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As it happened: The 2018 World Cup draw

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With the 2018 World Cup draw taking place in Moscow on Friday, we will guide you through all of the news, reaction and analysis as the 32 teams are drawn into eight groups.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Below you will find our running live blog of witty banter, wistful USMNT chat and, most importantly, the group stage draw as it happened in Russia.

Join myself, Joe Prince-Wright, and Nick Mendola (NM).


11:05 a.m. ET: That’s a wrap for the World Cup draw. Thanks for joining us! Here you can find more details on the groups, plus the full schedule for the tournament and more. Just over six months to go.


11 a.m. ET: Some reaction coming through via BBC in Moscow at the draw. Belgium’s coach Roberto Martinez reacts to drawing England.

“I lived for 21 years in England so it is very special. It’s the World Cup, we have a challenging draw, lots of travelling. We are looking forward to it. We have a really good group of players, 25 players are now in the British game so are very well known. They have important roles in important teams and they enjoy playing for their country,” Martinez said.

On the opposite side, England boss Gareth Southgate summed up what the World Cup draw was like for a manager who also represented the Three Lions in his playing career.

 “There’s a bit of travelling, but having the six-day break between games might help any injuries clear up. You’re always grateful for as much prep as possible. Travel wise, the way tournaments are now you’ve got to be adaptable, but our kick-off times are decent as well,” Southgate said.

“It’s been great today to mix with more experienced coaches. It’s nice to have a fresh challenge. When you’re trying to qualify, you don’t think about days like today but that’s the beauty of the World Cup. When you look at old videos and goals it takes you back to the pureness of football. Now, the country knows what’s coming and they can get excited. I was proud to play for my country, and to lead my country is beyond that. I’m really looking forward to it.”


10:57 a.m. ET: So that does it! Here are your groups

Lots to break down, and we’ll be doing it over the next few hours, but England and Russia will appreciate their draws while Mexico has plenty of work to do with Germany, South Korea, and Sweden.

If Portugal and Argentina win their groups or both finish second, there’s a potential quarterfinal date between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. – NM


10:51 a.m. ET: Russia is going to love the draw it demanded the totally random draw that dropped Saudi Arabia, untested Egypt, and Uruguay in its group. Totally random. Toe-tull-ee. – NM


10:48 a.m. ET: This just in — Iran hates its life. It’ll get to watch its men play Portugal and Spain. One more team could will be named here. -NM


10:45 a.m ET: Lovely, lovely stuff. We are rocking and rolling and here’s how things look after two teams are drawn out for each group.

Groups B, D and F look particularly tasty…

Group A: Russia, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain
Group C: France, Denmark, Peru
Group D: Argentina, Croatia
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland
Group F: Germany, Mexico
Group G: Belgium, England
Group H: Poland, Colombia


10:39 a.m. ET: Wow, here we go. Things are getting very lively in Moscow!

Uruguay are drawn with the hosts Russia in Group A, while Spain join their Iberian neighbors Portugal in Group B and they play one another in the opening group game. Mexico have Germany. England have Belgium. Argentina and Croatia are also paired up.


10:36 a.m. ET: The top seeds have all be drawn into groups now. Here’s how it stands:


10:32 a.m. ET: Russia have been drawn as A1! We knew that already, but we have a ball out of the glass bowl. I repeat. We have tiny bits of paper being unscrewed.


10:30 a.m. ET: Bang on schedule, Lineker and Komandnaya appear on stage and the glass bowls are full of plastic balls and we just minutes away here folks. Here we go!


10:26 a.m. ET: Here we go! The draw is starting (finally) and we have a Diego Maradona sighting! He’s out, along with other legendary players from World Cup winning teams in the past. Cafu, Laurent Blanc, Gordon Banks, Diego Forlan, Carlos Puyol and Co. are led out by individuals dressed as, well, sort of Christmas decorations shaped like cones. Seriously.


