Currently, the landscape for World Cup soccer is looking pretty good:
United States-Canada-Mexico 2026
World Cup Russia 2018 begins tomorrow.
June 14-July 15, 2018
The World Cup has arrived in the United States again. As reported by The New York Times and many other outlets around the world, today the big news arrived and the 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. The information and circumstances surrounding this whirlwind of excitement was included in The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup, as was background on FIFA, the international organizing body of soccer, who will profit approximately $11 billion dollars from the 2026 World Cup. Some say more. It's a huge day for US soccer; the last World Cup hosted by the US was in 1994. The two previous World Cups hosted by Mexico were in 1986 and 1970. This will be the first men's World Cup hosted by Canada, the illustrious neighbors to the north.
Currently, the landscape for World Cup soccer is looking pretty good:
United States-Canada-Mexico 2026
World Cup Russia 2018 begins tomorrow.
June 14-July 15, 2018
The following is a book excerpt from The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup
A Brief Team History
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
The Argentineans got off to a good start in their World Cup endeavors, placing second at the first ever tournament held in Uruguay in 1930. Goals from Carlos Peucelle and Guillermo Stabile were not enough to defeat the hosts, Uruguay, as Argentina lost in the final by a score of 4-2. Then things took an interesting turn for the worse.
Argentina lost early in 1934 and subsequently didn’t participate in 1938, 1950, or 1954. They braced for 1958 with more optimism; however, they finished dead last in their group, and left Sweden feeling utterly disappointed.
Things weren’t much better in Chile in 1962, as Argentina finished third in their group. Yet another early elimination for the team that had placed second in the very first World Cup.
Things would get better in 1966, as they finished second in their group behind West Germany. Yet, they lost in the quarterfinals to the hosts, and eventual champs, England, by a score of 1-0 in Wembley Stadium in front of over 90,000 people with a strong bias for the home team.
By 1970, it was back to the old story of not qualifying. In 1974, they had another idea, placing second in their group behind Poland. However, they lost in their second-round group, finishing last behind East Germany.
During these years, win or lose, Argentina fielded teams that showcased players that were individually a little better than others, such as Onega from the 1960s. They may not have been doing well in World Cups, but they had a certain craft about their touch with a little swagger to the way they dribbled—a hint of things to come. They were the type of players that, right away, caught your eye. But considering their somewhat unstable on-again, off-again relationship with the World Cup, there was something holding them back.
As hosts, 1978 would be Argentina’s year. They started things out by finishing second in their group behind Italy. In the second round, things were broken up into Groups A and B. There were concerns, particularly from Brazilian constituents, that Argentina—who, at the time, was under a strict dictatorship—rigged the all-important match with Peru. Some assert the referees were manipulated; others claim the Peruvian players were approached with bribes and threats beforehand; while still others insist both the referees and Peruvian players were instructed to give the game over to the hosts. The game ended in a 6-0 victory for Argentina as Kempes led the charge with two. Within the group, Argentina tied Brazil. Based on points and goal differential, Argentina advanced to the championship while Brazil was forced to play for the consolation. So when Argentina defeated the Netherlands for the final, many speculated it wasn’t the fairest of tournaments.
Making it to the second round in 1982, Argentina was quickly eliminated in Group C with defeats from superpowers Italy and Brazil. Argentina’s new star, Diego Maradona (who nearly made the 1978 squad), would have to wait four more years for his shot at glory.
By 1986, led by arguably the greatest player of all time, Maradona, Argentina had to their advantage a new era of refereeing. FIFA had listened to the calls for change at the last World Cup. There were many complaints about the game getting out of control with unnecessary rough play, leaving creative types like Maradona on the ground more often than they’d like to be. Thanks to many factors, including a well-rounded Argentinean side, along with the brilliance of Maradona and the hand of Maradona, Argentina would win the championship in stylish form, making it their second title. In 1990, Argentina, led by Maradona, received the runner-up award, losing to West Germany.
Over the course of 16 years, the tournaments of 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010 featured various talented players for their respective time, including Zanetti, Ortega, Veron, Crespo, Tevez, Riquelme, and Messi, and each was a decent showing for the two-time champs, yet Argentina failed to lift the trophy.
