World Cup preview: A noob’s guide to Brazil 2014

By
From the June 12, 2014 edition

Soccer is more popular than ever in the United States, but there are still plenty of people who treat the World Cup more like the Olympics, i.e. this is the one time every four years they pay attention to the sport. We at Alive soccer HQ offer these people mercy by not holding them in contempt, and we offer them grace in the form of this handy primer.

• View World Cupopoly as a PDF here •

QUALIFYING

Each region of the world has its own soccer association that runs its own qualifying tournament in the years between World Cups. The U.S. is part of CONCACAF (Confederation Of North, Central American & Caribbean Association Football). The U.S. got a bye to the third round due to FIFA world rankings. Those games occurred in 2012.

June 8, 2012

U.S. 3-1 Antigua and Barbuda

(Tampa, Florida)

June 12, 2012

Guatemala 1-1 U.S.

(Guatemala City, Guatemala)

Sept. 7, 2012

Jamaica 2-1 U.S.

(Kingston, Jamaica)

Sept. 11, 2012

U.S. 1-0 Jamaica

(CREW STADIUM!)

Oct. 12, 2012

Antigua and Barbuda 1-2 U.S.

(North Sound, Antigua)

Oct. 16, 2012

U.S. 3-1 Guatemala

(Kansas City, Missouri)

THE HEXAGONAL

The final qualifying round features CONCACAF’s six best teams, so it’s called the Hexagonal. The teams all faced each other home-and-away. These games occurred throughout 2013.

Feb. 6, 2013

Honduras 2-1 U.S.

(San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

March 22, 2013

U.S. 1-0 Costa Rica

(Commerce City, Colorado)

March 26, 2013

Mexico 0-0 U.S.

(Mexico City, Mexico)

June 7, 2013

Jamaica 1-2 U.S.

(Kingston, Jamaica)

June 11, 2013

U.S. 2-0 Panama

(Seattle, Washington)

Sept. 6, 2013

Costa Rica 3-1 U.S.

(San Jose, Costa Rica)

Sept. 10, 2013

U.S. 2-0 Mexico

For the past four qualifying cycles, the U.S. has hosted Mexico at Crew Stadium. The Americans always win 2-0, or “dos-a-cero.” It has become a psychological edge like the one Mexico has at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Oct.11, 2013

U.S. 2-0 Jamaica

(Kansas City, Missouri)

Oct. 15, 2013

Panama 2-3 U.S.

(Panama City, Panama)

U.S. qualifies for World Cup 2014!

THE DRAW

Once the field has been narrowed to 32 nations, they’re divided into eight groups of four teams each. The selections are random but weighted for diversity according to FIFA rankings and geography.

Dec. 6, 2013

World Cup Draw

(Bahia, Brazil)

U.S. ends up in Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana

Group G is dubbed “Group of Death” based on strength of competition

Today — June 12

IT’S WORLD CUP TIME!

Unlike the Olympics, which take place in a single city, the World Cup happens across an entire country. This year’s tournament is in Brazil.

GROUP PLAY

Each nation plays the other three teams in its group — three points for a win, one point for a tie. The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage.

June 12

Brazil vs. Croatia, 4 p.m.

First match of the Cup

June 13

Spain vs. The Netherlands, 3 p.m.

2010 finals rematch

June 14

England vs. Italy, 6 p.m.

Will England choke as usual?

June 16

U.S. vs. Ghana, 6 p.m.

A must-win for the U.S.

June 22

U.S. vs. Portugal, 6 p.m.

U.S. upset Portugal in 2002 Cup

June 23

Australia vs. Spain, 12 p.m.

Long lunch alert: Defending champs edition

June 25

Nigeria vs. Argentina, 12 p.m.

Long lunch alert: Lionel Messi edition

June 26

U.S. vs. Germany, 12 p.m.

U.S. might need a miracle here

June 26

Portugal vs. Ghana, 12 p.m.

Could affect U.S. hopes to advance

KNOCKOUT ROUND

Once the field is narrowed to 16, the World Cup proceeds like the NCAA basketball tournament — winner moves on, loser goes home. No more ties allowed, which means overtime and shootouts come into play.

June 28

Round of 16 begins

July 4

Quarterfinals begin

July 8

Semifinals begin

July 12

Third-place match

July 13

World Cup final, 3 p.m.

No matter which teams advance to the final, this is bound to be electrifying. Leave your afternoon open and soak it up. This won’t happen again for four years!