The World Cup is just one week away!
We're so excited here at FCDallas.com to share the world's biggest sporting event with you here in Dallas as we hold our World Cup Tour pres. by McDonalds and look to give out $1 million to anyone who can correctly predict what will happen in Brazil.
To get you ready for the tournament, we'll be bringing you short little breakdowns of each World Cup group over the next week as well as quick 10-15 minute podcasts with myself and former FCD goalkeeper and current TV analyst Kevin Hartman talking about the groups that we'll be watching over the next month in Brazil. Here's your group A breakdown, check FCDallas.com on the daily as we release more group previews.
2014 World Cup Group A
How they got here: Automatic qualifier as host country
2010 World Cup: Winners of Group G - Eliminated in QF by Holland
Best case: Lifting the trophy at the Maracana on July 13. The combination of talent & home country familiarity makes A Seleção the favorites.
Worst case: Brazil will have no problem navigating the group stage, but a round of 16 exit is a real possibility with a match against either Spain, Netherlands or Chile from Group B looming.
Player to watch: Who else but Neymar? From a commercial sense, Neymar has been named the most marketable athlete in the world and he backs it up on the field. The 22-year-old eliminated any fears that pressure would be too much for him after scoring four goals in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
X Factor: An aging Brazil squad will need a 22-year-old Chelsea midfielder to play up to his full potential if they want to lift the trophy. The great Tim Vickery says it a lot better than I could.
How they got here: Defeated Tunisia in two-leg playoff after winning qualifying group.
2010 World Cup: Last in Group E - Lost all three group stage matches.
Best case: Cameroon finds a way to defeat Mexico in their first game and squeak through the group stage to their first knockout round since 1990
Worst case: Another winless group stage is certainly a possibility with three matches in which they'll be the underdog.
Player to watch: Vincent Aboubakar lit up Ligue 1 in 2013-2014 scoring 16 goals for his new club Lorient. With an aging Samuel Eto'o unable to produce his heroics on a consistent basis, the Indomitable Lions will need the 22-year-old to step up.
X Factor: Former Aston Villa midfielder Jean Makoun has run the show in midfield for Cameroon and he's one of their only truly world class players.
How they got here: Defeated Iceland in two-leg playoff after finishing second in qualifying group.
2010 World Cup: DNQ
Best case: Croatia has the talent, if they can stay healthy, to finish second in this group and even shock a round of 16 opponent to advance to the quarterfinals.
Worst case: A key player for Croatia goes down early and their thin depth is immediately tested. If the Europeans can't get past Mexico, they have little to no chance of advancing.
Player to watch: Attacking midfielder Ivan Rakitic is one of the hottest names in Europe for a big money transfer this summer. The Valencia midfielder led his squad to the Europa League scoring 15 goals this season in all competitions.
X Factor: Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic can be among the world's best when in good form, but he struggled to hold a starting spot at the German giants this season. He's one of the few on Croatia with experience at the highest levels of Europe and has the potential to lead the red and white to the knockout round.
How they got here: Defeated New Zealand in two-leg intercontinental playoff after finishing fourth in CONCACAF qualifying
2010 World Cup: Fell to Argentina in Round of 16 - Finished second in Group A being Uruguay
Best case: The pieces come together for Miguel Herrera's side to advance from a relatively easy group and they advance to the round of 16 for the sixth straight year. It's tough to find any scenario where Mexico defeats one of the three big members of Group B in the round of 16.
Worst case: An inconsistent squad falls to Cameroon in the first match, gets blown out by Brazil in match two and has nothing to play for once Croatia comes calling.
Player to watch: Oribe "El Cepillo" Peralta is a forward comparable to Chris Wondolowski who has always been lethal in his domestic league but only recently broke through to score goals for the national team. He finds himself in good spaces and has a rocket of a shot when you give him the opportunity.
X Factor: It has to be Chicharito. His struggles at Manchester United last season were well documented, but the fact remains that when he's on, he's a world class forward. For Mexico to have any chance of advancing past the round of 16, Javier Hernandez will need to have a good tournament and potentially earn United a lot of money in transfer fees.
It's time for the first group prediction. For me, this group comes down to the Mexico vs Croatia matchup. Goal difference could be huge going into that match and it's very possible that whoever loses to Brazil by fewer goals will have the upper hand heading into that third group stage match and personally, I'm going to have to stick with Mexico for this one.
I really wouldn't want to be Croatia with that first World Cup match against Brazil next Thursday. You know they're going to come out guns blazing and for me, Mexico is going to have just enough to sneak through in second place on goal differential.
Have your say in the poll and check back soon for our Group B preview!
FRISCO - Tomorrow in Lisbon, another UEFA Champions League winner will be crowned and perhaps the biggest Atletico Madrid fan lives right here in Frisco and patrols the midfield for FC Dallas.
Midfielder Peter Luccin, who was back on the bench for FC Dallas in Wednesday's loss in Los Angeles after missing the last six weeks with a leg injury, spent three years with Los Colchoneros from 2004-2007, having played with current Atletico coach Diego "Cholo" Simeone in that first 2004-2005 season.
"I played for years at Atletico Madrid and I can’t explain what is happening over there because they have very, very good players," Luccin said after training a couple weeks ago. "But for me it’s a team thing and a “Simeone” thing, the coach who does a very good job."
Last Saturday at the historic Nou Camp in Barcelona, Atleti won La Liga for the first time since 1996 with a 1-1 draw against Barcelona and Luccin says a third team infringing on the normal big two of Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spanish soccer is definitely a good thing.
