Will Montero return for Wednesday’s USOC semi? Only if he finds his step up-y-ness

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Something weird happened last week. The world decided to stop liking Fredy Montero. Again.

The ire culminated with Jonah Freedman’s curiously themed piece at MLSSoccer.com. The thesis is in the title: Fredy Montero needs to step up, already. Those 38 goals he’s scored in just over three years of work in the league? Not stepping up, and neither are those 30 lazy, selfish assists. Sure, the list of players who’ve been better over that stretch is pretty thin (and carry names like Landon and DeRo). And true, Seattle has been in the postseason throughout the 24-year-old’s time in King County. And yes, he’s been their attacking focal point throughout, but let’s be honest: There is a distinct lack to step up-y-ness to his game. I think this recent slump proves that (he’s now scoreless in 523 minutes, per link below).

More proof Montero’s bad: He saw pine for Saturday’s match against Colorado (you know, Steve Zakuani’s return game). Montero did come on late, replacing the yellow card-carrying Eddie Johnson, but the selection raised questions. Was this just a night off? An attempt to break a slump? Was it a performance-driven move? Or, as some have tried to frame it, a message? Does Sigi Schmid also desire some step up-y-ness?

Thanks to Sounders beat man Joshua Mayers (go-to on all things SSFC), we know that Occam’s razor fits this conundrum:

“Sometimes taking a step back opens up your eyes,” said coach Sigi Schmid, explaining Montero’s benching. “Sometimes it’s good to get a little bit of a break, because he’s played a lot of minutes and played a lot of games for us.

“I know immediately the reaction is, ‘Oh, it must’ve been a punishment,’ or, ‘Something must’ve happened,’ or something like that, but no. It’s just a different way of, ‘Hey, let’s look at it. Let’s re-evaluate it.’ “

Another interesting caveat, from Mayers:

Schmid attributed much of the Sounders’ struggles in a recent nine-game MLS winless streak to losing their tough-minded mentality and added that Montero’s skill-oriented style of play does little to restore that.

All indications are Montero will be in the team that faces Chivas USA on Wednesday, which only makes the Montero-bashing more confusing. And it’s not just Freedman. Some fans are also taking this time to chastise Seattle’s best player.

I get the fact that people want to see more out of him, but this recent slump not withstanding (everybody should be allowed a slump), Montero’s established a certain level of performance. He’s always scored between 10 and 12 goals. He’s always supplied between seven and 10 assists. Those are pretty narrow ranges.

It’s not like he scored 19 goals in his rookie season and has yet to match the output. But because we’ve never seen Fredy perform to our expectations, we assume he’s under-performing. But where do these expectations come from? Without any proof he can rise to our aspired levels, wouldn’t this be a good time to ask whether our expectations are fair?

Aw, screw that. Let’s call him lazy instead.

I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around a player averaging 11 goals and nine assists through his first three MLS seasons while being lazy. Is he at times lazy? I’ll give you that, but I’ll give you that about every player. I even saw Dax McCarty walking, once. I can’t remember a truly prolific player in any league who could accurately be called lazy. Every lazy player I’ve seen has been very bad at professional soccer.

The Montero bashers have had their annual moment to vent. In all likelihood, Montero will soon return to his former self, end the season with double-digit goals, and we can all forget this ever happened. Until next year.

England vs Senegal: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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England and Senegal square off in the last 16 of the World Cup with plenty of pressure on the Three Lions and next to none on the Lions of Terranga.

There is a whiff of an upset in the air.

STREAM LIVE ENGLAND v SENEGAL

Gareth Southgate’s England have been solid so far at the World Cup, finishing top of Group B with minimum fuss as they are unbeaten but they’re still capable of putting in a stodgy, stale display as we saw against the USA. The attacking talent of this English side has many believing they can at least better their fourth-place finish at the 2018 World Cup.

