With the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia completed and the Round of 16 brackets set, some pretty exciting and unusual things have happened in the first two weeks of play.
In the opening match, the host nation demolished a lackadaisical Saudi Arabia team 5-0. European giants Portugal and Spain faced each other in what has been by far the most entertaining match of the group stages in which we saw Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat-trick, becoming the fourth player in history to score in four World Cups behind Brazilian legend Pele and German stars Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
We’ve also seen two teams — Mexico and Japan — advance through to the Round of 16 after losing their final games in group play, thanks to some luck and a new tiebreaker.
After losing 3-0 to Sweden in Group F in their third game, Mexico advanced thanks to some help from South Korea’s 2-0 win over Germany, effectively ending Germany’s trip and pushing the Central American team through to the Round of 16.
“It’s kind of crazy what happened with Mexico and Germany,” said Canyon boys soccer coach Robert Benavidez. “You have had a full gamut of good games and ultimately the defending champions got knocked out.”
Winning and tying their first two games in Group H against Colombia and Senegal, 2-1 and 2-2, respectively, Japan headed in their third game tied with Senegal at 4 points. Senegal lost to Colombia 1-0 and Japan lost to Poland 1-0, putting the Colombians at the top of the group with Japan and Senegal tied in second.
Tied in all six of the first tiebreakers: group stage points (four), goal difference (even), goals scored in group matches (four), head-to-head result (a draw), head-to-head differential and head-to-head goals.
Forcing FIFA to go to their new fair play tiebreaker that determines which team will advance based on the number of yellow cards the team has accrued up until that point.
Japan had four yellow cards and Senegal had six.
Japan advances making Senegal the first team eliminated from a World Cup due to FIFA’s fair play tiebreaker.
For most Americans, if you’re not a die-hard soccer fan, it’s generally hard to wake up at five in the morning for anything more over a soccer game especially when the U.S. soccer team isn’t present.
“The team kinds of sets up everything in terms of viewing in the U.S.A.,” West Ranch boys soccer coach Louis Mogrovejo said. “I give my boys two random teams and have them watch their games just to expose them to new players and teams.”
Regardless of whether or not Team USA is in the tournament, Hart girls soccer coach Guilherme Mitrovitch thinks there is a World Cup fanbase in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“I think Santa Clarita is a big soccer community with club, high school and AYSO going on so there are a lot of people that want to watch,” said Mitrovitch. “With the time difference, it has been more difficult to watch, but I do think that in Santa Clarita there is a hunger for something else that presents another option and getting the word out there.”
With a growing support of soccer enthusiasts in the SCV, here are some places where you can catch the rest of the World Cup:
Brewery Draconum – 24407 Main Street (661) 568-9160
“As long as there’s interest and people want to come and watch we will try to open up,” said co-owner Ben Law. “It’s something that we want to help promote because it’s a cool sport and the popularity is growing. I’ve even heard of people driving to Hollywood.”
Schooners Patio Grille – 22903 Soledad Canyon Road (661) 388-4765
”We are watching it for the most part, but it’s not that big of a crowd,” said bar manager Hector Sosa. “At the end of the day, it’s a great place to watch the games with our selection of 24 beers.”
The Dudes Brewing Company – 24250 Town Center Dr. (661) 263-5133
“We have a huge projector screen and five TV’s available and will offer happy hour pricing during the World Cup games,” said lead beertender Bobby Egan. “We have drinking games like beer pong, corn hole and we even allow you to take our four core beers to go.”
The World Cup resumes on Saturday at as the Top two players in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will look to advance. In the first game at 7 a.m., a young and talented French team takes on Messi and his band of Argentines. The second game will feature the top team out of Group A, as undefeated Uruguay will face-off against the defending European Champions Portugal.