Tyler Adams’ maiden goal lifts USA to first win over Mexico in three years

September 12, 2018


“Tyler Adams showed he might be able to help when the rebuilding US soccer team resumes competitive matches next June. So did Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Adams scored his first international goal, four minutes after Angel Zaldivar was ejected for a studs-up tackle, and the United States rebounded from a poor first half for a 1-0 victory over Mexico on Tuesday night and their first win over El Tri in three years.” Guardian


The Player Kylian Mbappe Really Plays Like

August 2, 2018


“Breakout performances seemed to be everywhere at the 2018 World Cup — young talents were launched to international fame, and established players had their names crystallized on the world stage. The world’s biggest soccer tournament gives players a chance to shine outside the club-level paradigm of consistency and — apart from the English Premier League — a largely domestic audience. On the back of a few impressive performances, players like CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandr Golovin, one of the key players in Russia’s run to the quarterfinals, can earn themselves the chance to move to one of Europe’s top clubs, even if this recruitment trend is less common than it once was.” FiveThirtyEight


World Cup 2018 Best XI: France’s Champions Lead the Top Players in Russia

July 17, 2018


“After 64 games and more drama than any World Cup in at least 20 years, there’s one piece of business left to do: Pick a team of the tournament. It’s been picked as a team that might function together rather than just the 11 best players, and to avoid the temptation of packing it with France’s champions, a limit of four players per country has been self-imposed. In a 4-3-3 formation fit for the world stage, here is our 2018 World Cup Best XI.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


For all the ills of the world, World Cup 2018 showed that a bit of football done right can make the planet smile

July 17, 2018

“Monday morning dawns with a grim and crushing inevitability. Unless you’re peeling yourself off a Paris pavement, or drowning your sorrows in a Dubrovnik dive bar, the 2018 World Cup is over. As a month of sporting hedonism slips from present tense to past, real life and its hard borders re-sharpen their focus, bringing with them a cruel reckoning. It was only football, after all. It felt like more than that when Kylian Mbappe was burning through opposition defenders, or Lionel Messi was fighting back the tide, or Russia and South Korea were pulling off the unfeasible, or when England’s town squares throbbed with rasping songs and nervous tension and the prickly spines of a faint dream. But no: ultimately, it was only football, no more and no less.” Independent


World Cup 2018 goal celebrations: A statistical analysis of unbridled joy

July 17, 2018


“How would you celebrate if you scored at a World Cup? A jig by the corner flag, an emphatic sprint, jump and punch of the air, an emotional tussle with the goalnet, or just run as fast and far as you can until someone finally, gleefully leaps on you? Whether you’re a Milla, a Josimar or a Tardelli kind of guy, there are plenty of ways with which to physically revel in what, for most players, is the once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime act of scoring on the world’s biggest stage. Goal celebrations – often just as complex, slow-motion-worthy and memorable as the goals themselves – are an art form. But, just like everything else, they’re moulded by cultural trends, context and just pure momentary instinct.” Telegraph


France’s Benchwarmers Are Worth More Than Most Starting Lineups

July 10, 2018

“France enters today’s semifinal match against neighboring Belgium as the favorite to win the 2018 World Cup. At least on paper, though, France has been the least remarkable team of the four that remain: Les Bleus have scored fewer goals than each of the other semifinalists, they’ve possessed less of the ball than two of the other semifinalists, and they’ve taken the fewest shots.” FiveThirtyEight


Neymar and Firmino take Brazil past Mexico and into World Cup last eight

July 2, 2018

“Beneath the fancy hair, the absurd solipsism and the antics of a latter-day Sun King, it is good to be reminded sometimes that Neymar is an exceptionally gifted footballer. It was his goal that broke the deadlock and if his influence on this game was far more positive than in any in the group stage, it was almost entirely because he played without that same furious determination to be the protagonist. But, of course, he is the same Neymar, the same diva who must always be the centre of attention. Just when everything seemed to be going well, just when it seemed there might be an argument he was growing into his role, he reacted ludicrously as Miguel Layún picked the ball from between his feet as he lay by the side of the pitch. Perhaps the Mexican midfielder did brush his ankle but the fourth official was roughly six inches away and saw nothing untoward, and neither did VAR.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


World Cup 2018: Waiting for ‘Golazo!’

