MLS Playoffs 2018 Semifinals

Well, playing at home wasn’t the best in the knockout round where only NYCFC advanced at home, all the other visitors came and won some in heart breaking fashion, DC United and Columbus went to Penalties to decide the game, other not so much as LAFC is out thanks to an own goal and Portland advanced over Dallas.

As for this upcoming round which begins on Sunday in the lower seed home followed by a game at the higher seeds home the following Sunday or Thursday in the case of Seattle. In the East, Columbus Crew host New York Red Bulls and NYCFC host Atlanta United. I really hope that it doesn’t end up with the two teams from New York meeting in the Conference Finals. I think that everyone should have a soft sport for the Crew one of the original teams with the threat of them moving to Austin is the team didn’t get funding for a new Stadium remember it was only last year when it was all #SavetheCrew. If I had to pick Columbus and NYCFC make it out of this round. In the West Real Salt Lake host Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers host Seattle Sounders. I’m hoping that Sporting KC and the Timbers make it to the Finals. Although the Sounders seems more likely to advance as they have been the most dominate team in the League since they joined and they have made it to the MLS Cup Finals the past two years.

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MLS Playoffs 2018

Sure the least know major American Sports League, Major League Soccer has reached the end of their regular season and are going to begin their playoffs.  MLS starts their playoffs with knockout games before the typical home and home for the next two round before the final game, scheduled for December 8.  The top six teams from both Conferences made the playoffs and the top two seeds have a bye through the knockout round. with the high seed hosting the lower seed. After this round the teams get reseeded so the top team will play the lowest seed left.

In the East: Atlanta United, Columbus Crew, DC United, NYCFC, NY Red Bulls, and Philadelphia Union are the teams that made it, and in the West: FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City have gotten in.  We will be getting a new MLS Champion this year as Toronto FC didn’t make the playoffs. The Knockout round begins on Halloween, with NYCFC hosting Philadelphia Union at Yankees Stadium and FC Dallas hosting Portland Timbers in Frisco, Texas. The next day DC United host Columbus Crew SC at Audi field and the LAFC host Real Salt Lake in LA. This is the first season from the LAFC. This is a single game and the winners we go on to play the top seeds in the Conference Semifinals, the lowest seed will play at NY Red Bulls and Sporting KC and the other winners, the higher seed will face Atlanta United and Seattle Sounders.

Some predictions for the knockout round, DC United have been lights out at home so they have the advantage, that’s the only solid pick I have. Philly played NYCFC in New York on Sunday and lost 3-1 can they bounce back before Wednesday’s game? NYCFC wins, and we have them playing Atlanta in the Semifinals and the classic oldest MLS Rivalry United/Red Bulls in the other game.  In the West, while it would be real cool to see more rivals meet up in the semifinals it seems unlikely but these are just dumb guesses let’s have Real Salt Lake beat LAFC and the Timbers beat Dallas, so we have the Real Salt Lake playing Sporting KC, and Timbers/Sounders. Although it seems more likely that Dallas will beat the Timbers and then facing Seattle.

 

World Cup and Narnia

We start off with France winning their second World Cup Title so UEFA has taken home the past 4 FIFA World Cups, the last time it was Brazil was in 2002. Now there are a bunch of nations still hoping for their first but that might change sooner than later as in 8 years the pool will expand from 32 to 48 teams. This is great for France as it will be hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2019.

I also finished up the rest of the Narnia books, the midquel (The Horse and His Boy), prequel (The Magician’s Nephew) and epilogue (The Last Battle). Now these book are all good but I read them in the release order so perhaps if you read it in the chronological order it feels like a better read. I really liked The Horse and His Boy as well as Magician’s Nephew more than the Last Battle. Sure we aren’t dealing with any of the Pensive kids/Eustace but that’s for the best. The whole creation of Narnia and learning about the Calormen and the other world surrounding Narnia. This is pretty cool to learn about. These were more interesting to me it’s like how they travel from island to island in Dawn Treader seeing new world.

Now I am not sure how these book will be made into film although they would all be very unique films, but it seems they would be difficult but with all the Comic Book movies it would be a change of pace from what normally is coming out. However, it would be really great if they just continued and kept some the same characters like Liam Neeson as Aslan and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch.

World Cup Finals

It has been a long while and there have been many spectacular matches but it is down to France and Croatia in the final with England and Belgium having a rematch in the third place game. Now this seems like an easy task from the French to claim their second cup as they are the higher ranked team 7th in the world compared to the 20th of Croatia, however they are 2 and 5 in the Elo rankings. In the third place game England will look to change the results of their last meeting when they were blanked by Belgium. The third place game is on Saturday and the final is on Sunday. Here’s hoping that France wins or Croatia takes home the cup for the first time

World Cup 2018 in Russia

The Russian World Cup is upon us and sure the United States didn’t make it in but the team needs to find a new coach and it seems likely we will get in in 2022 when the Cup is in Qatar and will co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada. This Cup they will expand the field from 32 teams to 48 teams qualifying thankfully ending the half bids where two teams from different regions have a play-in game (OFC VS CONMEBOL) (CONCAFCAF vs AFC) for two final spots. There will be 80 total matches with 10 matches in both Mexico and Canada while 60 will be in the US. In the Russian World Cup  there are pretty normal favorites Brazil, France, Germany and Spain. It already seems likely that the final teams will be from Europe or South America as they are the only confederations who have made it and won a World Cup so far. There are a couple of fresh faces in the field this year as Iceland and Panama will be making their first appearances in the World Cup. There might be some other teams from perhaps Africa that might make a splash but I am fairly sure that some team from South America or Europe will win again.

