The final round of World Cup qualifying takes place this weekend, with seven countries (of 32 in total) already assured of their places alongside hosts Russia at next summer's tournament. Five times winners Brazil (South America) have qualified as have Belgium (Europe), Mexico (CONCACAF), and Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea (all Asia).
The numbers of teams to qualify from the six FIFA Confederations for Russia 2018 breaksdown as follows:
Europe (UEFA) - 14 teams in total, including hosts Russia. The winners of the nine European groups automatically qualify plus eight second placed teams that playoff each other (four more teams).
Africa (CAF) - 5 teams
Asia (AFC) - 4 teams (plus a playoff team)
South America (CONMEBOL) - 4 teams (plus a playoff team)
CONCACAF - 3 teams (plus a playoff team)
Oceania (OFC) - playoff team.
In the final analysis 30 teams, including the hosts Russia, qualify directly from the six Confederations while two teams qualify from the playoffs of four Confederation teams.
All sounds pretty simple to me. Now try figure how this will all work in 2026 when the number of teams is increased to 48 teams....... [top]
The MLS Cup Playoffs run from October 26 through the final on December 10 with twelve clubs taking part - the top six teams of the Eastern Conference and the top six teams of the and Western Conference.
Eastern Conference: 1) NY Red Bulls 2) NYFC 3) Toronto 4) DC Utd, 5) Montreal 6) Philadelphia
Western Conference: 1) Dallas 2) Colorado 3) Los Angeles 4) Seattle 5) Kansas 6) Salt Lake
One-Game Knockout Round October 26 and 27:
Eastern Conference: Toronto 3-1 Philadelphia and DC Utd 2-4 Montreal
Western Conference: Los Angeles 3-1 Salt Lake and Seattle 1-0 Kansas
Conference Semifinals 1st leg Sunday October 30 - all home teams won
Eastern 1st Legs: Montreal 1-0 NY Red Bulls and Toronto 2-0 NYCFC
Western 1st Legs: Los Angeles 1-0 Colorado and Seattle 3-0 Dallas
Conference Semifinals 2nd leg on Sunday November 6
Eastern 2nd legs: NY Red Bull v Montreal and NYCFC v Toronto
Western 2nd Legs: Colorado v Los Angeles and Dallas v Seattle
There must be a winner in each game so lookout for the possibility of extra time and pks...
The two-legged Conference Finals will take place the weekends of November 19/20 and November 26/27 with the Final on Saturday December 10 at the venue of the highest placed team in the season’s standings.
All games on either ESPN / ESPN Deportes and Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes (MLS Live, Fox Soccer 2 Go).
Portland won MLS Cup in 2015 but did not qualify for the playoffs this year. Previous winners of MLS Cup in this year’s playoffs include Los Angeles (5), DC Utd (4) and Salt Lake and Colorado (1). [top]
Bob Bradley's second game in the Premier League is at home on Saturday against Watford. Swansea's fans will get their first look at Bradley at Liberty Stadium placed 19th in the table with just four points from eight games (10am ET - CNBC & NBC Live Extra).
A disappointing 2-3 loss to Arsenal last week saw the Swans at their worst as all three goals resulted from poor defending. [top]
The Women’s World Cup was first played in 1991 and was hosted by China where USA beat Norway 2-1. The 2015 tournament hosted by Canada is the seventh in the series which has been won by four nations: 2 - US (’91&’99), Germany (’03&’07) and once each by Norway (’95) current holders, Japan in 2011.
Fox will this year significantly increase the coverage of the tournament by covering all 52 games live in English. US games will also air on Sirius Satellite Radio with the radio feed coming directly from the TV. At the same time NBC / Telemundo will cover all games in Spanish.
The tournament will be held at six locations across Canada with all games being played on artificial grass:
1) Vancouver - BC Place ( 54,500 capacity)
2) Edmonton – Commonwealth Stadium (56,300)
3) Winnipeg – Winnipeg Stadium (33,422)
4) Ottawa – Landsdowne Stadium (40,000?)
5) Montreal - Olympic Stadium (61,000)
6) Moncton - Moncton Stadium (21,000)
The final will be played on Sunday July 5 in Vancouver.
The 24 teams who qualified from FIFA’s six Confederations will be organized into six groups of four where each team will play the other teams in the group.
Group A: Canada, China, New Zealand, Holland
Group B: Germany, Ivory Coast, Norway, Thailand
Group C: Japan, Cameroon, Switzerland, Ecuador
Group D: US, Sweden, Australia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, South Korea, Spain Costa Rica
Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico
The top two teams from reach Group will progress to the knockout round of 16, at which point the tournament is bracketed.
All 52 games will air live on TV in English and Spanish. Fox Sports will air 16 (!) games on the Fox Network while the remaining games will be shown on Fox Sports 1 & Fox Sports 2. Telemundo plans to air ten (10) games while NBC Universo will show 21, while the rest will be streamed on NBC Deportes' En Vivo Extra. The Hispanic outlets will clearly be tracking Mexico as well as Colombia and Ecuador.
All games will be available on tablets and mobile devices via the Fox Sports Go app and online at FoxSportsGO.com. All games will be live streamed at FoxSoccer2Go.com/.
Upfront in the studio in Vancouver will be Kate Abdo and Rob Stone. Studio analysts during the tournament will include Alexi Lalas, Heather Mitts, Eric Wynalda, Leslie Osborne, Angela Hucles, Kelly Smith, Ariane Hingst, Monica Gonzalez, Christine Latham. Dr. Joe Machnik will likely be kept busy monitoring the officials with the whistles and flags.
Play by player announcers currently fall into five groups: 1) Glenn Davis & Christine Latham 2) JP Dellacamera, Cat Whitehill & Tony DiCicco 3) Jenn Hildreth & Kyndra de St. Aubin 4) Justin Kutcher & Aly Wagner and 5) John Strong & Danielle Slaton.
The threesome of JP Dellacamera, Cat Whitehill & Tony DiCicco look to be the group with the most experience of commentating on women’s international soccer.
Don’t expect FIFA’s Sepp Blatter to show up and make the Cup and medal presentation at the end of the tournament! [top] [top]
From Kansas City's Sporting Park. Semifinals tonight on ESPNU (ESPN3 as well, maybe?). Syracuse v Clemson at 6pm ET and Stanford v Akron at 8.30pm. Final 2pm Sunday. Last weekend of the Bundesliga before the Christmas break. [top]