July 1, 2018

“I was supposed to have gone to Gonzalo and Pia’s house, in Chimalistac, a southern neighborhood of Mexico City, to watch the Mexico-Belgium 1998 World Cup match. I must have gotten got caught up in something else; I didn’t care much about ‘soccer.’ In high school, in Massachusetts, I’d played football, and was a Red Sox fan. When I left my apartment in the Condesa at the start of the second half, Mexico, El Tri—as the national team is called, for the tricolor flag—was losing, 2-0. It was a sunny Sunday, the sidewalks and streets empty because everybody was inside watching the match. I caught a taxi, one of those green VW Beetles with the front passenger seat taken out. On the lowered door of the glove compartment sat a battery-operated black-and-white TV. The driver asked me to hold the antennae out the window.” NYBooks


World Cup 2018: Analysing the tactical flaws England will look to exploit against Colombia in the Round of 16

June 29, 2018


“If it remains difficult to judge England’s level of ability, after two victories against below-par opposition and a defeat with a second-string XI, something similar can be said of Colombia for very different reasons. Jose Pekerman’s side have blown hot and cold, with a fine 3-0 win over Poland sandwiched by a 2-1 defeat to Japan and a nervy 1-0 win over Senegal yesterday. The Japan loss was influenced heavily by the fact Colombia were down to ten men for almost the entire contest, and the Senegal performance was compromised by star man James Rodriguez clearly being unfit, lasting just half an hour. It seems unlikely he’ll be fit to start against England, and certainly won’t be 100% fit.” Independent – Michael Cox


Germany Out, Brazil Through, Mexico Gets a Hand in Decisive World Cup Group Finales

June 27, 2018

“Day 14 of World Cup 2018 is done, and it will be remembered for defending champion Germany going out in the group stage—the fourth time in the past five World Cups that has happened—in a 2-0 loss to South Korea; for Mexico hanging on to survive with Korean help despite losing 3-0 to Sweden; and for Brazil and Switzerland maintaining their spots atop Group E to advance to the knockout rounds.” SI


For a 90-Minute Game, a Train Ride of 27 Hours

June 27, 2018


“YEKATERINBURG, Russia — After nearly 27 hours and 900 miles on a train from Moscow, Hans Josefsson’s pedicure remained immaculate. Before leaving Sweden 10 days earlier for the World Cup, he had his toenails painted blue and gold, the colors of the national soccer team. ‘A professional did it; I knew I would do a lot of walking in these sandals,’ Mr. Josefsson said before arriving here Tuesday afternoon in the easternmost Russian city in which matches are being played. A fellow passenger on the daylong trip, Luis Aragones, 24, an architect, had watched in Mexico City as Mexico stunned Germany, the defending champion, in its opening game. He had joined a delirious celebration whose mass jumping may have caused the equivalent of a minor earthquake.” NY Times


The Sleepers To Watch In The World Cup Knockout Rounds

June 25, 2018

“The World Cup is not traditionally the tournament for underdogs. The trophy has been lifted by just eight countries — and five of those have won multiple times. But there’s usually enough room for a few Cinderella stories to creep into the knockout phase: Bulgaria (1994), South Korea (2002) and Turkey (2002) were unexpected semifinalists, while Cameroon (1990), Ghana (2010) and Costa Rica (2014) crashed the quarterfinals. At least one country seems to do this every four years. We see three teams that could fit the bill this summer. Before the tournament, each of them had no greater than a 3 percent chance of winning it all, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model, but each has performed well so far and could make a strong run in the knockout rounds.” FiveThirtyEight


Germany Saves Its World Cup Life, But Champions Show Their Vulnerability

June 23, 2018


“Finally, in the second half of its second game at the 2018 World Cup, Germany began to play. It looked as though it had left it too late, that it would be relying on Mexico and Sweden not playing out a draw of self-interest but then, in the fifth of five minutes of added time, Toni Kroos swept home a free kick from the left. It was a stunning goal to end a game of constant drama and give Germany a much-needed 2-1 win. It means that Germany will qualify for the last 16 if it gets a better result against South Korea on Wednesday than Sweden manages against Mexico. It also, in one moment, perhaps explained just why Germany has not gone out of a World Cup in the first round for 80 years.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)

Germany Finds a Way; Mexico, Belgium Take Big Steps Toward World Cup Knockout Stage
“Day 10 of World Cup 2018 was full of drama. Defending World Cup champion Germany was seconds from being all but eliminated in the group stage, but the shorthanded Germans used a sensational Toni Kroos free kick deep into stoppage time to beat Sweden 2-1. Elsewhere, Mexico continued its hot start to the tournament, beating South Korea 2-1 to stay in first place in the group. In the day’s first match Belgium blasted Tunisia 5-2 in the most freewheeling game of the day, all but securing its place in the last 16.” SI


World Cup 2018: Serbia chief accuses Fifa of ‘brutal robbery’ after Swiss defeat

June 23, 2018

“The head of the Serbian Football Association has accused governing body Fifa of showing bias against his country at the World Cup in Russia. Slavisa Kokeza says Serbia were victims of a ‘brutal robbery’ during Friday’s loss to Switzerland, accusing Fifa of ‘directing’ officials to work against them. ‘We will send a protest to Fifa today,’ Kokeza told the BBC on Saturday. A Fifa spokesman confirmed a letter of protest had been received but that no further comment would be made.” BBC (Video)