2018 World Cup update

So the field is finally set for the World Cup as Peru beat New Zealand and Australia beat Honduras in the intra-confederation playoffs. This year there are two teams that are appearing for the first time like Iceland and Panama as well as other that haven’t been in a while Egypt hasn’t made it since 1990 and Peru will be going for the first time in 36 years. It is the first time three Nordic countries (Iceland, Sweden and Denmark) and four Arab nations (Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco) have qualified  for the World Cup. Best of luck to all these teams as they make their way to Russia this upcoming summer.

Now on the other side we have a bunch of teams who failed to qualify. Over on Sports Illustrated and Deadspin there is a report about the US working on creating some sort of World Cup type event for themselves to participate in next summer as they will not be going to the real World Cup in Russia. There are a bunch of team that aren’t taking the trip to Russia as well like Italy, the Netherlands, Ghana, and even Chile. So there would be other teams that might want to come play but, it seems unlikely that this would last very long as hopefully these team will make it in 2022 and if that doesn’t happen in 2026 the World Cup expands from 32 teams to 48 teams so the likelihood of these nations missing will drop in a few years with all regions getting a boost in how many slots they will have I mean the Oceania Football Confederation will get a spot for themselves instead of the .5 slot they currently have. There will also be a six team playoff to decide the final two slots for the World Cup of the all the Confederations not Europe and an extra team from the confederation of the Host nation. This expansion sounds great and it will only be a few years away but it will be one of the most important things that happens to the world of football/soccer

NFL playoff picture and MLS playoffs

With roughly half of the NFL season over it is pretty crazy that most of the league still has a chance to make the playoffs with about 21 of them likely to have upswings in their seasons. This is the results of parity throughout the league for better of worse. Hopefully nothing will be decided until at least December where it could make for some interesting division games to wrap up the season.

Over in Major League Soccer they have shifted to the Conference Finals. These four teams will play a home and home with the aggregate goal total advancing to the MLS Cup. In the East we have a match between the previous two winner of the Eastern Conference in Columbus Crew SC and Toronto FC. So both teams have experience in playing in these gamesIn the West we have the defending Champions in the Seattle Sounders and a team from Houston the Dynamo matching up. Who knows how these games will go we might get to see another team from Houston playing for a Championship or Seattle could be the first to defend a championship since the LA Galaxy back in 2011-2012. It will be an exciting couple of games upcoming.

MLS Playoffs

Sure Major League Soccer doesn’t get much exposure so it isn’t that big of a sport in America but Professional Soccer has been a thing for over two decades now. Currently they are in the Conference semifinals with a home and home series for all the teams with the aggregate score winner moving on to the Conference Finals. In the East we have both New York teams the Red Bulls and NYCFC along with Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew SC. In the West we have the last two MLS Cup winners in the Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers alongside the Houston Dynamo and the Vancouver Whitecaps. While we might be a rematch of last year MLS Cup, Seattle Sounders FC and Toronto FC, I and many others are hoping for a good story to come out with the Columbus Crew winning it all. They are currently a pawn in another stadium exhortation scheme as ownership of the Crew, Anthony Precourt has threatened to move the team to Austin, Texas if he doesn’t get a new downtown stadium. Columbus does play in a stadium built in 1999 but it’s not like it is a bad location compared to other stadiums it still hosts a great energy, and the US Men’s National Team has had some great success there as well. According to the reports the move is to keep up with all the new teams and new stadiums that have come to the league since 1999 and if they move or build a new stadium it would be several years from now the are in a 25 year lease on the current stadium.
Enough about the Crew, but it would be nice to the see the Eastern Conference win as the West has been dominate since 2000 winning 15 of the titles. Hopefully, this can evolve to closer to parity between the two conferences.

Copa America Centenario

This summer in the Americas we have a treat as it is the hundredth anniversary of the Copa America, the CONMEBOL’s (South America’s  football confederation) international competition between the nations in South America determining the Continental champion. The first was held in 1916 and is held every four years this year is a special edition of the tournament as it is a competition between CONMEBOL and CONCACAF (North/Central America and Caribbean). The United States is hosting this centennial tournament, we’ve gotten to the knockout round and it looks like pretty interesting as Brazil is out and it seems like it is wide open for any team to win it including the United States. If you haven’t been watching you are missing out on some exciting matches.

The United States has made it to the Semi-finals so they are one of the final four teams and can improve on their results from Copa America 1995, where they placed fourth. The USMNT will face the winner of the Argentina/Venezuela matchup. On the other side they have Mexico matching up against Chile and Peru facing Columbia.

This is of course only a prelude as in a matter of weeks our attention will move down to Rio for the Olympics. Where we will see if Brazil’s men’s team can finally take home an Olympic gold medal and if the US women can take home a fifth.

Women’s World Cup Final

Well, as most people suspected the United States beat Japan and took home their record third World Cup Trophy. It was a blow out but it sure was an exciting game, a hat trick in the first 16 minutes is crazy. Carli Lloyd now has the fastest hat trick in World Cup History and only the second in a World Cup final joining Geoff Hurst from England in 1966.

This was a remarkable event as the team from the US as it marks the end for many long time members of the team as they finally won the World Cup. For Christie Rampone, it looks like her final World Cup at the age of 40, she became the oldest player in Women’s World Cup history, although she hasn’t made any official retirement date it seems like it will be some time before 2019. Abby Wambach announced before the tournament began that this was her final World Cup. There are some that are speculating that after the Olympics in Rio in 2016 we might see a large turnover in players.

Will the success at the World Cup increase the attendance at the National Women’s Soccer League games as it is the premier women’s league in the United States. The NWSL is the third attempt for a professional women’s soccer league in the US, this one has made it to a third season  and hopefully this league will make it to a fourth season as all previous attempts have only lasted three seasons.