neville disagrees, pointing to the fact his nine knockout-stage goals at World Cups or European Championships are the most of any European player in history.

"I spoke to Wayne Rooney four or five weeks ago before the tournament started and he said Harry Kane is the greatest England player ever," Neville told Sky Sports News. "I wouldn't fight to disagree with him.

"Harry Kane has been absolutely sensational. I always called him gold when he was at Tottenham, you just know full well that he's going to deliver for you. He's a solid character.

 

"I think he's obviously below his best in this tournament, it does look like he is carrying something and it wouldn't surprise me at all if it emerged in a week or two that he's had issues during the tournament with something that he's trying to bandage up.

"You look at that record now and some of the greatest goalscorers of all time are on that list. Harry Kane is someone who will not be dropped by Gareth Southgate. 

"I know there is a sense that people think we are better without him, but it wouldn't send a great message to the squad internally. He's very clearly their leader and Southgate has full, total faith in him.

"I also think if you're the opposition team, he is England's talisman. He's the man who has gone over to Germany this year and has ripped it up from a goalscoring perspective."

As well becoming the first England captain to lift a major trophy on foreign soil, Kane could add the Golden Boot to the one he won at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Dani Olmo is currently ahead of him in the running by virtue of recording two assists, with both players level on three goals. 

Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja is hopeful his side can continue their play-off journey ahead of facing New England Revolution this weekend.

The Lions recorded consecutive victories with an emphatic display against D.C. United last time out as they put on a five-star showing at the Inter&Co Stadium.

Their latest result leaves them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Charlotte FC.

Pareja insists his side must continue to improve as they aim to climb the league table, believing his players have found confidence and connection at an important stage of the season.  

“First we will try to keep and then improve the level, like always,” Pareja said. “The results obviously just give us more confidence to continue winning games and adding important points.

“I think the functionality of the team is much better and the cohesiveness that we have found in the last two games has given us optimism.

“We will keep working. The journey is still in front of us, and we have to keep improving and see if we can maintain this level of not just playing well but having that confidence in front of goal."

New England, meanwhile, enter the contest off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Seattle Sounders, their first defeat on the road in two games having recorded impressive victories over CF Cincinnati and Nashville SC.

The Revs remain among a cluster of teams separated by just four points at the bottom end of the Eastern Conference table, currently sitting 12th in the division.

However, Caleb Porter’s side have impressed at home in recent weeks, and the New England head coach stressed the importance of claiming successes in their next two games at the Gillette Stadium ahead of the Leagues Cup break.

“It’s really important. You have to take care of business at home, and we didn’t do that earlier in the year but we have been able to do that a bit more recently,” Porter said.

“The guys have gained confidence at home, and this will be another tough game.

“We have three games now until a kind of break. This is our 21st game so it’s going to happen fast, but we want to get as many points as possible before the break and that sets up a kind of a stretch run.

“We will have only 11 games to go so the next two home games before this break, we need to push really hard to take care of business.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New England Revolution – Carles Gil

Some players find a side that they just cannot stop scoring against, and Carles Gil has proved to be Orlando City’s kryptonite in previous meetings.

Gil has recorded 11 goal contributions against the Lions (five goals, six assists. Only Sebastian Giovinco (15) has achieved more than the Spaniard.

Orlando City – Facundo Torres

Facundo Torres is already a firm fan favourite for his dynamic attacking displays, and his statistics have him among some of the best players to play for Orlando.

Since arriving at the club in 2022, Torres has notched 47 regular-season goal contributions, ranking him fourth for the most in club history. He is two behind Cyle Larin and Mauricio Pereyra (49 each) for joint-second in the Lions’ MLS history.

MATCH PREDICTION: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION WIN

New England will be hopeful of maintaining their impressive recent form at the Gillette Stadium, having three of their last four home matches (L1). Prior to this run, they had recorded just one victory in their previous seven games in front of their own supporters (D1, L5).  

The Revs also hold an impressive record over their opponents on home turf and have never lost to Orlando at the Gillette Stadium (W6 D2). New England have also outscored their opponents 21-6 over their eight meetings in Foxborough.

However, the Lions will be confident of ending their losing streak away to New England. Their 5-0 win over D.C. United equalled the largest margin of victory in the club’s history. It was the third five-goal triumph, with the first of those coming against the Revs in a 6-1 win back in 2017.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

New England Revolution – 40.7%

Draw – 26.7%

Orlando City – 32.7%

Ollie Watkins revealed that his celebration in England's semi-final victory over the Netherlands was dedicated to both Lewis Dunk and Dean Henderson. 