As for Senegal, sans Sadio Mane they did very well to get out of Group A but this challenge will be a huge one for the reigning AFCON champs. Can Aliou Cisse’s side be solid enough defensively to give themselves a chance to cause a shock?

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for England vs Senegal


How to watch England vs Senegal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET – Sunday, December 4
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor 
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

When it comes to England they have so many wonderful attacking players that it’s so hard to get them all on the pitch at the same time. It is also tough for Southgate to get the balance of the team right. When England clicks up top they are almost unstoppable and Harry Kane is the chief creator as well as the biggest goal threat. But he’s yet to score in this tournament as Rashford, Saka and Co. have done the damage. Defensively John Stones and Harry Maguire have been excellent too and this will all be about if England are brave enough to come flying out of the traps and back their star forwards to have the win wrapped up by half time. England have no injury issues, although Ben White has flown back to the UK for personal reasons so the Three Lions squad now has 25 members who are all fully fit. That makes preparing to play England a nightmare as they could roll out so many different combinations and formations in midfield and attack.

Senegal has nothing to lose which is very dangerous in a knockout game. They have great experience in their side with Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy holding them together defensively and at the other end of the pitch Ismaila Sarr has really stepped up in attack in the absence of their superstar Sadio Mane. If Mane hadn’t been ruled out of this tournament due to injury, we would probably be talking about this Senegal side as a potential semifinalist. If England make a mistake or underestimate them, Senegal will make them pay but they will miss Idrissa Gana Gueye in midfield for this game as he’s suspended. There are also a few other injury issues for Senegal to deal with as Cheikhou Kouyate has been missing after he picked up an ankle injury in the opener.


England quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Pickford
At the 2022 World Cup – Won Group B with 7 points (+7 GD)

Senegal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly
At the 2022 World Cup – Finished 2nd in Group A with 4 points (+1 GD)


World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, last 16, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

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The World Cup 2022 schedule is locked in and this tournament in Qatar has been sensational as the knockout rounds will capture the imagination of the globe.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]

Japan, Australia and Morocco made the last 16 with so many huge shocks during the tournament, while Germany, Denmark and Belgium all crashed out in the group stage.

From the USMNT and England getting out of their group to Lionel Messi dragging Argentina through and Mexico just missing out on getting out of the group stages and amid upsets galore, there are plenty of intriguing games in the latter stages.

[ MORE: World Cup rosters for all 32 teams ]

We now have the small matter of the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final to look forward to. Bring. It. On.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Below is the schedule in full, details on how to watch the games and everything else you need..

[ MORE: World Cup odds ]


World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Knockout round kick-off times: 10am, 2pm (both ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H | Full tables


Round of 16 schedule

Match 49 – Saturday, December 3: Netherlands 3-1 USA – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 50 – Saturday, December 3: Argentina 2-1 Australia – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 52 – Sunday, December 4: France 3-1 Poland – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

Match 51 – Sunday, December 4: England vs Senegal (preview) – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Match 53 – Monday, December 5: Japan vs Croatia (preview) – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am

Match 54 – Monday, December 5: Brazil vs South Korea – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Match 55 – Tuesday, December 6: Morocco vs Spain – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 56 – Tuesday, December 6: Portugal vs Switzerland – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm


Quarterfinal schedule

Match 58 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 53 vs Winners Match 54 – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 57 – Friday, December 9: Netherlands vs Argentina – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Match 60 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 55 vs Winners Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 59 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 51 vs France – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Semifinal schedule

Match 61 – Tuesday, December 13: Winners Match 57 vs Winners Match 58 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Match 62 – Wednesday, December 14: Winners Match 59 vs Winners Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Third-place play-off

Match 63 – Saturday, December 17: Losers Match 61 vs Losers Match 62 – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm


Final

Match 64 – Sunday, December 18: Winners Match 61 vs Winners Match 62 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am


Group stage results

Group A

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands  – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 2-0 Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Group B

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-3 England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Iran 0-1 USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group C

