The 2018 World Cup is underway! For an entire month, ‘the beautiful game’ will be the center of the sporting world. From humble beginnings to the biggest sports event in the world, here’s how it got there.
There will be no “America First” in this World Cup. No America anywhere, for that matter.
The U.S. will be sitting out the world’s biggest party and, as the old saying goes, misery loves company. Let your friends break out their Neymar jerseys or go ga-ga for Iceland. Every team that begins play later this week in Russia is flawed, and you’ll spare yourself a lot of pain over the next six weeks if you recognize now the ways that they, too, will break your heart.
So let’s rip the Band-Aid off and start knocking out your would-be favorites.
PORTUGAL: Cristiano Ronaldo might be brilliant, but his whining and diving makes him soccer’s equivalent of the third grader who’s always starting trouble on the playground and then tattling on other people. You can’t root for that.
MOROCCO: Not after it tried to steal a World Cup on U.S. soil! The United States, along with Canada and Mexico, had what was considered a gimme bid for the 2026 tournament until Morocco came along. The North Americans will probably still prevail Wednesday, but the Lions of the Atlas still deserve the stinkeye.
COSTA RICA: The Americans have no one to blame but themselves for missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986. But the Ticos certainly didn’t help.
There was the stunning 2-0 upset at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Even worse was Costa Rica’s 2-1 loss to Panama on the final night of qualifying, which sealed the Americans’ fate. Costa Rica took an early lead in a game Panama had to win to leapfrog the U.S. for the final automatic berth, only to give up the go-ahead goal in the 87th minute.
Thanks for nothing, Ticos.
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