Watkins scored late to book England's place in the Euro 2024 final against Spain on Sunday as the Three Lions came back from Xavi Simons' opener. 

The Aston Villa striker netted only the second ever 90th-minute winning goal in a European Championship knockout tie, sparking wild scenes in Dortmund. 

Watkins raced away after squeezing the ball beyond Bart Verbruggen, running towards the England bench to celebrate his fourth and most important international goal. 

Both Dunk and Henderson, who have yet to play a single minute in Germany, were among the first to embrace Watkins. 

"I did make a promise to Deano and Dunky that, if I scored, I would run over and celebrate with them," Watkins said on the latest episode of the Lions' Den.

"Sometimes you can feel a little bit left out because you're not on the pitch making that impact.

"So me celebrating with them, obviously I've been on sitting on the bench experiencing that and I just wanted to make it special for everyone.

"It was nice that they all jumped on the pitch and could be a part of it."

Watkins' strike saw him become England's newly crowned hero on the international stage, but fellow substitute Cole Palmer also played an important part in the winner. 

The pair were introduced in the 80th minute and made an almost instant impact. 

Palmer's assist for Watkins was the first time two substitutes have combined for a goal for England in the knockout stages of a major tournament.

The 28-year-old said that he predicted the impact he and the Chelsea midfielder would have on proceedings having worked closely together in training. 

"You've got to have that belief when you're going on the pitch to that you're going to bring something to the team, bring some energy, and for me, when I've got the ball there, I knew I had to be selfish and shoot because I may not get another opportunity," Watkins said.

Greg Vanney is anticipating another draining week for his LA Galaxy players as they head to Texas to tackle FC Dallas.

The Galaxy played two home games in quick succession, losing to rivals Los Angeles FC and beating Minnesota United, before a break ahead of this match.

But the July heat means Vanney sees this next task being little easier for his side, with another home double-header quickly following as the Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers visit LA.

"We have a couple of days from a busy and emotional week, just to reset physically and mentally, and then you start to prepare for what's going to be another busy week after," he said.

"We start off in Dallas. Dallas is always tough, especially this time of year. It's a special kind of tough with the weather.

"Then we come back for two more at home. We'll road map out how we want to approach next week and prepare the group."

After the setback of the LAFC defeat, a win over Minnesota at least lifted spirits ahead of this stretch.

Vanney continued: "It's nice doing that coming off a win. It feels a lot better as you go into this week and everybody can kind of relax and enjoy a couple of days, and then we get right back to work."

The Galaxy have also had time to get back on the training pitch before playing Dallas, with Vanney acknowledging he was focusing solely on the result against Minnesota given the quick turnaround.

"I think sometimes in the third games you put away some of the stuff that you normally are really, really picky on," he said.

"You've just got to suffer through it a little bit, and we did enough to get the three points [against Minnesota].

"We'll take it, and we'll talk about how we want to keep improving and get better and attack the next week, so just I'm glad we managed to get the three points."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

FC Dallas – Petar Musa

Musa missed out on Croatia's squad for Euro 2024, but while his international team-mates were exiting at the group stage, he has been tearing it up in MLS.

The forward has scored in four of his past five matches for six total goals across that span.

He is only the eighth Dallas player to score six or more goals across a run of five matches in MLS history.

LA Galaxy – Gabriel Pec

The Galaxy have their own in-form star in Pec, who scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Minnesota.

He is not just a goalscorer, however, adding seven assists to his nine MLS goals this season.

Indeed, Pec has either scored, assisted or provided a secondary assist in six straight games, the longest such streak from a Galaxy player since Javier Hernandez's eight across 2021 and 2022.

MATCH PREDICTION: DALLAS WIN

It is little wonder Vanney was not exactly relishing this trip, as Dallas have won seven in a row at home against the Galaxy. An eighth would make this the outright longest winning run for any team at home to the Galaxy in the MLS regular season.

And Dallas' home form is imperious right now, too. They have won six of their past eight at home.

The Galaxy are at least themselves in good shape, winning seven of nine for the first time in a single regular season since 2019, but only league leaders FC Cincinnati have won at Dallas since the start of April.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

FC Dallas – 38.8%

LA Galaxy – 34.7%

Draw – 26.5%

Two of the form teams in MLS's Western Conference will go head to head on Saturday when the Portland Timbers host Real Salt Lake.