10:24 a.m. ET: We are now treated to a montage of legendary clips from World Cups gone by. Pele. Eusebio. Maradona. Messi. Ronaldo. Baggio. My word. Lump in the throat moment.


10:20 a.m. ET: To give you an update on what’s going on from the Kremlin, we have yet to see the glass bowls and plastic balls. We now have a Russian folk dance on stage to entertain us. Lovely stuff.


10:16 a.m. ET: Miroslav Klose appears on the stage holding the World Cup trophy. With 16 goals, he’s the all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history. He seems delighted to be there.


10:12 a.m. ET: For the nerds out there (that includes me) Group B seems to be the one everyone wants to be drawn in. Why? Well, that’s because there isn’t much travel involved for the group games. Come onnnn Group B!


10:07 a.m. ET: More from Putin at the Kremlin –  “Visitors can learn more about Russian culture, and experience our hospitality which is traditional. We know how to host our friends.” He also says that it will be a “major sporting festival” and promises “friendship” and “fair play.”


10:03 a.m. ET: We are off and running for the draw as Russia’s president Vladimir Putin gives a speech to introduce the event. Only a small microphone glitch…


9:50 a.m. ET: Another handy reminder here of the four pots for the draw.


9:40 a.m. ET: ICYMI, former England international Gary Lineker (now a host with the BBC and BT Sport in the UK) will be joined by Russian journalist Maria Komandnaya to host the event.

Not long now!


9:35 a.m. ET: If I could, I suggest you get ready for the draw by looking through our World Cup draw roundtable as our writers discussed the key topics including “Group(s) of Death” scenarios, the dark horses and more. We had a lot of fun. Way too much anti-England banter flying around for my liking though…


9:33 a.m. ET: And “how does this work?” is probably your next question. Right. Stay with me here. Here’s an explainer:

One team will be drawn from each pot to make up the eight groups of four teams. No nations from the same confederations can be drawn with one another in the group stage but there is one exception: two teams from the UEFA (Europe) region can be drawn in the same group.

We all good here? If not, here’s a more detailed look at how the draw will work.


9:30 a.m. ET: “Who is actually in this thing?” Ah, yes, that’s a good question. Here’s a look at the four pots with host Russia in Pot 1 alongside the top seven ranked teams from FIFA’s world rankings in October, then the next eight highest-ranked teams in Pot 2, then the eight highest after them in Pot 3 and the lowest-ranked eight teams in Pot 4.

Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia


9:28 a.m. ET: Good morning! This is it. Don’t get scared now. For U.S. national teams fans today is one of those days where the reality of the situation settles in. For the first time since 1986, the U.S. will not be at the World Cup and therefore there will be no “United States” on a piece of paper inside one of those little plastic balls which seem ridiculously tough to unscrew.

To get you ready for the World Cup draw, let’s hope that we get some comedy moments like this from the draw for the 1994 World Cup as Robin Williams met Sepp Blatter. I have a feeling the draw on Friday in Moscow may be a little more subdued than this, but what a legendary performance from Williams.

Mourinho bemoans ‘very bad’ preseason for Man United

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MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described the team’s preseason as “very bad” because of the disruption caused by the World Cup and the absence of Alexis Sanchez for the tour of the United States.

Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jones will not return to training with United until close to the start of the new season because their countries got to the semifinals of the World Cup in Russia.

Sanchez wasn’t among the United squad heading across the Atlantic because there was an issue with his visa after the Chile forward accepted a 16-month suspended sentence in Spain over a tax issue.

Mourinho said “preseason is very bad, I have to say that,” adding that “I am worried because I am not training with all my players.”

On Sanchez, Mourinho said “he’s very sad, it’s not good for him or me, not good for anyone. There is no one to blame — the club is making an effort. I have to respect the U.S. authorities in their process of selection of visas. I hope he will come to join us.”

Mourinho said he is set to start the season with Sanchez, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial as his strike force.