Mexico Fans Stop Homophobic Chant, Excel at Good Chants
“Saturday’s match against South Korea went about as well for Mexico as its fans could have hoped. The 2–1 victory all but guaranteed a trip to the World Cup’s knock-out stages and bolstered El Tri’s chances of winning its tough group outright. The game also didn’t feature any homophobic chants, so it was a very fine day indeed. On Wednesday, FIFA fined the Mexico Football Federation $10,000 for its fans’ use of the ‘discriminatory and insulting’ puto chant during the opening match against Germany.” Slate


An Exorcism 40 Years in the Making

June 21, 2018

“It’s been 48 hours and I still can’t believe it: On Sunday, against all odds, Mexico beat Germany, reigning World Cup champion and undisputed machine of world soccer, in a stunning display of tactical brilliance, athletic prowess, and pure sporting hunger. Over the past decade, the Germans have methodically altered their approach to the game through an unprecedented development program that has radically altered the way the country plays the sport, teaching youngsters to forgo pure German strength and embrace possession and flair. The experiment reached its pinnacle four years ago in Brazil, where Germany destroyed the home team at its own game and won the tournament handily. The rest of the world could only watch in awe.” Slate


World Cup 2018: How Mexico stunned Germany by exposing their full-backs and harassing Toni Kroos out the game

June 18, 2018


“The first four days of World Cup 2018 have featured a string of impressive underdog performances, largely about sitting back and frustrating the opposition. Iceland’s defensive-minded approach worked well against Argentina, Switzerland were content to soak up pressure against Brazil, and both recorded unexpected draws. Mexico’s approach in yesterday’s 1-0 victory over reigning champions Germany, however, was braver, bolder and ultimately more successful. Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio has been criticised for his constant chopping and changing, but while he might be reactive, that doesn’t mean he’s defensive. Here, he used a 4-2-3-1 system, rarely seen throughout Mexico’s qualifying campaign, in order to nullify Germany’s strengths and expose their weaknesses.” Independent – Michael Cox (Video)

World Cup 2018: Germany ‘crestfallen’ as shock Mexico defeat is called ’embarrassing’
“It was a defeat that left Germany ‘crestfallen’, was described as an ’embarrassment’ by the country’s media and even triggered an earth tremor, such were the celebrations in Mexico. World Cup holders Germany looked a shadow of their usual selves as they were humbled 1-0 in Moscow – and the result could have been much worse for them. But despite the loss – the first for a German team in a World Cup opener since 1982 – coach Joachim Low remains confident that his side will progress to the knockout stage in Russia.” BBC (Video)


Seismic Event: Mexico Stuns Germany at the World Cup

June 17, 2018


“MOSCOW — Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal and sturdy second-half defense gave Mexico a 1-0 victory over Germany on Sunday, providing the first major surprise of the 2018 World Cup. It was hard to recall a bigger result for Mexico, which has hosted the World Cup twice but has never advanced past the quarterfinals. Germany, the defending World Cup champion, has won the tournament four times, and was expected to seriously challenge for a fifth crown in Russia. But the Germans seemed flummoxed by the Mexicans’ speed and directness in the first half, and they couldn’t find a reply to Lozano’s goal.” NY Times

Mexico Just Taught Germany a Lesson: Never Win a World Cup
“The World Cup had its first great game on Friday when Spain and Portugal dueled to a 3-3 draw, and it had its first upset on Sunday, when Hirving “Chucky” Lozano gave Mexico a stunning 1-0 win over Germany. Mexico’s gameplan from the start was to rely on a counter attack to pressure their opponents, and Germany allowed them an unimpeded path. They pushed a high line—and stuck with 31-year-old Sami Khedira, a once rangy but now limited midfielder—in the middle to keep Mexico out of the box. Khedira is a step slower than he was four years ago, and Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger aren’t around to clean up for his mistakes.” The Ringer

He’s Got a Winning Record. So Why Do Mexican Fans Want the Coach Fired?
“PASADENA, Calif. — A few weeks ago, Juan Carlos Osorio, the coach of Mexico’s national soccer team, sat in the sunny courtyard of a Beverly Hills hotel, nursing a cup of coffee and reliving the moment in 2016 that very nearly derailed his 20-year journey from a small club on Staten Island to his first World Cup. Osorio, 57, had just presided over the most humiliating defeat in Mexico’s history, a 7-0 demolition by Chile in the quarterfinals of the Copa América, the world’s oldest international tournament. It was the sort of loss that gets a coach fired, especially in Mexico — provided Osorio didn’t quit first.” NY Times

Joshua Kimmich leaves a Philipp Lahm-shaped hole in the Germany defence
“There is no position over which the opinion of supporters and football managers can clash more starkly than full-back. Fans invariably love a marauding type who gets up and down the wing, dives into tackles and is generally both no-nonsense in defence and a swashbuckling attacking presence. Note the cult hero status that was quickly bestowed last year on Sead Kolasinac at Arsenal and note too how Arsène Wenger very quickly decided that he would rather stick with the more positionally disciplined Nacho Monreal. Telegraph


