Soccer birthdays: Argentine international Javier Mascherano turns 28. Nigerian international and Fulham midfielder Dickson Etuhu turns 30.
Big Important Story of the Day: This is like Christmas Day for soccer fans. We finally get to start tearing off the wrapping of regional World Cup qualifying and the UEFA European Championship. Let’s face it, days like this are proof that the big referee in the sky loves us and wants us to be happy.
Ahead on the blog today: Lots and lots from Tampa, where the United States meets Antigua and Barbuda, plus all the action from Poland and Ukraine.
What we should all be watching on TV: Two games on ESPN from Euro 2012 – Poland vs. Greece at noon ET, and Russia vs. Czech Republic at 2:45 p.m. ET. Coverage on those begins about half and hour earlier. And those are just the afternoon warmups! The United States meets Antigua & Barbuda at 7 p.m. (on ESPN and Spanish-language Galavision). And finally, Mexico meets Guyana at 7:50 p.m. on Spanish-language Univision.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Thomas Dooley
Twitter daps: U.S. international and Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan (@SachaKljestan): Just did a EURO 2012 bracket prediction. My top 2 from each group: Poland, Russia, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, England, France.
ESPN analyst Monica Gonzalez (@MonicaGonzo), who is with the U.S. team in Tampa: Euros & World Cup qualifiers begin tomorrow. My predictions: 1. Spain wins euros 2.#usmnt scores within 8 min
We’ll leave you with this: The weather man in Tampa just promised we’ll see from rays of sun here today … but also warned it would happen only in spurts. “Sunglasses and umbrellas today!” he tells us. This one’s gonna be close.