In 1994, they lost in the second round to Romania. In 1998, they lost in the quarterfinals to the Netherlands. The 2002 World Cup wasn’t very good for Argentina as they failed to get out of their group. At Germany in 2006, they lost to Germany in the quarterfinals. Yet again in South Africa in 2010, they lost to Germany in the quarterfinals.
In 2014, led by Messi and a talented group of players fit for a championship, Argentina made the finals, with a good showing against Germany, but it wasn’t enough. As for Russia 2018, seeing that it could likely be Messi’s last, the people of Argentina are looking forward to a third championship.
The following is a book excerpt from The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup.
What to Watch for on TV—How Messi, Neymar, Kroos, and Others Play
Based on Rivaldo’s notorious flop near the corner flag in the 2002 World Cup, Brazil might forever be worthy of the “Top Flop Team” award…an honor Neymar’s team may want to stray away from.
Over the years, every team in the world has been inspired by Brazil. Interestingly, in today’s game, Brazil is now caught in a position of keeping up with the pack, as one of the gods of world soccer. Since 2008, Spain and Germany have continued on a path of success in the modern era (even though Spain is likely returning to a path of normal). Now, somewhat lost by comparison, Brazil has to learn from these teams in an attempt to use tactics from the “new” refined European style (which relies on principles of sound possession to outwill an opponent), while redefining their “old” samba rhythm.
If Neymar and supporting staff are healthy, Brazil should have a huge impact on the tournament. Watch for quick, upbeat passing, with Neymar seeing plenty of the ball, exuding his dribbling prowess whenever he can, exploiting the sides while also turning into the middle, causing danger for opposing defenders. With Brazil, quick combination passes open up the wings for overlapping outside defenders who are chosen for their ability to attack down the line. If all these parts are operating at full-throttle, Brazil should be a handful for any opponent and a pleasure to watch.
Overall Team Rating: 9.2, bordering on 8.8
Despite Neymar and the successful World Cup qualification run making it appear as though Brazil is a solid 10, the samba beat struggled in the 2016 Copa America, and many lineup choices are not reflective of Brazil’s true artistic potential. For that reason, even though they’re a favorite to win the whole thing, they are a 9.2, slipping into the 8.8 range.
After lunch, and definitely by 4pm, explain to John Oates that tonight is the very last night he can sleep in my car.
Tunisia is an interesting underdog team for World Cup 2018, which begins next month in Russia. Here is a closer look at the north African side, a team with a lot of potential.
An excerpt from The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup...
A Brief Team History
From 1930 to 1974, Tunisia didn’t compete in a World Cup. In 1978, they made their debut in Argentina, but didn’t get out of their group which consisted of Poland, West Germany, and Mexico. Their next World Cup was 1998, when they couldn’t get out of their group. The same occurred in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
During the African World Cup qualification games—referred to as “Preliminary Competition” by FIFA—the Tunisians got first in their group, which consisted of Congo DR, Libya, and Guinea.
Tunisia won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004. They won the Arab Nations Cup in 1963.
Facts About Their Country
Tunisia’s population is around 10.9 million people, with an estimated GDP of 42 billion. Tunisia’s most capped player is Radhi Jaidi, with 105. Celtia and Berber beer[ss1] are likely to make the rounds during Tunisia’s games, as people back home watch their team try for an upset in Russia.
Where the Team Is Today—Tactics and Strategies
Tunisia plays some hybrid of a 4-3-3. By design, or accidentally, they sway around, often keeping players close together like swarming sharks while sometimes forming a defensive backline of five defenders. While in possession of the ball, they sometimes leave three defenders back—usually while they’re in possession—and then as things progress, it all takes the shape of a 4-3-3, more or less.
Nabil Maaloul—A Brief Coaching Portrait
Nabil Maaloul took the responsibility of coaching in 2017. He coached the team before in 2013, while also serving as an assistant in the past. The Tunisian-born Maaloul also coached Kuwait from 2014-2017. With Tunisia, he’s inherited an uphill task, taking the team on during the end of qualifications, only one year before the World Cup. His vision should be to keep the team operating at a skillful level, with a bit of improvement on their short passing combinations—which fits their style—before they hit their stride in World Cup action.
Key Players and Their Characteristics
(Mohamed Amine Ben Amor, Ahmed Akaichi, and Taha Yassine Khenissi)
Mohamed Amine Ben Amor is an able-footed midfielder who joined Tunisia in 2015. He plays sturdy and relentless, holding the fort with good passes and thoughtful play.