Mexico May Need To Beat Germany To Have Hope — Good Luck With That

June 13, 2018

“Germany, the defending World Cup champion, is one of the favorites to win the tournament — FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index ranks Die Mannschaft third behind only Brazil and Spain. Although their personnel may have evolved over the past few years, the Germans still maintain a style of methodical possession football that has been consistently successful on the world stage over the past 15 years. They don’t face any particularly fierce challenges in this relatively soft group; they were rather lucky to catch Mexico in a down year, a tame Swedish side and a South Korean team that is one of the weakest in the field.” FiveThirtyEight


World Cup favourites choosing defensive-minded midfielders over deep-lying playmakers

June 11, 2018


“The most fascinating tactical development over the past few World Cups has been the increased popularity of the deep playmaker. Having nearly become extinct around the turn of the century, it’s notable that recent World Cup winners have generally depended upon a great creative influence from deep.” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


América’s Team

June 11, 2018

“I hate the Mexican national soccer team. I hate the Azteca, with its whisper-thin polluted air and stands that reach up into the sky. I hate the diving Chicharito, the enervating Giovani dos Santos, and the downright detestable Rafa Márquez. Even Mexican players I’d otherwise enjoy watching, like Miguel Layún, are equal parts irritating and terrifying—I’d enjoy watching him a lot more if he’d go do his thing to someone else.” The Ringer


World Cup Preview 2018: Messi vs. Ronaldo, Magic Cats, Iceland!!, and the Entire Emotional Context in Which Much of Human Life Transpires

June 10, 2018

“Ladies and gentlemen, start your psychic octopuses. The biggest and strangest sporting event in human history resumes next week in Russia, where thirty-two men’s national soccer teams will begin the monthlong competition for the strangely un-cup-like trophy given to the winners of the FIFA World Cup. For many of the world’s best soccer players, the tournament offers a chance to become legends in their home countries and icons in the history of the game. For billions of soccer fans, the tournament offers a chance to participate in modernity’s most sweeping collective frenzy, a spectacle that will shape the emotional context in which much of human life transpires for the next few weeks. For the United States men’s national team, which did not qualify, the tournament offers a chance to feel gloomy while eating Cheetos on the couch.” New Yorker – Brian Phillips


Who’s the Best No. 10 at the World Cup?

June 9, 2018


“In Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics, Jonathan Wilson describes the symbolism of the no. 10 as “the ‘free-spirited epitome of the artistry of soccer.’ And while free-spirits have become fewer and farther between as more money’s been poured into the game and managers have systematized their tactics, the no. 10 is still typically given to the most creative player on the team. Or, in Poland or Nigeria’s case, it’s given to a defensive midfielder best known for his ability to make tackles and pass the ball sideways. But each team has its reasons, and so with all of the World Cup squad lists now officially released, we each ranked all the nos. 10 set to play in Russia this summer, tallied the results, and came out with the following list. No. 1 is obvious, but that’s about the only spot we came close to agreeing on. Yes, someone, who shall remain nameless out of our sheer fear for his safety, didn’t put Lionel Messi first.” The Ringer


World Cup groups A-D preview – Football Weekly

June 9, 2018

“Max Rushden is joined by voices from around the world to preview World Cup groups A-D, including Danish royalty, Peruvian vigour and the prospect of a tournament without a French meltdown.” Guardian (Audio)


Mexico Wages a Psychological Battle Against Its World Cup Demons

June 7, 2018

“It is a legacy of World Cup consistency, but one in which Mexico no longer wants any part. For six straight World Cups, Mexico has sent a team to the tournament. And for six straight World Cups, it has cheered its heroes through the first round only to see them crash out in the second. One coach after another has tried to break the streak. A few emphasized hard work. One appealed to national pride. One even sought a new mind-set, and a different kind of ending, at the top of an ancient pyramid. As Mexico arrives at the World Cup in Russia, it will be with the country’s most promising lineup in decades.” NY Times


Your complete guide to all 736 players at the 2018 World Cup

June 7, 2018

“Biographies of every player in all 32 squads in Russia, including caps, goals, nicknames, hobbies and, once the tournament starts, ratings for every performance. We strive to give you an unbiased, trustworthy and in-depth view of the world’s most prestigious football tournament. If you think that’s worth something, then you can support The Guardian from as little as £1 – and it only takes a minute.” Guardian


Meet the Five Most Exciting Prospects at the 2018 World Cup

June 6, 2018

“Yes, club soccer has overtaken the international game. And sure, all of the best players play for the best club teams, where they get coached by the best managers, who get to use the best facilities on a daily basis. Meanwhile, national teams congregate only a few times per year, for a friendly there or a qualification match here—and most sides get to play in a competitive tournament only once every 24 months. That’s why a tactic like pressing—swarming your opponent while they have the ball in their own defensive third—has dominated the club game but will be a rare sight in Russia this summer.” The Ringer (Video)