Recap/highlights: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Mexico 0-0 Poland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Argentina 2-0 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Poland 0-2 Argentina – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

Group D

Recap/highlights: France 4-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Denmark 0-0 Tunisia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: France 2-1 Denmark – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 0-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 1-0 France –  Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Australia 1-0 Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Group E

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Spain 1-1 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Japan 2-1 Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Costa Rica 2-4 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Group F

Recap/highlights: Belgium 1-0 Canada – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Belgium 0-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Croatia 4-1 Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Croatia 0-0 Belgium – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights Canada 1-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group G

Recap/highlights: Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Brazil 1-0 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 11am
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 3-3 Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 1-0 Brazil – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Serbia 2-3 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha

Group H

Recap/highlights: Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Portugal 2-0 Uruguay – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-1 Portugal – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Ghana 0-2 Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah


Top goalscorers at the 2022 World Cup: Updated rankings for the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup features 32 nations competing in soccer’s biggest event in Qatar, the first World Cup ever held in the Middle East. This year marks the final edition of the tournament with a 32-nation field – that number is set to increase to 48 for the 2026 World Cup, which will have venues across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

This year’s Copa Mundial looks different for several reasons, including the dates (due to Qatar’s intense summer heat, the schedule was shifted to November-December instead of its traditional summer timing). But as always, the event features the world’s top fútbol nations vying for global glory as well as individual awards for top performers, including the coveted prize for attacking players: the Golden Boot.

At the last iteration of the World Cup, England’s Harry Kane, also a star for Premier League side Tottenham, took home the award thanks to his six goals, which likely helped soften the blow of the Three Lions falling 2-0 to Belgium in the third-place match. One of the top storylines to watch at this year’s World Cup is the swan song for two of the game’s biggest stars: Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo. Neither player has ever won the Golden Boot, and neither of their teams has won the World Cup during their tenures. Defending champions France will likely field some contenders for the award, including Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud. For more on the latest Golden Boot standings, odds and predictions throughout the tournament, follow along with ProSoccerTalk and NBC Sports Edge.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 schedule – groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates


What is the Golden Boot?

The Golden Boot is the award given to the top goal-scorer at each edition of the World Cup. If at the conclusion of the tournament two or more players are tied at the top of the list with the same number of goals, the award will go to the player with the most non-penalty goals, and if they are still tied, it will go to the player with the most assists. While there has always been a top goal-scorer at the tournament, the specific award has been given since 1982. It was known as “The Golden Show” until its re-christening in 2010.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites?

Who are the top scorers at 2022 World Cup?

1. Kylian Mbappe (France) – 5
2. Enner Valencia (Ecuador) – 3
3. Cody Gakpo (Netherlands) – 3
4. Marcus Rashford (England) – 3
5. Alvaro Morata (Spain) – 3
6. Lionel Messi (Argentina) – 3
7. Olivier Giroud (France) – 3
8. Richarlison (Brazil) – 2
9. Bukayo Saka (England) – 2
10. Ferran Torres (Spain) – 2
11. Andrej Kramaric (Croatia) – 2
12. Mehdi Taremi (Iran) – 2
13. Bruno Fernandes (Portugal) – 2
14. Mohammed Kudus (Ghana) – 2
15. Cho Gue-Sung (South Korea) – 2
16. Breel Embolo (Switzerland) – 2
17. Salem Al Dawsari (Saudi Arabia) – 2
18. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia) – 2
19. Kai Havertz (Germany) – 2
20. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon) – 2
21. Niclas Fullkrug (Germany) – 2
22. Ritsu Doan (Japan) – 2
23. Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Uruguay) – 2
24. Julian Alvarez (Argentina) – 2
25. Robert Lewandowski (Poland) – 2

World Cup top scorers
Getty Images

All past Golden Boot winners (1982-2018)

1982: Paolo Rossi (ITA) – 6

1986: Gary Lineker (GBR) – 6

1990: Salvatore Schillaci – 6

1994: Oleg Salenko (RUS) / Hristo Stoichkov (BUL) – 6

1998: Davor Suker (CRO) – 6

2002: Ronaldo (BRA) – 8

2006 – Miroslav Klose (GER) – 5

2010 – Thomas Muller (GER) – 5

2014 – James Rodriguez (COL) – 6

2018 – Harry Kane (GBR) – 6


When is the 2022 World Cup?