The Timbers have won four of their past five matches to climb to fifth, showing signs they have got to grips with Phil Neville's system in his first season with the club.

But Portland are still some 10 points behind RSL, one of the league's standout teams this year.

Without defeat at home in two months, the Timbers are at least in confident mood heading into this next tough test.

"I think now the team is very confident in the system we are playing," said captain Diego Chara.

"From my point of view, we have to just continue, getting more games, more wins and get to the playoffs."

Neville will have to find a way for Portland to handle Diego Luna, who missed out on a place in the United States' squad for the Olympics but responded in stunning fashion.

Luna scored one and assisted three more in a 5-2 win over Atlanta United, taking the 20-year-old to five goals and eight assists for the season.

Two-time MLS Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips told This is MLS: "To me, [Luna not making the US squad] is wild.

"How he's not in the squad, I don't understand. It may be something personal, because who's playing better than him right now in this country at his age in that position? There's no one."

Luna will be looking for a repeat performance against the Timbers, keeping his focus on RSL's fine form.

"Decisions are made in soccer. There are different teams with different coaches," he said. "There's nothing you can do about that, and I'm grateful to be here and to be able to stay here with RSL in this great run of form.

"I'm happy, focused, here with RSL and will continue to work hard."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Jonathan Rodriguez

It is difficult to pick out Portland's star man as, right now, they have three.

Rodriguez (11 goals), Felipe Mora (10) and Evander (10) are the first trio of team-mates in MLS history to each have 10 or more goals for the season before the beginning of August.

However, Rodriguez is the man in form, having netted twice in last week's 4-1 win over Nashville.

Real Salt Lake – Andres Gomez

Although he did not net against Atlanta, Luna's outstanding form is good news for Gomez. Three of his 11 goals this season have been created by Luna.

Indeed, Gomez is himself at the centre of much of RSL's best work, providing three assists for top scorer Chicho Arango and receiving a further three in return.

MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

RSL might be one of the league's best this year, but they are winless in seven straight games at Providence Park.

In fact, RSL have only two away wins against Portland in the MLS regular season, with those coming back in 2012 and 2017.

However, seven of their other 14 meetings in Oregon have been drawn, and that might be a result both sides would settle for.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland Timbers – 37.1 per cent

Real Salt Lake – 36.6 per cent

Draw – 26.3 per cent

Gareth Southgate believes England have every chance of upsetting Spain in Sunday's Euro 2024 final, although he warned the Three Lions will have to be at their best with and without the ball.

England are through to their second successive European Championship final after Ollie Watkins came off the bench to net a 90th-minute winner in Wednesday's semi-final against the Netherlands.

They have now reached more major tournament finals in four attempts under Southgate (two), than they did in 23 campaigns before his 2016 appointment (one).

But if England are to end a 58-year wait to follow up their 1966 World Cup win, they will have to get past the only team to win all six of their matches at the tournament.

Since the group stage was introduced in 1980, only France in 1984 (5/5) have won the Euros while maintaining a 100 per cent record.  

While Southgate has full faith in England's ability to hurt La Roja, he says their first challenge will be to get hold of the ball.

"We will have to get the ball off them first," Southgate said of Spain. "It is not as simple as us having the ball and making them run. 

 

"We have to be exceptional with the ball and without it. They have been the best team.

"We are starting to show a better version of ourselves, but we are in there with what we have shown to this point. 

"We have as good a chance as they do. We have come here to win it. It is a huge task, but we are still here and fighting."

Luis de la Fuente's side reached the final by overcoming France 2-1 on Tuesday, and their 13 goals at this edition of the Euros have only ever been bettered by France in 1984 (14).

The Spain squad watched Wednesday's second semi-final together, before De la Fuente began preparing for Sunday's showpiece game.

He told Spanish outlet La 1: "Both teams were very tough opponents.

"We are going to have played all the great teams in this competition, and it couldn't be any other way. The two best teams made it to the final.

"We had dinner and were watching the match, and then we were in our office, analysing it in a more relaxed way. 

"Now our work begins to analyse England in more detail."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Spain – Lamine Yamal 

Yamal made history in the last four, his stunning equaliser making him the youngest player to ever score at a World Cup or Euros.