Who Will Win the 2018 World Cup? SI’s Expert Predictions and Knockout Brackets

June 4, 2018


“The World Cup kicks off June 14 in Moscow with a meeting between the two lowest-ranked teams in the field, which, in some ways, is quite appropriate. The competition is meant to be a crescendo, one whose drama and defining moments don’t occur until the very end. With the way the draw and schedule worked out, that’s precisely how Russia 2018 is shaping up to play out. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia will be a massive 90 minutes for the host nation, which can set its tone for the tournament in front of its partisan crowd. But once it’s over, the focus will shift to the traditional powers and the individual superstars who figure to have plenty of say in determining the 2018 world champion. …” SI


North American Bid for World Cup Gets High Marks, but Still Needs Votes

June 2, 2018

“The organization that controls soccer’s World Cup released a report Friday that raises serious concerns about Morocco’s ability to host the 2026 event, but the country’s bid was not disqualified. The assessment by evaluators for FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, could have essentially delivered the World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994 had it outright rejected Morocco’s bid on technical grounds. Instead, Morocco’s survival sets up a furious two-week chase for votes against the other remaining bid, a combined entry from the United States, Mexico and Canada. …” NY Times


Claudio Suárez picks his all-time Mexico XI

May 29, 2018


“In goal it has to be Jorge Campos. Like me, he played in three World Cups and also played in over 100 games for the Mexico national team. In my opinion, he was the best goalkeeper that Mexico has ever had. My first centre-back is Rafael Márquez because of what he has done in Europe with Barcelona, where he won four league titles and two European Cups. He has played over 140 games for the national team too – and he could feature in a fifth World Cup! Carlos Salcido was an extremely efficient centre-back and was so effective in over 120 appearances so he earns a place in my team. …” Guardian


World Cup 2018 team previews: what you need to know about all 32 teams (ESPN)

May 25, 2018


“The 2018 World Cup might be missing some big nations, but that’s what makes this tournament the best in sports. Brazil are looking to bounce back from a travesty in 2014, while Spain, Argentina and France are hoping to dethrone defending champions Germany and their typically deep squad. Can Belgium or Portugal make a splash? Do England have what it takes to challenge too? ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14 in English, Spanish and Portuguese to give a truly global feel to our team profiles. Here’s what you need to know about the 32 teams set to do battle in Russia beginning on June 14. …”
ESPN


2018 FIFA World Cup

May 25, 2018

“The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup held in Europe since the 2006 tournament in Germany, and the first ever to be held in Eastern Europe. All of the stadium venues are in European Russia, to keep travel time manageable. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. Of the 32 teams, 20 will be making back-to-back appearances following the last tournament in 2014, including defending champions Germany, while Iceland and Panama will both be making their first appearances at a FIFA World Cup. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. …” Wikipedia


World Cup 2018 squad guide: Latest news and updates ahead of Russia (Independent)

May 25, 2018

“The 2018 World Cup is now only weeks away. The 32 countries have until the May 14 deadline to name their provisional squads for Russia with managers all over the globe currently scratching their heads as they bid to whittle down their long list of possibles and probables in time for the final June 4 cut off, just 10 days before the opener in Moscow. However, many teams – England included, – have already pledged to name their lucky few earlier with Gareth Southgate set to pick his 23 before the final pre-tournament friendlies with Nigeria and Costa Rica. …” Independent (Video)


Mexico World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

April 5, 2018

“As seems to be the case every four years, Mexico will arrive at the 2018 World Cup with the mission to advance to the quarter-finals while wrapped in doubts and in the middle of a heated public debate about the quality of the team and its coach. However, unlike on most other occasions, this time El Tri topped the CONCACAF qualifying table with ease . Given the quality at their disposal, if the draw is kind to them, this time around the team might just end its streak of six consecutive round-of-16 exits. …” World Soccer


World Cup 2018: Hats off to debutants Panama, as England await

February 22, 2018


“In the protracted campaign for World Cup qualification, a little luck can go a long way. Panama are one of only two teams that will make their debuts in the finals this year – the other is Iceland – but unlike the men from the very margin of Europe, virtually nothing is known about the Central Americans. Which is partly because they haven’t done a great deal in the past century. But they did knock out the Americans to get to Russia, albeit not without a touch of controversy and good fortune. …” Football Pink


Who Will Osorio Call? Projecting Mexico’s 2018 World Cup Roster

November 30, 2017


“It’s an exciting week for the Mexico national team, manager Juan Carlos Osorio and their fans as they all anxiously await Friday’s World Cup draw to see who will go up against El Tri in the group stage in next summer’s tournament in Russia. Mexico, the highest-seeded CONCACAF team according to the FIFA rankings, is in pot two for the draw and will avoid teams like Spain, Uruguay and Colombia, but it could face other tournament favorites such as Germany, France, Argentina and even Brazil for a second straight World Cup (in 2014 it played against the host and faced Croatia and Cameroon in the opening stage). The hope for many, especially Osorio, is that the draw is kind to them and his team even envisions winning the group, an accomplishment last achieved in 2002. …” SI


