Soccer

D.C. United wants to be more than opening act

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D.C. United wants to be more than opening act

It doesnt matter that perhaps more than any other MLS franchise D.C. United can appreciate the hard work needed to secure a new stadium. Uniteds goal is to spoil to party and grab three points Saturday in Houston against the Dynamo in the first-ever game at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Its brilliant for the team in orange that it joins now a long list of American professional soccer teams with their own stadium. By all accounts from its location downtown to its layout on the inside, 22,000- seat BBVA Compass Stadium is destined to be a winner. The fanfare surrounding its opening will only add to Uniteds challenge.

In six trips to Houston the Black and Red have never won. Over the years players have changed for the Dynamo, but the head coach Dominic Kinnear has maintained a remarkable consistency. It is a team that won MLS Cups with Dwayne De Rosario and was still competing for one last November without him.

De Rosario is now the central figure both in position and in leadership for United. De Rosario scored 16 goals to win Golden Boot and MVP last year and helped put United back in the conversation for playoffs. With a league-leading 7 assists, De Rosario has helped United to within three points of first place Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference.

Winning against former teams has become something of a specialty for De Rosario. That trend was interrupted ten days ago in a 5-3 loss to the Earthquakes against San Jose. It then made Uniteds response against Toronto FC, another former De Rosario club, even more impressive.

United blanked Toronto FC 2-0.

We were not happy with the five goals we gave up in San Jose and even the two we gave up against Houston the game before that, said Uniteds Chris Pontius. We went in there with a mindset that we were going to get a shutout no matter what and then we would let the offense take care of itself.

Pontius was right. He opened the scoring against Toronto with a left-footed rocket in the 55th minute. Pontius goal broke a scoreless tie against a desperate winless team. With a midweek game and a nightmarish travel experience getting from San Jose to Toronto, this was a trap game for United. They survived and did so with a make shift back line.

Defense will again be a focal point for United. Central defenders Dejan Jakovic and Emiliano Dudar are making progress in their recovery from injuries, but are not expected to be involved on Saturday. Robbie Russell is expected back from a one-game absence because of a hamstring injury and he could slot in the middle next to Brandon McDonald.

With Russells return, Daniel Woolard could switch back from central defense to outside back on the left. Andy Najar might again be the first choice option at right back. That would allow former Dynamo player Danny Cruz to remain in the starting eleven in midfield where he has been for seven of the last eight games.

Najar has excelled in his brief time in the position, although it has now been revealed he played right back for D.C Uniteds academy team. In fact, Najar never actually played his current position until he joined Uniteds senior team. Najars ability to defend and yet go forward adds to an attack that is gaining in confidence and goals.

D.C. United comes into Saturdays game having scored 20 goals through 11 games. With one more tally, the club will match its 2010 goal total, when the team scored 21 goals in 30 games. At the moment, the Black-and-Red are on pace to beat the 2011 mark of 49 goals in 34 games and it all seems to start with leading scorer Maicon Santos.

First and foremost Maicon is giving us a real presence that certainly we lacked last year and the first couple of games this year, said veteran forward Josh Wolff. He has given us a point of reference to play off of and hold balls. Whether it is Pontius or Hamdi (Salihi) with him, it allows those guys to get turned and face goal a bit more. It is big part of the reason we are having success

Head coach Ben Olsen does have options among the front five in Uniteds attack. Rookie Nick De Leon was given a break against Toronto FC, but he has proven himself to be more than capable at left flank. Pontius can play up top or on the flank and now Salihi looks confident after netting two goals in only 50 minutes of playing time last week.

Were starting to see what he (Salihi) is all about, Olsen said. He doesnt need many opportunities to score goals. Forwards are streaky and they go through runs. Theyre human; they go through confidence issues. He wants more. He wants to play more, and I dont blame him.

Though United scored three goals in their victory over the Dynamo two weeks ago at R.F.K. Stadium, chances are likely to limited. The Dynamo is a disciplined team that has survived playing its first seven games on the road while BBVA Compass Stadium was completed and sill managed 8 points and a record of 2-3-2.

