The Play by Play
The World Cup tournament offers not only entertaining games but also wonderful stories. Thirty two years ago, a man named Beto Granados had a ticket to watch his home team Mexico battle for a spot in the tournament’s quarterfinals. As a diehard fan, he couldn’t wait to cheer his team to victory. But it turned out his wife had other plans, going into labor two weeks early with their first child. Missing what was one of Mexico’s most memorable World Cup games, with an unforgettable goal by Manuel Negrete, Beto never stopped hoping he’d someday see his team compete in the biggest tournament on earth. Earlier this year, his son Roberto, born during that historic game, submitted an entry into FIFA’s “Bring Someone Special” competition, highlighting his father and their story. Out of 13,000 entries from 150 countries, FIFA chose his. The two received an all-expense paid trip to Russia and will undoubtedly watch as many of Mexico’s matches as possible. And thankfully, their team is off to a strong start, defeating Germany 1-0.
As for the other competitors, Spain started the tournament with a brand new coach. Just days prior to the World Cup, the team fired Julen Lopetegui upon learning he’d accepted a coaching job with Real Madrid and not included the Royal Spanish Football Federation in the process. Having tied Portugal 3-3 in its first match, it will be interesting to see how or if a new coach affects Spain’s performance. Somewhat ironically, it was a Real Madrid star, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored all three of Portugal’s goals (more than he’s scored in all previous World Cup appearances combined and making him the oldest player in tournament history to tally a hat trick). Perhaps Ronaldo’s performance momentarily distracted him from the less than cheerful reality of owing $21.8 million in fines for tax evasion. The entire country of Portugal is currently thrilled he headed to Russia instead of to prison.
World Cup. 2026
Yes, despite the 2018 World Cup having just started, US soccer fans are already discussing the 2026 tournament. Why? Because Mexico, Canada and the United States just won their joint bid to host it. Beating out Morocco, the victory certainly gives soccer fans in the states something about which to be hopeful. It is also the first time three countries will share in the hosting responsibilities and will feature an expanded field of 48 (rather than the current 32) teams. Sixty of the eighty matches will take place within the US. Mexico and Canada will host ten a piece.
While both the Capitals and the Warriors held parades in celebration of their respective championship wins, it was the Golden State event that found itself in the headlines far more frequently. Draymond Green wore a t-shirt that took a clear jab at LeBron James, who they’d just defeated. The clothing item, sporting a clenched fist with three rings, directly referenced a tweet James made earlier in the year. And this wasn’t the only means by which the Warriors trolled the All-Star.
The team also spent nearly $1 million on celebratory booze. They went through six hundred bottles of fancy champagne in the locker room, some costing $1,500 a bottle. With beer included, the post-game celebration cost $400,000. Then they paraded, adding $500,000 to an already expensive beverage bill. That’s a lot of booze. Despite the endless parties, when asked the most exciting part of the past week, Kerr mentioned receiving a text of congratulations from Tiger Woods. Having bonded over bad backs last year, the two apparently now keep in touch.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female: Erica Wilkins (Dancer): A former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader who is suing the team. She claims the Cowboys failed to pay her minimum wage and that her total income last year was just over $16,000. Apparently, the mascot made more money.
Terrell Owens (Football): A recent inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame. The wide receiver however declined to attend his own induction ceremony. While strange, it also makes perfect sense as TO’s always done just what he’s wanted.
Ndamukong Suh (Football): Quite possibly the biggest soccer fan in the NFL. Suh grew up playing the sport but ultimately decided to focus on American football upon growing to 6’ 4” and over 300 pounds. His sister, however, played for the Cameroonian National Team in 2008 and his father had a brief professional stint in Germany. With Cameroon failing to make the tournament, Suh will be cheering for Nigeria (the team with perhaps the coolest kit on the field).
Brooks Koepka (Golf): The first back-to-back US Open Champion since 1988-89 and only the seventh in history. Koepka finished one stroke ahead of Tommy Fleetwood to end the tournament at +1. While many hoped Phil Mickelson might bring home his first US Open trophy, instead he made headlines for hitting a moving ball. After his putt missed the hole, he chased after it, striking it a second time before it stopped. While Phil claims he did it to expedite the game, it proved quite controversial and many thought he should have withdrawn.
During a soccer game there are various infraction levels. There are certainly fouls that result in nothing more than a whistle and subsequent free kick. Then there are incidents when a referee pulls out a yellow or red card, indicating a more severe level of player misconduct. You’ll see referees holding up their fair share of both during the FIFA World Cup. The question is, why/when are they doled out and what are the consequences.
Yellow Card: The lesser offense. Yellow cards are raised when a player: enters or leaves the field without referee permission, fails to maintain the required distance during a corner kick, free kick or throw in, uses inappropriate words or actions to show disagreement, displays unsportsmanlike behavior or consistently ignores the rules. A player who receives his or her first yellow card continues to play in the game and the referee awards the other team a free kick from the spot of the foul. Accumulate two yellows and it equals a red.
Red Card: A player receives a red card when he or she: is guilty of a serious foul/violent behavior, uses offensive gestures or language, spits on an opponent for any reason, or has gotten two yellow cards. A red card results in the player leaving the field for the remainder of the game. Because he or she cannot be replaced, the team must play the rest of the game with one fewer player on the field.
World Cup Matches (Soccer): After a stellar first week, we are hopeful the matches scheduled in the next seven days prove equally as entertaining. One game to watch is France v. Peru on June 21st. While France is clearly more experienced, winning the tournament back in 1998, Peru certainly has the heart. Tying Argentina 0-0 in qualifiers, the South American country looks to do the same, if not better against France. Then, Poland plays Colombia on June 24th. After making it to the quarterfinals in 2014, Colombia leans on the skills of James Rodriguez to hopefully go even further. And losing to Portugal in the 2016 European Championship, leaves Poland and Robert Lewandowski with something to prove. Finally, Argentina (tying Iceland in their first game) faces Croatia (who defeated Nigeria 2-0). Within a tough group, both teams need to win this game to stand a chance of moving to the Round of 16.
Los Angeles Dodgers v. Chicago Cubs (Baseball): These two teams meet for the first time since last year’s National League Championship. The series kicks off on Monday, June 18th at 8:05pm EST.
Yeah, I think that the 2026 World Cup will boost and expand the Soccer fanbase within the United States. Who knows, maybe by 2026 the USMNT may actually be a little competitive.