Soccer

U.S. men's soccer rebounds strong after shaky start

ap242521606862.jpg

U.S. men's soccer rebounds strong after shaky start

By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Clint Dempsey had a pair of goals and assisted on Carlos Bocanegra's equalizer, and the United States rallied to beat Guatemala 3-1 Tuesday night and reached next year's final round of World Cup qualifying.

Facing their first elimination game in qualifying since 2000, the Americans needed merely a draw to advance to the six-team finals in North and Central America and the Caribbean. After Carlos Ruiz put Guatemala ahead in the fifth minute, Dempsey set up Bocanegra's goal in the 10th minute, then scored in the 18th and 36th. With 30 international goals, Dempsey tied Brian McBride for third-most in American history.

The U.S. (4-1-1), seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, topped its semifinal group with 13 points.

Guatemala, which has never appeared in a World Cup, was eliminated when Dane Richards scored two goals late in the second half in Jamaica's 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda. Guatemala and Jamaica were both 3-2-1 for 10 points apiece, but the Reggae Boyz overtook Guatemala on goal difference, plus-3 to plus-1.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said before the game that "you can only win a game if you attack and go forward, and that's what we're going to do. We're not going to look for a tie."

That certainly held true.

The Americans were the more the aggressive team its German coach has been trying to develop and less like the side that struggled over a muddy cricket pitch to a 2-1 victory over Antigua on Friday -- an outcome that took most of the pressure off Tuesday night's game.

Still, Los Chapines caused tension when they scored in the opening minutes.

Jose Contreras took possession in the midfield and sent a looping pass ahead to Ruiz, who managed to beat Bocanegra to the ball as Geoff Cameron was caught upfield. Bocanegra joined Cameron at center back while Michael Parkhurst took over on the left and Clarence Goodson was benched in the only American lineup changes from Friday.

Ruiz rounded goalkeeper Tim Howard and side-footed the ball into the goal. As if a harbinger of things to come, Ruiz appeared to hurt himself seconds after scoring.

He reached out to steady himself on the electronic signage near the field, and may have sliced his hand. He grimaced and immediately began shaking it while a trainer rushed out to tend to him.

The tying goal came just a few minutes later.

Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi, playing in his home stadium, sent a corner kick arcing into the penalty area, and Dempsey got just enough of it to redirect to Bocanegra, who was left alone by Manuel Leon near the far post and easily found the back of the net.

It was Bocanegra's 14th goal with the national team, moving him past Marcelo Balboa for the most among American defenders. It also generated a roar from a sellout crowd of 16,947 that would have been much larger if officials could have sold standing-room tickets.

Ruiz nearly had his second goal in the 18th minute when his header went over the crossbar, and the Americans quickly came back on the counter. The ball was pushed ahead to Eddie Johnson on the wing, and he found Dempsey cutting to the net ahead of defender Jonathan Lopez.

Dempsey deftly scored over the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez for a 2-1 lead, while Johnson picked up an assist to go with the two goals he scored against Antigua in his first international appearance in two years.

Guatemala had a couple of other good scoring chances later in the half, including a shot by Contreras from a sharp angle that Howard knocked away, and a breakaway on which Ruiz was called for a foul on American defender Steve Cherundolo near the top of the penalty box.

Cherundolo tried to shake hands with Ruiz, who was having none of it.

The U.S. pressure paid off again in the 36th minute, when Michael Bradley popped a pass over the sprawled-out Jerez and Dempsey tapped the ball across. Dempsey nearly had a hat-trick when he just missed on a header early in the second half, and then picked up a yellow card for diving in second-half stoppage time.

The Reggae Boyz needed to make up a three-goal differential on Guatemala in a victory. Richards' goals in the 78th and 88th minutes in Kingston, Jamaica, allowed them to advance.

Also advancing to the six-team finals are Mexico, Honduras and Panama, while Costa Rica and El Salvador played late games for the final spot in the hexagonal.

NOTES: The finals start March 22. ... The Americans likely will play an exhibition at Russia on Nov. 14 in their final game this year.

2018 World Cup: Group Stage results, scores, TV Schedule, and how to watch

world_cup_flags_usat.png
USA Today Sports

2018 World Cup: Group Stage results, scores, 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, results, scores

Group A Teams: Russia (70), Egypt (45), Saudi Arabia (67), Uruguay (14)
Group A Schedule:
June 14: 
Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0
June 15: Uruguay 1, Egypt 0
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), Morocco (41), Portugal (4), Spain (10)
Group B Schedule:
June 15: 
Iran 1, Morocco 0
June 15: Spain 3, Portugal 3
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 2, Australia 1
June 16: Denmark 1, Peru 0
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 1, Iceland 1
June 16: Croatia 2, Nigeria 0
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: 
Serbia 1, Costa Rica 0
June 17: Brazil 1, Switzerland 1
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: 
Mexico 1, Germany 0
June 18: Sweden 1, Korea Republic 0
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 3, Panama 0
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, RESULTS, SCORES:

Thursday, June 14: 
Russia 5, Saudi Arabia 0 (Group A)

 Friday, June 15: 
Uruguay 1, Egypt 0 (Group A)
Iran 1, Morocco 0 (Group B)
Portugal 3, Spain 3 (Group B)

Saturday. June 16: 
France 2, Australia 1 (Group C)
Argentina 1, Iceland 1 (Group D)
Denmark 1, Peru 0 (Group C)
Croatia 2, Nigeria 0 (Group D)

Sunday, June 17:
Serbia 1, Costa Rica 0(Group E)
Mexico 1, Germany 0 (Group F)
Brazil 1, Switzerland 1 (Group E)

Monday, June 18:
Sweden 1, Korea Republic 0 (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

worldcup-trophy-ap.png
AP Images

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.