2014 World Cup Soccer for Dummies

If you didn’t already need a reason, FIFA World Cup 2014 gives you another reason to get drunk and yell at your TV this summer.

The summer is upon us, and so, after a four-year wait, World Cup Soccer is finally here. This tournament, which captivates the minds of millions, inspires, builds, and decimates the hopes and dreams of people everywhere, begins June 12th when host nation Brazil takes on Croatia in the Arena de Sao Paulo in, well, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Cue Samba, beaches at sunset, and heat to rival our own dead of summer misery. You may remember the horns that plagued 2010’s tournament in South Africa or French Striker Legend Zinedine Zidane’s errant headbutt in the 2006 final in Germany, but this year it’s all about heat, wet, hot, swampy, Amazonian heat.

It’s going to be a hot one, folks.

Just what is the World Cup and why should I care? I thought you might ask. Don’t worry, it’s a great drinking event and pairs nicely with hangover Sundays and midweek benders. It’s soccer’s Super Bowl, and the whole world watches. There are Davids and Goliaths. There’s style and precision. Hollering USA is also a great way to get your throat ready for Saints screaming season come fall.

With that said, let’s see how this all works.

The American Team

US World Cup roster

Our boys in Red, White, and Blue are just one of 32 nations selected to compete in FIFA’s Copa Mundial after qualifying throughout 2012 and 2013. Captained by Nacogdoches, TX native Clint “Deuce” Dempsey, our squad features a glorious gander of young players eager to make their mark and finally put US Soccer on the map.

Despite a semi-final appearance in 1930, who can forget it, the US have enjoyed little in the way of World Cup success. Though we made it to the quarter-final stage in 2002 in South Korea, former German National Team and Bayern Munchen star Jurgen Klinsmann’s Germany sent us packing after what many believe to be a blown call on the part of the referee. Jurgie, however, is now our coach, and after a historically triumphant run in 2013, the great eagle of the US is perched eagerly for dominance.

If hair is any indicator, this tournament is in the bag.

yedlin Kyle Beckerman)

The Rest of the Pack

Competing alongside the Yanks, you’ll see world football superpowers Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Portugal, as well as second tier France, Netherlands, Argentina, Uruguay, England, and Belgium. Scrambling along below, and most likely to not make it out of the preliminary group stages, find Mexico, Russia, Cameroon, Croatia, the Socceroos of Australia, Colombia, Japon, Ivory Coast, Switzerland, Honduras, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Greece, Korea Republic, Nigeria, AND Algeria.

Keep special watch on American upstarts Chile and Costa Rica as they attempt to thwart Netherlands and England, respectively, and West African Phenoms, aka the Black Stars of Ghana as they will once again no doubt strive to dash any chances of victory and the establishment of soccer as America’s favorite sport and world recognition for our brave men’s bold skills and style, but I digress.

The Structure

This preliminary stage will be played over a 15-day period in which each team will play the three others in their group. Advancement to the Round of 16 is awarded to two teams from each group who garner the most points by winning or drawing their matches. While winning provides 3 points and drawing 1 point, a team in the bubble may still advance through goal differential. Every point counts.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the groups (Click the links for more info):

A. Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

B. Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

C. Colombia, Greece, Cote d’Ivoire, Japan

D. Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

E. Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

F. Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

G. (AKA Group of Death) Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

H. Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic

Following group play, the Round of 16 kicks off June 28th with the Quarter Finals beginning on the Fourth of July. The Semis run July 8th and 9th with the Final on the 13th.

Where to watch in New Orleans

All 64 matches of the World Cup will be broadcast live and in high definition on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 in English, and on Univision broadcast and cable networks in Spanish. If you cut the cord a long time ago and don’t have access to these networks on a home tele, there are still several great bars that you can catch all the action.

Fin McCools Irish Pub

Your best option for any game has to be Finn McCool’s Irish Pub on Banks St. It broadcasts every World Cup game, regardless of the time of day. Be warned, though, it gets crowded, so unless you plan on standing up the entire game, get there early.

Other options include:

With just a little time to go until the big show, might I suggest you dust off the old stars and stripes, maybe throw on some stone-washed denim and slap a new coat of Fire-Engine Red on the Chevy parked on your lawn? It’s soccer time, ain’t nothing more American than that.

For more information, questions, soccer talk contact Mark Allain at [email protected].

About Mark

Mark is a native New Orleanian and graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory. A poet and essayist, Mark believes in language, soccer, and charbroiled everything. Catch him talking about it between sets at Tipitinas or in line for the Barrel Proof restroom.

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