The Men’s National Soccer team (MNT) begins its qualifying journey to the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament tonight with its first match against Antigua & Barbuda, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The MNT is trying to become one of the 32 teams that head to Brazil for the spectacular 2014 World Cup tournament.
The FIFA World Cup happens every four years and is the world’s most widely viewed sporting event; an estimated 715.1 million people watched the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany. (Wikipedia)
Brazil, as the host country, gets an automatic bid to play but for the other 31 teams, it’s time to start the qualifying. Spain, ranked number 1 in the world, is the current World Cup champion having won the tournament in 2010 but like the other teams, they need to earn qualification. The United States team has climbed to 28th in FIFA’s latest standings.
For the US team, tonight’s match is part of the CONCACAF tournament (which stands for Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and although the US team has never faced Antigua & Barbuda, they are favored to win and move on. The MNT is ranked number one in their group (A) and after tonight, they will have to face Jamaica and Guatemala.
The CONCACAF competition will be tough for the US team as they may have to face powerhouses Mexico and/or Honduras at some point. Both Mexico and Honduras have won the CONCACAF several times.
US head coach Jurgen Klinsman is hopeful that the US squad will win the CONCACAF and therefore win a bid to its seventh consecutive appearance in the World Cup.
Now, if they could just do something about those stripped jerseys they’re wearing….