Ahmed Akaichi, born in 1989, is a forward who’s played with Tunisia since 2010. He’s a serviceable attacking player that will bring experience and leadership, which will be valuable for the success of Tunisia’s efforts on the big stage.
Taha Yassine Khenissi, born in 1992, is a forward with quick moves around the box and a mind for scoring. Since joining Tunisia in 2013, he’s contributed toward their success and will be an asset with the team in Russia.
FOR FURTHER DETAIL and analysis on all 32 teams of World Cup 2018, the key players, coaches, and more, buy The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup.
England and Brazil: World Cup 2018. Two old teams to watch for.
England hasn't won the World Cup since 1966, their big year. Since then things haven't been great for the Three Lions World Cup experience.
In fact, within the European Cup, things have been even worse for the English as they've never won. This is interesting as their main European rivals have World Cup and European Cup titles (Germany, Italy, France, Spain).
Yet in the World Cup, where England has a claim to fame, since 1966 things have been unlucky to outright disappointing. However, they always have the capability to win; they always have a top-notch group of players. It often has to do with chemistry. There is also the English tendency to cross the ball for scoring chances. It's an inherently difficult way to score, similar to a corner kick (see section on corner kicks in The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup). Should England focus more on improving dribbling, and hence creative scoring chances around the goal their odds of World Cup success should increase. As for World Cup 2018, they have a good team with a strong chance to make history again, some 52 years later.
Brazil hasn't won the World Cup since 2002. A long time for the Brazilians. They lead all nations with five World Cup titles. Though, in a way, they've fallen off the horse a bit since 2006. With the recent Olympic gold medal run in 2016, they're pushing their way back to the top, where they feel they belong. This isn't to say they've been absent. (Though, they had a terrible 2016 Copa America result.) They're always "Brazil." They're always a top team, and always prime time. They have the players in place to make a strong run at the title in Russia. Players like Willian and Neymar should set them apart from even the top teams of the world. Should they win, this would be their record-setting sixth title.
Tell the truth.
During the writing of The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup, which was about a year, there were times when I literally had no idea what day it was. Your welcome.
A Brief Team History
World Cup titles: 4 (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
Germany leads all nations with four second-place finishes (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002). And they lead with four third-place finishes, as well (1934, 1970, 2006, 2010). The defending champs have a long legacy of winning, which gives them an advantage heading into World Cup Russia. Not to mention, they won the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. If they win the 2018 World Cup they'll be the first team to win two World Cups in a row since Brazil did it in 1958 and 1962. (The only other team in history to achieve this would be Italy in 1934 and 1938).
Many thanks to Manuel, Liz, everyone at M&M, Cardinal, and a number of others for bringing this book to life. Many of whom are listed below, along with plenty of others not mentioned.
Many moons ago, before this book, and my previous one Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet, following high school, thanks to indiscretions, I ended up quitting soccer for a while…and strayed away from academics as well. In fact, my high school guidance counselor called the morning of graduation, ecstatic, genuinely excited, explaining to me, “Congratulations! You graduated! You’re GPA was just enough!” I had just woken up and must’ve said to him, “GPA? Who is this? How’d you get my number?” And he kept talking, like we knew each other. I honestly had no clue why he felt we were so close. So I graduated. Eventually, in college I would make the Dean's List. Though, in high school, that was my time to dream and think nothing of the future, and I definitely did not foresee writing books as an option. I only saw 'today' and maybe 'tomorrow.' Even though I had written a couple books as a kid (a spy novel, and coincidentally a fiction book about soccer as a sixth grade project), I was too busy playing out the stereotypical path of a high school teen, not paying attention, especially to teachers.
