• U.S. Soccer has found a way to bring every women’s soccer powerhouse to the United States on a yearly basis, creating two invitational tournaments, the SheBelieves Cup (in March) and the Tournament of Nations (which began this week). The U.S. opened proceedings on Thursday by beating Japan 4-2. The next two games, against Brazil and Australia, will serve as the U.S. women’s team’s best test before this fall’s CONCACAF Championship, which will also serve as the qualifier for next year’s World Cup.
• ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews are showing preseason exhibitions between major European clubs virtually all day Saturday. If you’re desperate for some European soccer, almost every big-name European team is in action somewhere on an ESPN network.
• One problem with these big friendlies, though, is that many of them are held on temporary grass fields in NFL stadiums. On Wednesday, Liverpool and Manchester City played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where organizers had laid a grass field over the artificial turf only that morning. “We pray before the game that there are no injuries,” Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said. This kind of field disaster has been common with these summer exhibitions.