World Cup Round of 16: Match-ups, schedules, more

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For two weeks, the Round of 16 has been a hypothetical. Now that the games are set, here’s what you need to know about the second round of the 2014 World Cup.

Format and changes

  • Top two teams from the tournament’s eight groups have advanced, slotting into a pre-determined bracket;
  • Teams that finished first in one group will face second place-finishers from others;
  • Games start on Saturday and will happen two-per-day until the quarterfinals are set on Tuesday;
  • If a game is tied after 90 minutes, there’ll be 30 minutes of extra time, then penalty kicks;
  • Your margin for error is over – it’s now win or go home;
  • Yellow cards carry over from group stage and will continue matter in the knockout round.

Here are the eight matches, which begin on Saturday at noon ET. Winners of each day’s games play each other in the quarterfinals. Your bracket is at the bottom of the post, or can be seen here.

[ MORE – SOCCERLY: Klinsmann sees potential to make history ]

Schedule
Saturday, June 28

Brazil vs. Chile, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Belo Horizonte – The home nation will be favorites, but a midfield that failed to impress during group stage will have its hands full with an energetic Roja. Slotted adjacent to Colombia-Uruguay, this pod ensures one South American team will make it to the tournament’s semifinals.

Colombia vs. Uruguay, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Rio de Janeiro – The day’s second all-South America matchup with see the CONMEBOL champions, without Luis Suárez, take on the favored Cafeteros. Colombia’s attacking midfielder James Rodríguez has been one of the stars of the tournament, while Edinson Cavani will be asked to step up in the wake of his suspended teammate.

Sunday, June 29

Netherlands vs. Mexico, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Fortaleza – The Dutch have been as strong as any team in the tournament, but allowing only one goal in group play, Mexico’s already showed the quality to keep up with the Oranje. Their veteran defense led by Rafa Márquez will be tasked with slowing the competition’s most potent striker tandem: Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.

Costa Rica vs. Greece, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Recife – The least-likely of the knockout round match ups features two teams who’ve found success without seeing much of the ball. Greece’s last minute winner against the Ivory Coast clinched their first knockout round spot, while Costa Rica were the surprise winners of one of the tournament’s deepest groups. Shockingly, one of these teams will be in the quarterfinals.

Monday, June 30

France vs. Nigeria, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Brasilía – Though they were drawn in their last group game by Ecuador, France has been one of the tournament’s best teams. Nigeria, much like Greece and Algeria, were the beneficiaries of a thin group, finishing second behind Argentina. On paper, this is one of the most lopsided of the round’s matchups, but given the surprises we’ve seen throughout the tournament, there’s no Round of 16 mismatch that can’t be overcome.

Germany vs. Algeria, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Porto Alegre – Despite stumbling in their second group game against Ghana, Germany remains one of the tournament’s favorites, with a possible matchup against France potentially providing semifinal quality in the round of eight. To get there, however, the Germans will have deal with the team they controversially put out of the 1982 World Cup. Though collusion with Austria kept Algeria from getting out of the teams’ group in Spain, Algeria is finally into the knockout round after Thursday’s draw with Russia.

Tuesday, July 1

Argentina vs. Switzerland, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, São Paulo – Four goals from Lionel Messi pushed the Argentines to the top of Group F, while Switzerland recovered from its thrashing by France to make the final 16. Both teams have a wealth of attacking talent, but Argentina’s is amongst the best in the world.

Belgium vs. United States, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Salvador – Belgium is one of four perfect teams remaining in the tournament yet failed to show it in any of their three group matches. They’ll still be favored over the U.S., however, though the resiliency the Americans showed to get out of a difficult group will force the Belgians to play closer to their potential.

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Benitez happy to stay at Newcastle if he “has the tools to compete”

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Rafa Benitez is approaching something vaguely resembling sainthood in the northeast of England — with the Newcastle United-supporting portion, at least — but his future remains in doubt as the end of the current Premier League season draws nearer and the next one approaches.

[ MORE: Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the year award ]

Benitez and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley have endured an unhappy working relationship for much of Benitez’s 25 months at the club. The Spaniard was true to his word, though, when he stuck around another season after being relegated from the PL in 2016, then again after winning promotion on the Magpies’ first attempt, but he’ll be faced with the same dilemma again this summer, even after guiding Newcastle to a mid-table finish (they currently sit 10th with five games left to play).

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

If he’s not given assurances that he’ll be handed the necessary funds to properly strengthen his squad during the upcoming summer transfer window, the 58-year-old could very well walk away and leave Ashley to play the part of all-too-familiar villain. Or, as Benitez put it this weekend, Ashley could fork over “the tools to be capable of competing” and make everyone, from the manager to the fans, happy — quotes form the Guardian:

“If they [Ashley’s representatives] want to talk to my people [about a new contract,] they can talk. The main thing is to be sure we share the same ambition.

“I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time, I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.

“We have to be sure to have all the tools to compete and achieve what we want to achieve because Newcastle is a massive football club and we want it to reach its potential.”

Of course, the perfect scenario for everyone involved would have been for any one of the numerous takeover bids to have gone through during the last two years, but as was most recently evidenced earlier this year, Ashley and the Toon can’t seem to quit each other just yet.