The Dynamo lost on Wednesday 1-0 to the Red Bulls. Midfielder Brad Davis is back from a calf strain injury that reduced to a substitutes role in the 3-2, loss to United. Operating from the left flank Davis is still the trigger point for the Dynamo offense and he is particularly dangerous on set pieces.

2018 World Cup: Group information, TV Schedule, and how to watch

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USA Today Sports

2018 World Cup: Group information, TV Schedule, and how to watch

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia begins Thursday, with group stage play until the knockout round begins June 27.

Although the United States Men's National Team did not qualify, the field is set for an unpredictable tournament featuring the best soccer players in the World. 

Brazil, Germany and Spain — as they seem to always be — are the favorites to win the 2018 World Cup. Before they can get there, though, they'll have to advance out of the group stage.

The 2018 World Cup airs on FOX and FS1. You can stream World Cup games online with Fox Sports Go and the Fox Sports Go app.

Here's everything you need to know about the group stage fixtures.

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP HOW TO WATCH: 

GROUP STAGE TELEVISION SCHEDULE

Group A schedule, teams, standings

Group A Teams: Russia (70), Egypt (45), Saudi Arabia (67), Uruguay (14)
Group A Schedule:
June 14: 
Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0
June 15: Egypt vs. Uruguay. 8:00 a.m. FS1
June 19: Russia vs. Egypt. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 20: Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia. 11:00 a.m. FOX
June 25: Uruguay vs. Russia. 10:00 a.m. FOX
June 25: Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt. 10:00 a.m. FS1

Group B schedule, teams, standings

Group B Teams: Iran (37), Morrocco (41), Portugal (4), Spain (10)
Group B Schedule:
June 15: 
Morocco vs. Iran. 11:00 a.m. FOX
June 15: Portugal vs. Spain. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 20: Portugal vs. Morocco. 8:00 a.m. FS1
June 20: Iran vs. Spain.  2:00 p.m. FOX
June 25: Spain vs. Morocco. 2:00 p.m. FS1
June 25: Iran vs. Portugal.  2:00 p.m. FOX

Group C schedule, teams, standings

Group C Teams: Australia (36), Denmark (12), France (7), Peru (11)
Group C Schedule:
June 16: 
France vs. Australia. 6:00 a.m. FS1
June 16: Peru vs. Denmark. 12:00 p.m. FS1
June 21: Denmark vs. Australia. 8:00 a.m. FS1
June 21: France vs. Peru.  11:00 a.m. FOX
June 26: Australia vs. Peru. 10:00 a.m. FS1
June 26: Denmark vs. France. 10:00 a.m. FOX

Group D schedule, teams, standings

Group D Teams: Argentina (5), Croatia (20), Iceland (22), Nigeria (48)
Group D Schedule
June 16: 
Argentina vs. Iceland 9:00 a.m. FOX
June 16: Croatia vs. Nigeria 3:00 p.m. FS1
June 21: Argentina vs. Croatia. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 22: Nigeria vs. Iceland. 11:00 a.m. FOX
June 26: Nigeria vs. Argentina. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 26: Iceland vs. Croatia. 2:00 p.m. FS1

Group E schedule, teams, standings

Group E Teams: Brazil (2), Costa Rica (23), Serbia (34), Switzerland (6)
Group E Schedule
June 17: 
Costa Rica vs. Serbia. 8:00 a.m. FOX
June 17: Brazil vs. Switzerland. 2:00 p.m. FS1
June 22: Brazil vs. Costa Rica 8:00 a.m. FS1
June 22: Serbia vs. Switzerland. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 27: Serbia vs. Brazil. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 27: Switzerland vs. Costa Rica. 2:00 p.m. FS1

Group F schedule, teams, standings

Group F Teams: Germany (1), Korea Republic (57), Mexico (15), Sweden (24)
Group F Schedule
June 17: 
Germany vs. Mexico. 11:00 a.m. FS1
June 18: Sweden vs. Korea Republic.  8:00 a.m. FS1
June 23: Korea Republic vs. Mexico.  11:00 a.m. FOX
June 23: Germany vs. Sweden.  2:00 p.m. FOX
June 27: Korea Republic vs. Germany. 10:00 a.m. FS1
June 27: Mexico vs. Sweden. 10:00 a.m. FOX