"It’s always been just two teams, but it’s good for the champoinship because last year it was so easy. It’s Real Madrid and Barcelona 20 points ahead," said Luccin. "So now we know and understand there’s another team. It’s amazing, but Atletico Madrid is a very good and historic team. Now the thing is changing and it’s good for the championship."
As for Simeone, currently the toast of European soccer, Luccin says that his teammates always knew the man known as "Cholo" would one day be a manager.
"I played one year with him and he was an aggressive player, a very passionate player and of course I could see he would be a coach one day," said Luccin. "Everyone thought he would be a coach. He does a very very good job…we can see 11 players running 90 minutes and it’s not easy. There’s good technique, but the fitness is so important with that team."
Looking ahead to Saturday's UEFA Champions League Final, the man who spent a good portion of his life in Madrid says he's happy that both the city's teams are in the final and, surprisingly said he likes both teams. However, there's no question who Luccin is cheering for on Saturday.
"I’m a big, big, big fan. It’s a little bit strange to say I like both teams, but I’m happy to see both teams in the final," said Luccin. "It’s strange. If you talked to any Atletico fan, it would be hard, but me, I like Madrid. I like the city so I like both teams but I want to see Atletico Madrid win the Champions League
It's a quick turnaround this weekend as FCD plays at RSL on Saturday night. Here's your Toyota Keys to the Match:
Scott & Daniel break down the biggest talking points in tonight's match vs LA Galaxy with our Toyota Keys to the Match:
FC Dallas plays the LA Galaxy tomorrow night at the StubHub Center in their first meeting of the 2014 season. The Galaxy will be without forward Landon Donovan and defender Omar Gonzalez due to the US Mens National Team World Cup committments. The two teams met three times last season with FCD winning the first, losing in the second, and drawing in the third. Here is a recap of all three games:
WATCH: FCD 1, LAG 0
Game 1 - April 13th, 2013 - FC Dallas 1, LA Galaxy 0: FCD held their own at home but the lone goal didn't come until late in the second half. Neither team had a shot on target in the first half.
The game started to get interesting in the second half when in the 60th minute, LA defender Leonardo received a red card for taking down FCD forward Blas Perez in the box. However, Galaxy goalkeeper Cudicini was able to guess correctly and stop Kenny Cooper's penalty kick. With LA a man down, they earned their own penalty kick when George John fouled LA forward Jose Villareal in the opposite box. Landon Donovan stepped up to take the penalty kick but Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez was able to save it.
Finally in the 87th minute, FCD defender George John scored when Eric Hassli's header rebounded off the crossbar, moving Dallas to 5-1-1 on the young season, solidifying their 1st place position.
WATCH: LAG 2, FCD 0
Game 2 - July 7, 2013 - FC Dallas 0, LA Galaxy 2: FCD took a trip to the West Coast for the second meeting of the season needing a win to be even with Western Conference leader Real Salt Lake.
The first half was even once again with LA's first goal coming in the second half in the 65th minute when Marcelo Sarvas headed home a Robbie Keane cross. The second goal came in the 80th minute when Hector Jimenez sent home a ball from Robbie Rogers from the left byline. LA outshot Dallas 22-6 with FCD's only close call coming in the 78th minute with a 28 yard shot by Jackson Goncalves that LA goalkeeper was able to save. The loss was Dallas' sixth-straight game without a win.
WATCH: FCD 3, LAG 3
Game 3 - August 11th, 2013 - FC Dallas 3, LA Galaxy 3: The third game of the series drew a crowd of 18,161 at home and they certainly got their money's worth. Dallas ended their franchise-record scoreless streak in the 14th minute off a corner kick by David Ferreira. The ball found John and the defender headed it down in front of the goal as LA's keeper Cudicini tripped. Matt Hedges then had no problem heading home the loose ball to give Dallas the lead. However, the lead was short lived as Robbie Keane sent a looped ball over the top that Donovan headed just over Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
FCD scored again just three minutes into the second half when Michel supplied a set piece that Perez was able to toe-poke in the goal past the LA keeper. LA answered Dallas' second goal in the 73rd minute when Donovan hit a bouning ball from 19 yards out that was able to squeeze by Seitz. Donovan scored for a third time when minutes later he beat John to a loose ball in the box and with ease put the ball into the far corner. LA's lead didn't last long as Perez scored the equalizer in the 86th minute off a failed clearance on another Michel free kick.
MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek & Matt Doyle break down the key points of Saturday's game:
Saturday's match against Chivas USA is the second opponent this season that FC Dallas will be seeing for the second time in 2014 after facing Seattle for the second time last week.
Last time out, FC Dallas and Chivas USA played to a physical, rough-and-tumble, 3-1 win for FC Dallas. After a relatively dull first half, the match sprang to life in the second half as Mauro Diaz, Hendry Thomas and Fabian Castillo combined to produce the first goal of the match in the 71st minute.
Just seven minutes later, a trademark pass from Diaz sprang Je-Vaughn Watson free on goal and the Jamaican made no mistake rounding Dan Kennedy and scoring to put Dallas up 2-0. Things got interesting just a few minutes later as Erick "Cubo" Torres pulled Chivas USA within a goal at 2-1, but Michel's late free kick goal sealed all three points for FC Dallas who are 6-2-6 all-time against Chivas USA at home.
Saturday's final visit from Chivas USA kicks off at 7:30PM and tickets can be purchased here(TICKETS - FC Dallas vs Chivas USA - Saturday, May 17, 7:30PM ).
Here's your Toyota Keys to the Match for Saturday's game vs Chivas USA:
Hear from Danny Garcia, Walker Zimerman and Oscar Pareja on Wednesday's game in Seattle:
It's FCD's first midweek game of the season tonight against Seattle Sounders FC! Check out our Toyota Keys to the Match: