Getty Images

With the USA out, who should you support at the World Cup?

6 Comments

Two days on from the disaster in Trinidad and Tobago, I thought this would be easier to write: the USA will not be at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Damn. It still hurts. But it is, unfortunately, reality.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news

With huge watch parties in streets, bars and even stadiums across the U.S. for the 2014 World Cup, none of that will happen next summer as fans across America cannot support their own team. What the heck do you do now?

It is simple: pick another team.

[ MORE: Was is impact of USA missing the World Cup? ] 

We know you’ll be watching every World Cup game religiously so you might as well have a team you really, really care about and also an extra reason to slam your desk super hard on a wet Tuesday morning throughout June and July is always helpful…

Here are some options on how to select your squad for the biggest show on earth next summer with 23 of the 32-team field currently confirmed.


1. Support your ancestors

This is America, so we know how closely we are connected to the nations our ancestors were from. With that in mind, England, Poland, Germany, Italy and plenty of South (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay and maybe Peru) and Central American teams will be getting plenty of support in the USA next summer. Warning: get ready to be branded a bandwagon fan if you select the big European and South American nations…


2. Go for a plucky underdog so you’re not branded a “glory hunter” or “bandwagon fan”

What up, Iceland!? Nobody can accuse you of being a bandwagon fan because Iceland are the smallest-ever nation (population approx. 340,000) to ever qualify for the World Cup. Plus, doing the Viking thunderclap with tons of people is awesome. Other underdogs who are borderline hipster include Serbia, Northern Ireland (if they make it through their playoff) and Egypt. All great stories and all have a decent chance of causing upsets.


3. Dare I say, support the CONCACAF teams

Well, we can’t beat them so we might as well join them… There is a very valid argument that CONCACAF teams doing well at the 2018 World Cup would be huge for the region moving forward. Mexico will have a massive fanbase Stateside, while Costa Rica and Panama are both fun to watch and the latter fully fall into the underdog category at their first-ever World Cup. Fans of all three of the CONCACAF teams at the World Cup will be spread all over the U.S. so you can at least watch games with their fans and feel like you’re part of it. Sad face.


4. Pick a team because of a superstar player

A self-explanatory one, this:

Cristiano Ronaldo = Portugal
Lionel Messi = Argentina
Neymar = Brazil
Luis Suarez = Uruguay
Harry Kane = England
Gigi Buffon = Italy
David Silva = Spain
Eden Hazard = Belgium
Paul Pogba = France
James Rodriguez = Colombia
Robert Lewandowski = Poland


5. A random draw

Write the name of all 32 teams who qualify on separate pieces of papers and put them all in a hat, jumble them up, pick one and, bob’s your uncle. Come onnnnnn, Belgiummmmm!

WATCH LIVE: Everton vs. Swansea City

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton looks to continue its upswing while reversing the hoodoo of Swansea City when it hosts the Welsh side at Goodison Park on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Swans have not lost to Everton in three seasons, but sit bottom of the Premier League table.

Sam Allardyce started Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ashley Williams against the former side, while Paul Clement will hope to get an upset with Wilfried Bony up top.

LINEUPS

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Martina, Holgate, Williams, Schneiderlin, Gana Gueye, Lennon, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Robles, Keane, Jagielka, Ramirez, Davies, Vlasic, Lookman.

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Roque Mesa, Fer, Carroll, Dyer, Narsingh, Bony. Subs: Nordfeldt, van der Hoorn, Rangel, Clucas, Sanches, Ayew, Abraham.

Timbers make it official: Savarese is the new boss

Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Portland Timbers have made it official, announcing the hiring of New York Cosmos architect Giovanni Savarese as the successor to Caleb Porter.

Savarese, 46, led the Cosmos to three NASL Championship Games in his first run as a manager, following a playing career that included stops at Millwall, NY/NJ MetroStars, and Swansea City. He attended Long Island University, and was capped 30 times with 10 goals for Venezuela.

[ BLANC: I turned down USMNT talks ]

He’s an intriguing hire for Portland, who won an MLS Cup but suffered from inconsistency under the highly-regarded Porter (twice missing the playoffs but twice earning the West’s No. 1 seed). While the Cosmos regularly spent well, Savarese navigated the uncertain waters of a nascent league with regular success.

From Timbers.com:

“I am both excited and proud to become the head coach of the Portland Timbers, and this is an ideal fit and outstanding opportunity for me as I take the next step in my coaching career,” Savarese said. “The passion, ambition and support surrounding this club is truly inspiring, and I am sincerely honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead it on the pitch and to build on the club’s history of success for the community and the incredible supporters of the Portland Timbers.”

The hiring has been rumored for some time. Though Savarese was loyal to the Cosmos, the NASL’s future has been hung in the hands of the legal system for some time due to a bold lawsuit against U.S. Soccer Federation. The NASL contends that the relationships between the USSF, Soccer United Marketing, United Soccer League, and Major League Soccer have conspired to stop the NASL from competing with MLS as a D-1 league.

LVG would only return to club football to get at Man Utd

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Leave it to The Daily Mirror to find that last bit of juice when it comes to Manchester United and former manager Louis Van Gaal.

Well, probably the last bit.

The Dutch manager said he does not expect to return to club football, unless one of the big boys in the Premier League offered him the chance to take a run at United. The Red Devils, of course, fired him shortly after an FA Cup title in order to hire Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: WBA 1-2 Man Utd | Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool ]

From The Mirror, quoting LVG at a Sunday night function in Rotterdam.

“I will probably not manage a club anymore,” Van Gaal said. “I would make one exception: If a big English club comes for me, than I would do it. Because then I can get the chance to get one over on Manchester United.’’

Could you see him getting a run at any of the Top Four contenders, even on a caretaker basis? Could Liverpool come calling if they tired of Jurgen Klopp one season, or might Arsenal or even Everton need a stopgap (should the Toffees spending come good)?

Suspended Villar says Spain in danger of missing World Cup

AP Photo/Paul White
1 Comment

The suspended president of the Spanish soccer federation, who is under investigation for corruption, tried Monday to stoke up fears that the country could be kicked out of the World Cup because of government interference.

Angel Maria Villar, who is free on bail, spoke at a news conference in Madrid and again denied any wrongdoing. He also blamed the government for meddling in the federation’s affairs by suspending him.

“This government is putting Spain’s participation in the World Cup at risk,” the 67-year-old Villar said in his first news conference since being arrested in July along with his son, Gorka Villar, and two other officials.

[ BLANC: I turned down USMNT talks ]

“The risk is serious,” Villar said. “The only party responsible for Spain not going to the World Cup will be the Spanish government.”

Villar spoke three days after FIFA said it was concerned about the independence of the Spanish soccer federation and that it would soon send a delegation to analyze the situation. FIFA made no mention of a possible suspension of the federation, which could keep Spain out of next year’s World Cup in Russia or even knock Real Madrid and Barcelona out of the Champions League.

Villar, who has spent time behind bars to impede the possible destruction of evidence, and the other three officials are being investigated for alleged improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar resigned his vice presidencies of both FIFA and UEFA following his arrest. But he tried to stay on as the head of Spanish federation, a post he held for three decades.

His refusal to listen to pleas for him to step down led the Spanish government to suspend him from the post for one year pending the outcome of the investigation. Court documents allege that besides misappropriated funds, Villar is suspected of corrupting several regional federations by offering favors in exchange for votes.

Villar fired back at the government, saying his suspension had broken FIFA rules since it represented interference in the federation’s management.

“It’s easy to see that the source of concern was my arbitrary and unjustified removal from the presidency of the federation and for not respecting the presumption of innocence,” Villar said, adding that other teams are ready to take Spain’s place at the World Cup.

“Be careful. There are other powerful countries that didn’t qualify like Italy that are waiting to pounce and take our place,” Villar said.

Spain, which won the World Cup in 2010, is considered to be among the favorites for next year’s tournament.