Group G schedule, teams, standings

Group G Teams: Belgium (3), England (12), Panama (55), Tunisia (21)
Group G Schedule
June 18: 
Belgium vs. Panama. 11:00 a.m. FS1
June 18: Tunisia vs. England. 2:00 p.m. FS1
June 23: Belgium vs. Tunisia. 8:00 a.m. FOX
June 24: England vs. Panama 8:00 a.m. FS1
June 28: Panama vs. Tunisia. 2:00 p.m. FS1
June 28: England vs. Belgium.  2:00 p.m. FOX

Group H schedule, teams, standings

Group H Teams: Colombia (16), Japan (61), Poland (8), Senegal (27)
Group H Schedule
June 19: 
Colombia vs. Japan. 8:00 a.m. FS1
June 19:Poland vs. Senegal. 11:00 a.m. FOX
June 24: Japan vs. Senegal. 11:00 a.m. FOX
June 24: Poland vs. Colombia. 2:00 p.m. FOX
June 28: Japan vs. Poland. 10:00 a.m. FS1
June 28: Senegal vs. Colombia. 10:00 a.m. FOX

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP SCHEDULE

Group Stage: Thursday, June 15 to Thursday, June 28
Round of 16: Saturday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 3
Quarterfinals: Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7
Semifinals: Tuesday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 11
Third Place Game: Saturday, July 14
World Cup Final: Sunday, July 15

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP GROUP STAGE SCHEDULE:

Thursday, June 14: 
Russia vs. Saudi Arabia. 11:00 a.m. FOX (Group A)

 Friday, June 15: 
Egypt vs. Uruguay. 8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group A)
Morocco vs. Iran. 11:00 a.m. FOX (Group B)
Portugal vs. Spain. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group B)

Saturday. June 16: 
France vs. Australia. 6:00 a.m. FS1 (Group C)
Argentina vs. Iceland 9:00 a.m. FOX (Group D)
Peru vs. Denmark. 12:00 p.m. FS1 (Group C)
Croatia vs. Nigeria 3:00 p.m. FS1 (Group D)

Sunday, June 17:
Costa Rica vs. Serbia. 8:00 a.m. FOX (Group E)
Germany vs. Mexico. 11:00 a.m. FS1 (Group F)
Brazil vs. Switzerland. 2:00 p.m. FS1 (Group E)

Monday, June 18:
Sweden vs. Korea Republic.  8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group F)
Belgium vs. Panama. 11:00 a.m. FS1 (Group G)
Tunisia vs. England. 2:00 p.m. FS1 (Group G)

Tuesday, June 19: 
Colombia vs. Japan. 8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group H)
Poland vs. Senegal. 11:00 a.m. FOX (Group H)
Russia vs. Egypt. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group A)

Wednesday, June 20: 
Portugal vs. Morocco. 8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group B)
Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia. 11:00 a.m. FOX (Group A)
Iran vs. Spain.  2:00 p.m. FOX (Group B) 

Thursday, June 21: 
Denmark vs. Australia. 8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group C)
France vs. Peru.  11:00 a.m. FOX (Group C)
Argentina vs. Croatia. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group D)

Friday, June 22:
Brazil vs. Costa Rica 8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group E)
Nigeria vs. Iceland. 11:00 a.m. FOX (Group D)
Serbia vs. Switzerland. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group E)

Saturday, June 23:
Belgium vs. Tunisia. 8:00 a.m. FOX (Group G)
Korea Republic vs. Mexico.  11:00 a.m. FOX (Group F)
Germany vs. Sweden.  2:00 p.m. FOX (Group F)

Sunday, June 24:
England vs. Panama 8:00 a.m. FS1 (Group G)
Japan vs. Senegal. 11:00 a.m. FOX (Group H)
Poland vs. Colombia. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group H)

Monday, June 25: 
Uruguay vs. Russia. 10:00 a.m. FOX (Group A)
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt. 10:00 a.m. FS1 (Group A)
Spain vs. Morocco. 2:00 p.m. FS1 (Group B)
Iran vs. Portugal.  2:00 p.m. FOX (Group B)