World Cup 2018 power rankings: Germany on top among qualified 23

October 12, 2017


“Twenty-three nations have booked their places for the World Cup in Russia, with the holders and Brazil looking in good shape but we rank England in 13th place, below Iceland.” Guardian (Video)


United States Misses World Cup for First Time Since 1986

October 12, 2017


“COUVA, Trinidad and Tobago — There was always a chance that a year would come when the United States again failed to qualify for the World Cup, when the hurdles in the nearly two-year slog of regional qualification — the matches on steamy afternoons and muggy nights, the hard tackles and the coin-throwing fans, the lousy fields and the dubious refereeing — all proved too much. That year is 2017. Trinidad and Tobago, whose World Cup dreams ended months ago, stunned the United States, 2-1, on Tuesday night. The result, combined with just-as-shocking outcomes in two simultaneous games in Honduras and Panama on the final day of qualifying for the Concacaf region, ushered in the unthinkable: The American men, mainstays of the World Cup for more than a generation, are out of next summer’s tournament in Russia. …”
NY Times, How the United States Missed the World Cup, Minute by Minute


U.S. National Team Still Controls Its Own World Cup Destiny

October 5, 2017


“The easiest route to the World Cup, any national team will tell you, is through the front door. Win your qualifying games and you can’t be left out. No worries. No math. No if-we-do-this-and-they-do-that calculations. Win, and you’re in. This, then, is the most appealing route for the United States national team over the next six days. If Coach Bruce Arena and his players win their final two qualifying games, at home against Panama on Friday and at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night, they can pack their bags for Russia 2018. …” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Monarcas 3-0 Xolos | Monarcas’ Pressing And Xolos’ Offside Trap

October 3, 2017

“Monarcas and Xolos both entered the match in decent form, although the home side were slight favourites to win. In the end, they did the job and won 3-0 to put them back in a playoff spot. Tijuana had a nightmare of a match tactically, with many issues particularly in the defence. The attack wasn’t clicking for them at any point in the match, while Monarcas who are usually a structured and defensively solid side enjoyed the game. …” Outside of the Boot


Global Series | Top 10 North American Players of 2015: Chicharito, Dempsey and Navas feature

December 19, 2016

“… 4. ORIBE PERALTA One of the best strikers in Mexican football at the moment, Oribe Peralta has been around with the Mexican team for a number of years now, but only recently became a regular selection. the striker is famous among fans of El Tri for the brace he scored in the final of the 2012 Olympics to win the gold medal for Mexico against a fancied Brazil team. Having been around in Mexican football for some time, Peralta has represented a number of clubs from the Liga MX, but is now one of the important players at Club America.” Outside of the Boot


Confronting Columbus: How Mexico is planning to combat its Dos A Cero past

November 18, 2016

“It’s possible that Mexico’s most significant call-up ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against the U.S. isn’t on coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s roster. This call-up won’t be in uniform in Columbus. He won’t break a sweat or kick a ball. Imanol Ibarrondo’s contribution is expected to be intangible. It’ll have to be. He’s Spanish, not Mexican, and he’s 49 years old. Ibarrondo once played professionally. He’s now an author, sports psychologist, consultant and motivational speaker who tries to help athletes and coaches bring out their best. Columbus is a place where Mexico certainly hasn’t been at its best.” SI


‘It Is America. But I Want to Play in Mexico.’

November 11, 2016

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“EL PASO, Tex. — Night fell and the thick, heavy air was cut by a sharp, chilling breeze, the sort of West Texas wind that made it feel as if the whole city had a fever. Was it hot out, or cold? The children on the field at Pico Norte Park, which is little more than a bumpy, narrow strip of grass lined for soccer, wore uniforms and quickly broke a sweat; the parents ringing the sideline wore jeans and sleeves as they watched and cheered and occasionally shivered.” NY Times


USA-Mexico World Cup qualifier given added tension in wake of Trump victory

November 11, 2016

“Tensions ahead of an always charged USA-Mexico soccer game this Friday have suddenly been magnified by the election of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president. Trump ran a scorched-earth campaign that openly denigrated immigrants and called for the mass deportation of Mexicans from the United States. His incendiary rhetoric – Trump called Mexican immigrants, among other things, rapists – could make for an ugly backdrop to a rivalry that has already had its fair share of nasty incidents. There is a real fear that the rhetoric Trump used could make its way into the stands and streets around the stadium, targeting Mexican fans.” Guardian


Tactical Analysis: Mexico 0-7 Chile | Mexico’s lack of coherent shape exposed by brilliant Chile

