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Your guide to USA soccer and the 2014 World Cup

By fbihop 06/12/2014

Albuquerque News

The World Cup is finally here. Don't know Lionel Messi from Michael Bradley? Don't worry, we're here to answer your questions and help you out. 

You'll be able to talk the World Cup with anyone out there.

Except for that one guy who wears an England jersey and calls soccer "football." Because that guy is obsessed.

What is the World Cup?

Every four years, teams from across the world come together to decide who is the best in the world. The tournament is picked years in advance and rotates between the continents; this year it is in Brazil for the second time and the first time since 1950. 

Teams years attempting to qualify for the World Cup in their regions. The United States, is in CONCACAF. CONCACAF stands for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, so that's why we call it CONCACAF. 

CONCACAF includes North America, central America and the Caribbean. 

The other regions are the Asian Football Confederation (Asia and Australia), the Confédération Africaine de Football (Africa), the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (South America), the Oceania Football Confederation (Pacific Islands) and the Union of European Football Associations (Europe). All but the Oceania Football Confederation have teams in the tournament.

So who's going to win?

You have to watch to find out!

But if you’re a gambling man or woman, Brazil is probably where you want to go. They’re the betting favorites ahead of Argentina, Germany and defending champion Spain (pictured above). 

Numbers guru Nate Silver has Brazil as a massive favorite. Why? Not only is Brazil a very good team, they’re playing at home and home teams traditionally get a performance boost in World Cups. Also, European teams traditionally have not played well in South American-hosted tournaments. 

OK, enough of these other countries. Is the USA in it?

Yes, the United States is in the World Cup. This is the seventh consecutive World Cup where the United States have participated, following missing nine straight World Cups. The United States made the World Cup thanks to winning CONCACAF qualifying.

Can the USA win it all?

I believe that we can, especially after watching that video.

But, realistically... probably not. It’s not a good sign when your manager says that your team cannot win. They will have a tough time making it out of their group to make it to the knockout rounds, having been drawn in a tough group.

Groups? What?

The World Cup begins with all 32 teams in groups of four. They play each of the other teams in their group once and get three points for a win and one point for a tie. The top two teams from each group move on. 

The selection of groups is not fair, especially to the top CONCACAF and Asian teams. The United States, for example, got drawn into Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Germany is a favorite to go far, Portugal has probably the second-best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and Ghana is a very good team from Africa. 

I've heard of that Landon Donovan guy, is he playing?

Not in the World Cup. He was left off the squad, though will be the first person called up if a forward gets hurt.

Isn't he our best player?

He was. He provided the best World Cup moment for the US ever (see the reactions!) in 2010. 

But... he’s getting up there in age (32 is old for an athlete) and wasn’t in the best form of play in recent weeks. He will be watching the games, though.

"Part of me just wants to sit on my couch and sit there and let the emotions go one way or the other so I am not around anybody," Donovan told Dan Patrick. "And part of me wants to go to a bar and have a few beers and watch with local soccer fans and experience it all that way. I don't know. It will probably be a game-time decision."

So who IS our best player?

The best player for the United States is Michael Bradley, who now plays for Toronto FC in Major League Soccer. He previously played in Germany and Italy. 

He plays center midfield and when he is in the game, he helps control the center of the field which is incredibly important in soccer. Bradley also looks like a guy that you would never want to fight.

Clint Dempsey is also up there, also back in the MLS after a stint in England.

How do I watch it?

All of the games will be on the ABC/ESPN family of networks. You can see the schedule here

Before you ask, the World Cup starts on Thursday with Brazil and Croatia taking center stage. Then, you’ll get three and four games a day for the next couple of weeks, including Mexico’s first game against Cameroon on Friday and the United States taking on Ghana on Monday, June 16. The United States then plays Portugal on Sunday and Germany on Thursday, June 26.

Can we fill out a bracket?

Sure! It's different than the NCAA bracket because of the groups, but ESPN has a bracket.

In fact, why don't you sign up for the Newscastic bracket pool? It's free! Just get your entries in before the first game starts.

So which city in Brazil is it in?

Unlike the Olympics, the World Cup takes place in multiple cities in the same country (or in one case, two countries). In other words, it is taking place all over from the Amazon rainforest in Manaus (where the field might not be ready) to the capital city of Brasília. 

Who should I cheer for?

If you're American, you should cheer for the USA, of course.

Brazil is always a popular choice because they have traditionally played the most attractive soccer. And if Brazil crashes out of the tournament early, it could be a bad scene in the country.

One SBNation writer says you should cheer for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You should know that the United States' biggest rival is Mexico.

Can you show me a viral clip about how the World Cup organizing body is corrupt and terrible?

Sure!

OK, I need to know more about this World Cup

We could go on all day, but there is no better and more entertaining way to follow the World Cup than through the Men in Blazers, a podcast for Grantland. Roger Bennett and Michael Davies are from England, but they have adopted their new country of the USA wholeheartedly.

They will both be in Brazil during the World Cup and podcasts and tweets are sure to come.

That's depressing. How about something more uplifting?

Go go USA.