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Link – FIFA set to approve bigger, richer World Cup on Tuesday

FIFA wants us to believe this isn’t about the money, it’s about “growing the game”, but please, this is about the money.

And that’s ok. Just admit it FIFA.

The downsides to the change are obvious. Think about the 15-16 seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament, for example. Sure, occasionally you get a nice story out of these teams being competitive, but most of the time, those games suck. (And really, given the competitive balance in world soccer, it might be more comparable to the 15-16 seeds in the Women’s tournament.)

So there are going to be some ugly games out there. OK, deal with it.

The move to individual time slots though and three team groups, is a concern. There actually is a reason that the last group games are played at the same time, to prevent teams from knowing what outcome they need ahead of time and colluding together to produce that outcome. I’m not a fan of changing those times to make TV happy and running the risk. It will happen eventually.

With three teams in each group, it would be easy as pie for the last game to occur between two teams that collude to get each other to the next round, leaving the third team out.

For example – let’s take Teams A,B and C in a group.

  • Team A defeats Team B by a 3-1 score
  • Team B ties Team C
  • Team A now has the option of deciding whether they would rather Team B moves on by trying their best to defeat Team C by more goals, or simply allowing Team C to keep it close and letting them move on.

That’s a problem. One that could easily be eliminated by having 12 groups of 4, and then adding in second place teams along with the top 8 third place teams.

Or, it’s a problem that they are creating so that then they can go to a 64 team tournament to fix it….?

This is FIFA, I wouldn’t put anything past them.

http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/FIFA-is-set-to-make-the-World-Cup-a-bigger-and-it-hopes-richer-event-even-if-the-price-to-pay-is-lower-quality-soccer/id-d0207eee5a6c477b868ba19d35659074

Link – Team USA falls to Czechs, finishes winless in World Cup embarrassment

Yeah this didn’t go well at all. Frankly, I’m not sure what USA Hockey was going for here. If you listen to the brain trust going into the tournament, and the explanation for their, umm, interesting roster decisions, they seemed to have been aiming for a gritty, defense-minded, tough, team. They also seemed to be using the 1996 World Cup team as their model. Similarly, that team had some guys on it who you would not consider to be All-Star offensive players. (Bryan Smolinski, Steve Konowalchuk, etc.) But they had plenty of offensive firepower too. That team had Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Brian Leetch and Phil Housley manning the points, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, and so on.

And, in terms of being able to shut down their opponents, they had Mike Richter playing in front of Chris Chelion, the Hatchers, Leetch, et al.

The 2016 version of Team USA was not this. For firepower it had Patrick Kane, and a bunch of fairly decent NHL scorers, but left home some of the best offensive talent America has to offer. It also had a defense corp that was, well not 1996. And that’s where I wonder what they were thinking. If the idea was to model that 1996 team, all you had to do was look at the defensemen on the roster for both teams.

Obviously, with the defense, 1996 could not have been the game plan. Not with that defense. Look again at the Hall of Fame defenders on that team. The 2016 version had Jack Johnson and Dustin Byfuglien. This was a failure of strategy, and not understanding the talent in front of you.

Personally, I don’t think the US was good enough to do much damage in this tournament anyway, but maybe it wouldn’t have been as embarrassing had they not been saddled with this 1996 strategy, especially because the game isn’t even the same as it was 20 years ago. The entertaining Team North America showed us where hockey is heading, and it’s not back to the days of grinding out a 2-1 win against the likes of what Canada put on the ice.

Luckily for us though, much of that bright talent on display for Team North America are Americans. Let’s hope the brain trust can get out of their way.
http://sports.yahoo.com/news/team-usa-finishes-winless-in-world-cup-embarrassment-024230408.html

Link – FIFA in talks for 40-team World Cup starting in 2026

jarmoluk / Pixabay

“The 2026 bidding should start next year with the United States, Canada and Mexico the expected candidates. The U.S. would likely be the favorite for a tournament needing a minimum 12 stadiums for a 96-match World Cup.”

Wouldn’t this kind of expansion pretty much limit the number of places that host a World Cup? The need for 12 stadiums rules out an awful lot of places just based on the logistics of having that many games.

FIFA in talks for 40-team World Cup starting in 2026