June 23, 2016

“This Copa America was supposed to be Mexico’s coming out party, when they would announce to the world that they are a legitimate team and on equal ground with their big brothers in South America. The Mexicans have long lived with the stigma of playing in CONCACAF and being alleged flat track bullies. They’ve also long sought to vindicate the quality of their team, with guest appearances in Copa America and at the World Cup. But this Copa America Centenario, in America, in front of 95% Mexican crowds, coming off a great year, was supposed to be different than the previous ones. Finally Mexico would prove itself on the world stage. Chile also came in with a chip on their shoulder. The defending Copa champions, the Chileans felt they should have gotten more than just a year to hold the cup. On top of that, Argentina had fairly easily beaten them in their first game, and Chile wanted vindication, as people focused on other international teams.” Outside of the Boot


Juan Carlos Osorio’s tinkering with Mexico fails as Chile find their feet

June 19, 2016

“In a warm-up friendly just before the Copa America Centenario — it seems a long time ago now — Mexico beat Chile by a single goal. But maybe the seeds of the extraordinary rout at Santa Clara were sown there? That 1-0 scoreline did not really reflect the balance of play. In the first half, especially, Chile could have scored plenty of their own. So there was plenty for Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio to think about as he contemplated meeting Chile for a second time — no longer a friendly, but now with a place in the Copa semifinals at stake.” ESPN – Tim Vickery


Eduardo Vargas’ four goals set Chile up for stunning 7-0 win vs Mexico

June 19, 2016

Chile’s Eduardo Vargas celebrates after scoring against Mexico during a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, June 18, 2016. Chile won 7-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
“Chile booked a place in the Copa America Centenario semifinals with a 7-0 thumping of Mexico. Eduardo Vargas scored four goals, while Edson Puch scored twice. Alexis Sanchez did his bit as well, by scoring one goal and adding two assists. Here are three thoughts on a stunning night.” ESPN


Can Diego Godin and Uruguay fight back at the Copa America?

June 6, 2016

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“Uruguay may well have felt that it was not going to be their night when they lined up before the game and were forced to listen to the national anthem of Chile. And things soon got worse when they went behind to the first CONCACAF goal of the tournament — and even that was scored by a South American player — with Uruguay left-back Alvaro Pereira inadvertently deflecting an early cross past his own keeper.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)

Rafa Marquez heroics lead Mexico over Uruguay at Copa America
“Longtime Mexico captain Rafa Marquez was the hero in Mexico’s Copa America opener, scoring the game-winning goal in a wild 3-1 triumph over Uruguay at a raucous University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Uruguay had the trifecta of misfortune between the pregame festivities and halftime. Tournament organizers unfathomably played the Chilean national anthem for Uruguay, citing “human error” in a forced statement. Within four minutes, Alvaro Pereira had headed home Andres Guardado’s cross into his own net, and right before halftime Matias Vecino picked up his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona.” SI (Video)


Show Your Copa Colors

June 6, 2016

“The 100th edition of the Copa America hits U.S. shores from June 3 to June 26, and all 16 nations from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL will be sporting some slick new kits. Check out their home/away looks and download your favorites.” ESPN


Copa América 2016: Who’s In, Who’s Hurt and Who Could Win It

June 4, 2016

“The Copa América Centenario, born in scandal and saved only by the promise of better behavior (and the presence of some pretty good soccer teams), kicks off Friday night when the United States faces Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif. The 16-team event is being played outside South America for the first time as a celebration of its 100th anniversary, and while a handful of top players have been left out or ruled out by injury, there is plenty left in the cupboard, including four of the eight quarterfinalists from the last World Cup. Here’s what you need to know before the tournament begins.” NY Times


Copa America 2016: 10 Young Player to Watch

June 4, 2016

“As the centenary version of the Copa America gets set to kick off this Friday, we here at Outside of the Boot are excited to present this list, featuring ten youngsters (22 and under at the start of the tournament) who could play an important role over the coming month. Admittedly, this isn’t the best tournament for young players, as several intriguing players (Paulo Dybala, most notably) weren’t selected while a handful of others (Jesus Manuel Corona, John Brooks) narrowly miss the age cut-off. Nevertheless, much as the likes of Derlis Gonzalez and Romel Quinonez impressed last summer, seemingly from out of nowhere, there are sure to be a few breakout stars this summer.” Outside of the Boot


SI’s Copa America Centenario picks

May 31, 2016

Copa-America
“Copa America Centenario is a unique competition, one that pits South America’s 10 sides against each other and some of the best CONCACAF has to offer. Despite some of the stars who won’t be participating this summer–namely Neymar–and some of the nations who missed out, this is as close as it gets to a World Cup-style competition reserved for the Western Hemisphere. With that said, there can only be one winner. Argentina is out to end a trophy drought that is in its third decade. Mexico is out to make a statement against its South American foes. The U.S. is out to achieve material success under Jurgen Klinsmann for the first time since the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.” SI