Shortly after high school I didn’t play an official soccer game for eight or nine years and, as it turns out, soccer has stayed with me. To be the only soccer player from Carbondale, IL to play pro (as a 32-year-old rookie) is an honor; to get anywhere in soccer – coming from Carbondale – is an honor. Nobody took Carbondale soccer seriously. Yet, I played with many great youth players there including Gregory Gimenez, Dylan Bates, Matt Parsons, Eric Allen, and many older guys who I looked up to (such as Toby Waller and Tiger Shepard, who were on the first traveling team). That’s where I learned the game, and, along with many others, those guys, Gregory, Dylan, Matt and Eric – who were also phenomenal athletes – were pivotal. Even the goalkeeping exploits of Malcolm Smith and Johnson Bell. (Goalies, what are they good for?) At Winkler, in the second grade, Johnson, the leader of the school, who was a year ahead of me, organized soccer games on the basketball courts; one of my early experiences with the game. Not to mention my guys Aaron Stolberg and Ben Londergan, two great players from the land of IU, where I saw firsthand the brilliant coaching approach of the US national team coach that never was, Jerry Yeagley, at his Indiana University soccer camps, where I was fortunate enough to get two MVP awards. And my man Leandro, who kicked his foot against my couch during one of our indoor games, who was from Brazil, where I stayed and played, gaining valuable insight to the game.
I also cherish having moved to Collinsville and playing with great St. Louis talent (the “king” of soccer); eventually winning a Missouri State Club Championship with Busch and a great coach, a Holland Cup Championship with amazing players and a brilliant coach; from my Elks and CHS days, having played with and against many talented Granite City players; and the scores of talent from Collinsville – including but not limited to Marty Bub, Doug Hartmann, Steve Van Dyke, Mike Verning and Matt Chandler – winning two-consecutive Illinois State High School Championships (back when there was only one state champ), with Rick Artime scoring a crucial goal in the finals with my Brazilian shoes on, after losing his pair, no doubt.
Along with that, and the thirty-odd trophies and awards I accumulated (35 to be exact, but who’s counting), I’m even more humbled and honored to have been asked to write a book about the world’s greatest game and tournament: The World Cup 2018 Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Soccer World Cup. With all the European soccer-genius’ to choose from, it’s a great honor to have written this book. A PG book, by the way, with no cussing – sorry Mrs. Gardner. Currently, it’s the only World Cup book in the world for 2018. Somehow it might stay that way, unless the guys from Soccernomics – an interesting book – come barking up my tree.
Thank you to everyone that has crossed my athletic path, in soccer and other sports…other sports which I clearly dominated. Dominated like Shaq transposed into Time Bandits. In fact, during a time when I should’ve played baseball, no one in high school or college saw my great technique for getting picked off at first, which is called, “Don’t pay attention whatsoever, while you’re telling everyone in the dugout how terrible your opponent is.” Lesson to be learned: "You never start a land war in Asia, you never cross a Sicilian when death is on the line, and never underestimate a baseball player from Herrin, Harrisburg or Marion.” They’re pretty good.
Along the way, for many years I was around so many other guys that had ideas of other things. I was fortunate to share the stage with so many talented guys – Baldhead Phillips, Marvin M Dubbs Phipps, Brian Da Wildcat Smith, Marlon big hoss the boss Mitchell, George Willborn, Leon the man Rogers, Tony Sculfield, Reggie Reg, Mike Samp, Brian Babylon, J Deep, Calvin Evans, Shawn Morgan, Howie Bell, Luenell, Patti Vasquez, John Mulaney, Mo Mandel, Nico Santos, Alex Blagg, Kevin Shea, Jen Kober, just to name a tiny few, and other established vets way back in 04’ who I watched and learned from when I first started out like W. Kamau Bell, Arj Barker, Sam Arno and a myriad of others – and somehow I wish I could do it again. Not to mention other wise people along the way – such as Norm Holly, Mary Lindsey and Phil Greer – who helped shape this adventure, whether they knew it or not.
Don’t drink and drive. Donate to charities, like the Humane Society or Deprived Children’s Education or Meals on Wheels or anything with the word “charity” in it.
Il etait une fois un bon rappeur a dit:
“Who am I? ED the green eyed bandit.
Good night. Knock em’ out the box Rick, knock em’ out Rick.”
Someone else said:
Mon prochain projet est un examen complet de Sanford and Son.
“Again, again. Again, again.”
Hold a bottle of cologne, wear a beret and dress up like Slick Rick everyday.
(Just north of San Francisco, on route to "old school hip hop night" with friend and former radio colleague, James Marchbanks. The location was never found. It's possible the "old school hip hop" organizers fell asleep.)
(NS) refers to "Non-Soccer" related blog entries, stories and essays.
ALL WRITTEN WORK COPYRIGHT SHANE STAY 2014-2018