United flew to Los Angeles on Sunday and will play five games, including three International Champions Cup matches against Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool, during its stay.

United plays its first English Premier League game of the season on Aug. 10 against Leicester at Old Trafford.

WATCH LIVE: U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals Wed. night

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The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open is back, with all four quarterfinal matchups set for Wednesday night.

[ MORE: USWNT names veteran team for Tournament of Nations ]

It’s a mixed bag of haves and have-nots from the 2018 MLS regular season still alive in the competition. Current holders Sporting Kansas City are still alive and have been drawn away to the Houston Dynamo (8:30 p.m. ET), in something of a grudge match for Houston after coughing up a 2-0 lead and losing to Sporting KC 3-2 last month.

Los Angeles FC host Portland Timbers (10:30 p.m. ET) in a rematch of Sunday’s league clash at Banc of California Stadium (a 0-0 draw). Philadelphia Union and Orlando City SC open the night’s action at Talen Energy Stadium (7 p.m. ET), followed by Chicago Fire taking on the only remaining lower-division team still in the competition, Louisville City (7:30 p.m. ET).

All games will be streamed live on ussoccer.com, direct links below.

STREAMS

Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC — WATCH
Chicago Fire vs. Louisville City — WATCH
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City — WATCH
Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers — WATCH

Miami City Commission sends Beckham stadium to Nov. ballot

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David Beckham and his business partners, the Mas brothers, are one top closer to securing the stadium deal required to bring an MLS expansion franchise to the city of Miami — maybe, but also maybe not.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba wants Juve move, Grealish to Spurs? ]

The Miami City Commission voted on Wednesday to place a referendum on the November ballot, paving the way for Beckham and Co.’s privately-funded complex on city land currently occupied by a golf course. The final vote tally was 3-2 in favor of sending the issue to ballot. A previous Commission session was conducted, and ended, last week without a final vote taking place as the fifth and final member had yet to make up his mind.

Beckham and partners used the last week, between Commission meetings, to put a full-court press on Miami’s general public, local media and the last remaining member of the Commission.

[ MORE: PHOTOS: 2018-19 Premier League jerseys ]

The key, and most contentious, part of the proposal is (at least) $35 million worth of toxic waste which must be removed from the site. That number could very easily double or triple once clean-up begins, and Beckham’s group would be on the hook for the total cost.

The proposed stadium would seat roughly 25,000 fans and would be just one part of the 58-acre park which will also include retail, restaurants and hotels.

Sarri hopes to convince Hazard, Courtois in face-to-face meeting

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The coming days and weeks will be immensely tense times for players, coaches, directors and fans of Chelsea alike — but, for no one more so than new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri, who faces the very real prospect of losing arguably his two best players before managing his first game at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba wants Juve move, Grealish to Spurs? ]

Forward Eden Hazard has made it pretty clear he’d prefer a move to his yet-unnamed “preferred destination,” and goalkeeper Thibut Courtois has said he’d like to continue playing with Hazard, either in west London or elsewhere. Sarri hopes he’ll have a chance to persuade the Belgian duo to stay another year, or longer, but he doesn’t plan on doing so until they return from their offseason breaks, at which point he can meet with them face to face — quotes from the Guardian:

“Clearly the players you are referring to are very high-level players and I would like to keep them. But a telephone call without looking them in the eye will not give me any certainty.

“I would like to meet these players face to face and talk to them and understand what the best thing is for everyone to do. Before that I would also like a player to come on the pitch for four or five days with me to have a clear idea of what the plan is.”

Given that the Premier League’s transfer window will close before the upcoming season’s opening weekend (Aug. 9), the period of time during which Hazard and Courtois will be available to meet with Sarri, and the amount of time to reinvest and replenish the squad should they leave, will be an extremely narrow window. After finishing third-place at the 2018 World Cup, they could very easily be away until the final 48 or 72 hours of the window.