Fox televison set to show a lot of the World to us

Commentary

The premier event in world soccer kicks off on June 14 with the 2018 men’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

There is a missing link — for the first time in 32 years the USA will not be competing in World Cup competition, after the men’s team failed to qualify late last year after it lost 2-1 in the qualifying round against Trinidad and Tobago.

The U.S. is absent for the first World Cup since 1986. In 2014. the U.S. men’s team had an exciting run in the World Cup. Former USA National team coach, Jurgen Klinsman, said, “soccer in the U.S. has been set back by several years as a result of not qualifying.”

The Women’s U.S. National team won the last World Cup in 2015 and has taken the spotlight in soccer away from the U.S. men.

The tournament will take place at various cities in Russia from June 14-July 15, using 12 stadiums in Russia in 11 cities. Going into World Cup play, Germany, Brazil, Belgium and Portugal were the highest ranked teams by FIFA. Germany hopes to defend its 2014 title. Other key teams to watch are Argentina and Spain. The most dangerous players to watch will be Lionel Messier and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Both Iceland and Panama will be making their first appearances in World Cup play with Peru returning to the tournament for the first time in 36 years. FIFA selected Russia to host the Cup as part of a campaign to spread the World Cup to new countries. There is , however, great concern over the security aspect of playing in Russia.

Viewers will be able to catch 64 matches of the 2018 World Cup on Fox Sports. Thirty eight of those will air live, including the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia on July 14 at 11 a.m. The championship game will be on July 15 at 11 a.m. More than 1.69 million tickets have been purchased since September 2017 to view Cup games.

Around the area

n An area soccer team accomplished an incredible task in winning the PA West State Cup championship. The Blazers, a U-16 Classic team playing out of the Hollidaysburg Soccer Association, played for the State Cup championship Sunday at Kiski High School field and beat Century V, the defending champ, 2-1.

They are the first team from this area to win a PA West State Cup championship.

The Blazers earned their way to the finals by beating Division 1 Classic teams from Foothills, Century V and the Hot Spurs in a tight shootout.

The Blazers started the year as a Division 2 Classic team but won their Division 2 league, going unbeaten and finishing first in their bracket. As a result, they will be promoted to Division 1 Classic play next spring. It was Blazers head coach Maurice Taylor’s third trip to a PA West Championship game.

n The Bedford Soccer Club is desperately trying to beef up its number of certified referees. The club had to run most of the season with a skeleton crew of referees every weekend, with the same referees covering four or more games on given Sundays.

Center referee Erick Seager said, “keeping up with 18-year-olds in the first game keeps you moving. By the fourth game and five hours later, it is an extreme challenge.”

The club hopes to recruit additional youth referees into the program.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.

COMMENTS