Aged 17 years and one day, he could be the youngest ever player to feature in a World Cup or European Championship final, surpassing Pele's record from the 1958 World Cup (17 years, 249 days). 

He has three assists so far at Euro 2024, with no Spaniard ever providing more at a single edition of the tournament.

He has had 13 shot involvements following a ball carry at Euro 2024 (six shots, seven chances created), at least three more than any other player.

 

England – Phil Foden

Foden produced his best display of the tournament in the semi-finals, recording a game-high three shots, hitting the post with one long-range strike and seeing another effort cleared off the goal line.

He also completed all 40 of his attempted passes before being withdrawn for Cole Palmer, who teed up the Three Lions' winner.

England's switch to a back three has benefitted Foden, allowing him to play from the right-hand side and cut onto his favoured left foot. 

Might he silence his doubters on the biggest stage of all?

MATCH PREDICTION: SPAIN WIN

This will be the third meeting between Spain and England at the Euros, and the Three Lions have fond memories of the previous two, winning 2-1 in the group stage in 1980 and progressing on penalties after a quarter-final draw in 1996.

However, La Roja have only lost four of their last 14 meetings with England overall, having lost the previous seven in a row.

Spain have also won their last three major tournament finals and could become the first European nation to triumph in four straight World Cup/Euros title matches. 

The Opta supercomputer gives them a 60.4 per cent chance of lifting the trophy to England's 39.6 per cent. 

England will play their first major tournament final on foreign soil after playing the showpiece games at the 1966 World Cup and Euro 2020 at Wembley. 

They have never lost a match in Berlin in six attempts (four wins, two draws), only playing more often in Helsinki (eight times), Amsterdam and Sunderland (seven each) without ever losing. 

Can they upset the tournament's outstanding team to bring it home?

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

Spain – 40.5 per cent

England – 29.0 per cent

Draw – 30.5 per cent

Prime Minister Mia Mottley says the inaugural Prime Minister’s Cup football tournament is the Barbados Government’s way of providing opportunities and creating a platform for the country’s players to not only develop their talent, but also to excel.

The new semi-professional tournament, which has a total investment of US$75,000 (BDS $150,000) is scheduled to kick off in August with 24 teams –10 from the Barbados Football Association Premier League, the top six from Division One, and the top four from Division 2 and Division three, based on 2023 standings –to take part.

With well over 600 players set to parade their skills, Mottley pointed out that it forms part of an objective to establish a more compact football structure.

“If we are serious about the clear determination that we must be global citizens with Bajan roots, then we have to build the platform in which that can happen,” Mottley said during the tournament’s launch at the Barbados Football Association (BFA) headquarters, on Wednesday.

“The reality is whether it is boys or girls playing football, this country needs greater structure and greater opportunities in football if we are to rise to the next level. Some will be able to go on and find lucrative contracts. Some will be able to work in the ecosystem of football. We have a duty therefore to start to lift our game up. If we want to have a developmental role it means that Government must now step in to play that role,” she added.

Mottley stressed that taking on a tournament of this nature when no private sector company would, is a no brainer for her administration, especially given the fact that young people are becoming more and more interested in football.

“There are not a lot of companies who would step up to the plate, and they are also looking at many other national activities from cultural activities right back through. So the bottom line is that one of the limitations of being small is that the state sometimes must take the lead in terms of entrepreneurship. When Barbados became an independent country, Errol Barrow understood that, and that is why the Hilton hotel was built at a time when no Barbadian private sector entity would have taken that scale of risk to build that scale of hotel in a country this size,” the Prime Minister reasoned.

“If we are to change our fortunes in Barbados, we need to be able to ensure that we have the administrative structure and the opportunities in tournaments such as this. I hope that at some point there will be a regional professional league,” she noted.

Another significant aspect of the tournament is the fact that all players will be expected to take part in self-confidence and self-esteem building, conflict resolution, and entrepreneurship workshops.

“The fundamental difference with this tournament must be a clear understanding of the profiles and the opportunities for every player, so that we work collectively between the public and the private sector to ensure that we put these persons on a sustainable path for a livelihood,” Mottley declared.

Meanwhile, Omari Eastmond, chairman of the organising committee echoed the prime minister’s sentiments.

“It is a way to tap into our talent on the island and give them purpose, allowing them to strive in structured settings giving them a chance to have a financial reward,” Eastmond said.

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