MLS: Timbers end NYCFC’s unbeaten start; Seattle get 1st win

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Sunday was a very good day for a pair of green-clad Cascadia rivals, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, as the former put to end the unbeaten start of the best team in MLS, while the latter picked up their first win of 2018…

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS roundupOther MLS Things — The Archive ]

Portland Timbers 3-0 New York City FC

Through their first seven games, NYCFC were almost inarguably the best team in MLS (aside: how much better is their opening-day walkover of Sporting KC looking these days?), but Patrick Vieira’s side might as well have not even shown up to Providence Park on Sunday. Chalk it up to “it’s only one game,” or “these things happen in MLS,” or “NYC to Portland is a long trip for Russian clubs,” or any other credible rationale you prefer, but they were nothing more than 11 passengers for the whole of 90 minutes.

A quick look at the defending on all three of Portland’s goals…

Vieira was right at halftime, when he said his side was lacking intensity and aggression, and that it’d be nigh impossible to get back into the game in the second half if they continued to play that way. Spoiler: it was, because they did.

Just as I’ll not be rushing to judgment over NYCFC’s no-show performance, I’m not yet buying into the idea that Portland have figured things out defensively on the back of one clean sheet (their first of the season).

Seattle Sounders 3-1 Minnesota United

Speaking of firsts, Seattle are the proud owners of points — as in, more than one point — after putting three past Minnesota but almost fatally failing to kill the game off after going 2-0 up. I’m not sure what any defender in black is doing on this sequence…

Alas, Gustav Svensson, Will Bruin and Jordy Delem were far more clinical with their chances than the Loons…

Still, though, Seattle were completely helpless when it came time to grab control of the game while in a commanding position. Osvaldo Alonso is nowhere near the player he once was, which is a massive problem against teams that set up to counter-attack, as Minnesota did on Sunday. It doesn’t help that Roman Torres and Chad Marshall are the plodding center backs behind him.

The obvious answer to the midfield problem is to play Cristian Roldan deeper, alongside Alonso as they did en route to winning MLS Cup in 2016, but injuries to a number of key attackers have forced him into a de facto no. 10 role for the time being. These things will work themselves out with a bit of time, I suppose.

Full MLS scoreboard

Sporting Kansas City 6-0 Vancouver Whitecaps (Friday) — FULL RECAP
Montreal Impact 3-5 Los Angeles FC — FULL RECAP
Houston Dynamo 5-1 Toronto FC
New York Red Bulls 1-2 Chicago Fire
Columbus Crew SC 2-2 New England Revolution
Orlando City SC 3-2 San Jose Earthquakes
FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union
Real Salt Lake 3-0 Colorado Rapids
LA Galaxy 0-2 Atlanta United

Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the Year award

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LONDON (AP) Mohamed Salah has been voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in English football in recognition of an incredible scoring return to the Premier League with Liverpool.

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

The Egypt forward collected the Professional Footballers’ Association award at a ceremony in London on Sunday, two days before Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma.

It is a reunion with the Italian club he left in the offseason for 42 million euros (then $47 million). The hefty fee appeared to be a gamble for Liverpool but now represents a real bargain.

The former Chelsea player has scored 41 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool – enabling him to beat Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in second place to the PFA award.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was third.

[ MORE: Man City thrash Swansea in pursuit of points record ]

“It’s a big honor,” Salah said. “I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it.”

Salah is preparing to lead Egypt into its first World Cup in 28 years and he is the first player from the North African nation to win English football’s top individual prize.

“Hopefully I’m not the last one,” he said. “I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”

Salah’s impact has been more remarkable given his underwhelming 2014-15 season at Chelsea before being offloaded by then-manager Jose Mourinho. He went on loan to Fiorentina in early 2015 and Roma in 2016, and then on a permanent basis to Roma in August 2016.

Scoring 15 goals and setting up 11 more for Roma convinced Liverpool to bring Salah back to a second spell in England.

[ MORE: Liverpool draw West Brom in final tune-up before UCL semis ]

His goal at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was his 31st in the league this season, tying the scoring record in a 38-game campaign held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer and Luis Suarez.

Suarez was the last Liverpool player to be crowned player of the year by the PFA in 2014 before moving to Barcelona.

It’s a sign of his remarkable impact that Salah secured the award with third-place Liverpool and that none of Manchester City’s newly crowned champions won the accolade.

But City winger Leroy Sane was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

The PFA women’s player award went to Chelsea forward Fran Kirby, while Lauren Hemp of Bristol City secured the young player prize.

CONCACAF cancels women’s U-17 tournament due to violence

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) CONCACAF has canceled the rest of its 2018 Women’s Under-17 Championship following violence in Managua, Nicaragua, where the tournament began Thursday.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football made the announcement Sunday. The tournament was to have determined the region’s qualifiers for the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay, which starts Nov. 13.

More than two dozen people have been killed since Wednesday according to the independent Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, though the government had acknowledged only nine dead. Dozens of shops in Managua were looted during protests and disturbances sparked by government social security reforms.

The U.S. opened Friday with a 4-0 win over Costa Rica and had been scheduled to play Bermuda on Sunday and Canada on Tuesday.