The World Cup begins Sunday, November 20th with host nation Qatar taking on Ecuador in the opener. The group stage runs through December 3rd before the knockout rounds begin. The final is set to take place on Sunday, December 18th.

RELATED: USMNT squad confirmed for 2022 World Cup

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!

Mbappe, Giroud propel France to World Cup quarterfinals

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France beat Poland to reach the World Cup quarterfinals as the reigning champs eased to victory against a stubborn Polish side.

FULL MATCH REPLAY

Olivier Giroud became France’s all-time leading goalscorer as he finished superbly just before half time to net his 52nd goal for Les Bleus.

Kylian Mbappe then finished off Poland late on with two fine finishes, as he broke Pele’s record as the top goalscorer in World Cup history (9 goals) under the age of 24.

Robert Lewandowski scored a retaken penalty kick in stoppage time to move to joint-ninth in the all-time leading goalscorers list in the history of the men’s game.

Poland put in probably their best display of the tournament as they had big chances in the first half but Didier Deschamps’ France held firm and their star forwards made the difference.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

France will now play the winner of England against Senegal in the World Cup last eight.


Mbappe, Giroud set records but France look far from invincible

The duo of Mbappe (16 goals in his last 14 games for France) and Giroud (3 goals this tournament) works superbly and they are totally different players and feed off each other so well. With Griezmann and Dembele also purring in attack, this is a dangerous France side. But they did show a few weaknesses in this win against Poland. In the first half they were exposed with balls being cut back from the byline and defensively they looked a little sluggish and Hugo Lloris was a little nervy. France will now face tougher tests in the latter stages of the tournament and although they have incredible quality, they look a little top-heavy.


Stars of the show

Kylian Mbappe: Scored two superb goals and grabbed an assist and his pace on the counter gave Poland problems galore. The scary thing about Mbappe is that he seems to keep on improving and can get even better.

Antoine Griezmann: Brilliant movement and crosses as he continues to find space in this free role. He’s having a bit of a resurgence after a quiet few years at Atletico Madrid.

France vs Poland
Graphic via FotMob.com

How to watch France vs Poland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Sunday (December 4)
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Olivier Giroud slides in at the back post but he can’t convert and the offside flag goes up. Looks like Ousmane Dembele was offside but that’s a big chance wasted for France.


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For France, the group stage was a bit of a mixed bag results-wise, but the quality of performances was undeniable. Les Bleus hammered Australia, the eventual Group D runners-up, 4-1 in the opener, followed by a 2-1 victory over Denmark in game no. 2 and a surprising 1-0 defeat to Tunisia with next to nothing to play for in the finale. After losing Karim Benzema to injury during training just two weeks ago, on top of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba going down long before the tournament began, Mbappe (3 goals, 1 assist) and Griezmann (1 assist) shouldered the load in the group stage. 22-year-old midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni was the only player to start all three group games, as Didier Deschamps gives the Real Madrid star a crash course in World Cup football.

Despite having Robert Lewandowski, one of the best strikers of his generation, Poland managed just two goals during the group stage — both in the same game, their only win, against Saudi Arabia. On the flip side, keeping two clean sheets (also against Mexico) proved the difference in elimination and advancement. Poland are one of four sides (Australia, Morocco and Japan being the others) to have held less than 40 percent of possession and make it through to the knockout rounds.


France quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann

Poland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 38
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from AFC via the intercontinental playoffs
Coach: Graham Arnold
Key players: Mathew Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie

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