Tuesday, June 26: 
Australia vs. Peru. 10:00 a.m. FS1 (Group C)
Denmark vs. France. 10:00 a.m. FOX (Group C)
Nigeria vs. Argentina. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group D)
Iceland vs. Croatia. 2:00 p.m. FS1 (Group D)

Wednesday, June 27:
Korea Republic vs. Germany. 10:00 a.m. FS1(Group F)
Mexico vs. Sweden. 10:00 a.m. FOX (Group F)
Serbia vs. Brazil. 2:00 p.m. FOX (Group E)
Switzerland vs. Costa Rica. 2:00 p.m. FS1(Group E)

Thursday, June 28: 
Senegal vs. Colombia. 10:00 a.m. FOX  (Group H)
Japan vs. Poland. 10:00 a.m. FS1 (Group H)
Panama vs. Tunisia. 2:00 p.m. FS1 (Group G)
England vs. Belgium.  2:00 p.m. FOX (Group G)

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP LOCATIONS

Moscow: Luzhniki Stadium (81,000), Otkrythye Arena (44,9292)
Saint Petersburg: Krestovsky Stadium (66,881)
Sochi: Fisht Olympic Stadium (47,659)
Ekaterinburg: Central Stadium (35,000)
Saransk: Mordovia Arena (45,015)
Rostov-on-Don: Rostov Arena (43,702)
Kazan: Kazan Arena (41,105)
Kaliningrad: Kaliningrad Stadium (35,00)
Samara: Cosmos Arena (44,918)
Volgograd: Volgograd Arena (45,015)
Nizhny Novgorod: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium (44,899)

2018 FIFA WORLD CUP TOP-10 ODDS & NOTABLES

Brazil: 4-1
Germany: 19-4
Spain: 13-2
France: 7-1
Argentina: 9-1
Belgium: 11-1
England: 16-1
Portugal: 22-1
Uruguay: 28-1
Croatia: 35-1
Russia: 60-1
Mexico: 100-1
Iceland: 300-1
Costa Rica: 500-1
Panama: 1000-1 

North American trio beats Morocco to host 2026 World Cup

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North American trio beats Morocco to host 2026 World Cup

MOSCOW -- North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament.

The soccer showpiece will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

The vote by football federations was public, in contrast to secrecy surrounding the ballot by FIFA's elected board members for the 2018 and 2022 hosts, Russia and Qatar, in 2010.

The U.S. proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the finals, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten fixtures each. The U.S. is set to host all games from the quarterfinals onward.

An optimistic promise of delivering $14 billion in revenue helped sway voters, along with the lack of major construction work required on the 16 planned stadiums, all of which already exist.

By contrast, Morocco appeared too hazardous as a potential host when all 14 venues had to be built or renovated as part of a $16 billion investment in new infrastructure. The vote leaves Morocco reeling from a fifth failure in a World Cup hosting vote, with the continent's sole tournament coming in 2010 in South Africa.

While Morocco's combined tickets and hospitality revenue would be $1.07 billion, according to FIFA analysis, North America would generate $2 billion additional income.

Canada will host men's World Cup matches for the first time, while Mexico gets its first taste of the event since staging the entire event in 1986.

The 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium outside New York is proposed for the final. It's just miles from where federal prosecutors spearheaded an ongoing investigation into FIFA corruption. More than 40 soccer officials and businesses indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday's vote.

"FIFA was clinically dead as an organization," Infantino said, reflecting on his election in 2016. "Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and passion and with a vision for its future."

The North American victory suggests football officials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a country whose government has demonstrated its willingness to jail corrupt sports leaders through undercover investigations.

The North America bid also had to overcome concerns about the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.

The main intervention by President Donald Trump was a warning in a White House news conference, discussing the FIFA vote, that he would be "watching very closely." It was a veiled threat to withhold U.S. support from countries opposing the bid.

FIFA now has the final say on which cities are selected to host games and whether all three countries are guaranteed a place at the tournament. Victor Montagliani, the Canadian who leads CONCACAF, wants them to take three of the six qualification slots reserved for the region.

There is also a chance to send a seventh team via an inter-continental playoff. North America will host the six-team playoff tournament in November 2025 to decide the last two places in the 48-team lineup.