Copa America Centenario group previews

Chicharito has been loved, hated and loved again
“HE’S THE FIRST player out of the clubhouse. The Mexican reporters are unprepared, chatting with each other behind the metal barricade. They turn their heads when the door scrapes open, lunging for their microphones. A camera stand nearly topples. Javier Hernandez is small and slight. At 28, his body seems barely removed from boyhood. Yet even in an unadorned black tracksuit, charisma flies off him like sweat off a boxer. As he strides through the mixed zone underneath Vancouver’s BC Place, someone calls his nickname: ‘Chicharito! Hey, Chicharito!'” ESPN

Copa America Centenario – News


Rivals: Chivas vs América

May 5, 2016

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“Mexican football has multiple local derby matches in the cities of Guadalajara (Clásico Tapatío), Monterrey (Clásico Regiomontano) and Mexico City (Clásico Joven and Clásico Capitalino), but the game worthy of the title Clásico Nacional is a cross-city clash. Games between Chivas of Guadalajara and América of Mexico City, known as Clásico Nacional, El Súper Clásico or El Clásico de Clásicos, grab the attention of people across the nation, as well as expatriates  outside of Mexico. With the large Mexican-American population in the US, the game has become a major event in the US as well as Mexico, with this year’s match the most watched game in the US since 2010.” Outside of the Boot


Analysing Liga MX’s most talented players: Avilés Hurtado

April 1, 2016

“Who is Aviles Hurtado? 28-year-old Avilés Hurtado is a versatile attacking player, currently playing for Chiapas in Liga MX. Somewhat of a late developer, Hurtado only made his debut in the Colombian league seven years ago, for América de Cali. After a couple of years in Cali, Hurtado moved to Medellín in 2011 to join another Colombian giant, Atlético Nacional. Hurtado’s arrival in Mexico came before the 2013 Clausura (second-half of the season) as he moved to Pachuca.” Outside of the Boot


Inter and the Left

March 20, 2016

“Football’s relationship with politics both on the left and right has been well documented. Those who wish to reinforce their ideology over those whom they rule or wish to, have never been short on using the sport for its propaganda purposes and Mexico’s socialist Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) are no different. The EZLN were formed in late 1983 and based themselves in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Their foundation was made amongst the complex ideologies of Mexico’s urban north and the indigenous populations of the remote areas of eastern Chiapas. Using connections between the local peasantry and the Catholic Church the group soon began to have a popular following. On January 1 1994 the EZLN made a public statement which in effect declared war upon the Mexican government.” In Bed With Maradona


Entering the world of Liga MX

February 21, 2016

Mexican fans at a friendly between the Seattle Sounders F.C. and Club Tijuana of the Liga MX. (Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)
“What does it take to get one to watch a football league? Apparently quite a lot. Despite being one of two countries that borders my home country of the United States this intrepid reporter is finally getting into Mexican soccer. It might seem like I might be getting into Mexican soccer a bit late. After all, Mexican soccer matches have been shown on Spanish language television and radio for decades in the United States and Mexican soccer players have made their impact on local club teams such as former Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Jorge Campos and former Chicago Fire Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Although many young goalkeepers in the United States tried to emulate Campos by wearing fuchsia jerseys (may those pictures never get out) and make endeavors on the attack, very few became followers of Liga MX to the extent they do with other foreign leagues.” backpagefootball (Video)


Miguel Herrera is facing a very stressful summer

March 28, 2015

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“The most famous image of Miguel Herrera shows the Mexico head coach going super saiyan. Exuberant goal celebrations like that one have gone viral since his Club América days, but the most popular depicts Herrera twisting and yelling before the edit kicks in to make him transform in Dragon Ball Z style. When Mexico entered the global spotlight at last summer’s World Cup, the gifs made Herrera El Tri’s biggest star.” Soccer Gods


Comeback at Cruz Azul hints Chivas may not be terrible

February 23, 2015

“It was a tactic Chivas manager Chepo de la Torre had tried before. Mostly out of options in Saturday’s match at Cruz Azul, he turned to it again. Down 1-0 late, one of Mexico’s greatest clubs was in a position that’s become all too familiar – one of desperation. Without a result against La Máquina, de la Torre’s team would be even with Puebla near the bottom of the relegation table, with only recently-promoted Universidad de Guadalajara separating the Guadalajara giants from Liga MX’s relegation spot.” Soccer Gods


Liga MX’s small city realities care not for improvement at Veracruz and Querétaro

February 10, 2015

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“Friday’s match between Veracruz and Querétaro offered little to fans who prefer to spend their time near the top of the Liga MX standings, but average plods of the two not so good, not quite bad teams shed light on the tough times faced by the top flight’s smaller city clubs. While Veracruz has enjoyed a mini-renaissance so far in Clausura 2015, it is still near the bottom of the porcentaje (relegation) table. Dropping is more than a possibility. Meanwhile, Querétaro has new backers and brought in Ronaldinho but still languishes outside the Liquilla playoff spots. Both teams, badly needing a wins to kick-start their tournaments, were left sharing the spoils after a 1-1 draw. Can either really take heart in the result?” Soccer Gods

Soccer Gods – Liga MX