2014 World Cup Group B
How they got here: Finished second in CONMEBOL qualifying just two points behind Argentina
2010 World Cup: DNP
Best case: Colombia should advance from this managable group despite the loss of Falcao but a Round of 16 matchup against either England, Italy or Uruguay will pose problems. Playing in the tougher half of the bracket, a quarterfinal apperance is as much as Los Cafeteros can hope for.
Worst case: The stage is just a little too big for a Colombian team appearing in their first Mundial in 16 years. The loss to Falcao and a draw against Greece in their first match dooms Colombia to a first round exit.
Player to watch: With Falcao now definitely out of the tournament, Colombia will need someone to step up at forward and Jackson Martinez could be the man for the job. The big, strong forward has been an absolute goal machine at all three stops in his career including 46 goals in the last two seasons at Porto. A big World Cup could see him make the move to one of the top clubs in the world.
X Factor: The biggest questions for Colombia are in the back and whether they can hold teams off the board. In his prime, Mario Yepes was one of the best defenders in the world and now 38 years old, Colombia will be hoping to get one last hurrah out of the center back.
How they got here: Finished second in their UEFA qualifying group defeating Romania in a two-legged playoff.
2010 World Cup: Fell in the group stage winning once and losing twice.
Best case: Greece has never advanced out of the group stage at the World Cup and the only way they will this time is if they can repeat their defensive efforts of 10 years ago in the 2004 European Championships. Sneaking through with four points and a neutral goal difference is about the best they can hope for.
Worst case: A mis-firing Kostas Mitroglu is unable to find the back of the net and Greece exits the tournament with only a point.
Player to watch: Giorgious Karagounis is the Greece captain and an absolute soccer legend. A pitbull of a midfielder, Karagounis has been the heart and soul of the Greece National Team and now 37 years old, this will be his final spotlight on the world stage.
X Factor: The previously mentioned Mitroglu has a prolific scoring record in the Champions League over the last year and for an aging Greece attack, they'll need Mitroglu to pull out some heroics to have any chance.
How they got here: Defeated Senegal in two-leg playoff after winning their CAF qualifying group
2010 World Cup: Barely missed out on advancing out of their group with Brazil and Portugal.
Best case: Ivory Coast could be the real surprise team of this tournament and advance a long ways. I back them to advance from this group and a round of 16 match against either England, Italy or Uruguay would be fascinating. Much like Colombia, the quarterfinals isn't out of reach for the Elephants.
Worst case: Didier Drogba can't quite reach his world class level again and the rough-and-tumble style of Ivory Coast picks up a crucial red card early in one of their games to doom them to another group stage exit.
Player to watch: Gervinho had arguably his best season as a professional finishing tied at the top of Serie A assist leaders and we saw it first hand with his goal and assist vs El Salvador at Toyota Stadium. He's quite simply one of the best wingers in the world right now.
X Factor: How healthy is Yaya Toure? He didn't play in either of Ivory Coast's American tour games and his status will go a long way to determining how the Elephants will do. Arguably the best two-way midfielder in the world, Toure has the ability to carry this team on his back...if his legs can support them.
How they got here: Easily qualified from their AFC qualifying group.
2010 World Cup: Defeated Cameroon & Denmark en route to the round of 16 where they fell to Paraguay on penalty kicks.
Best case: Japan has been working towards a quarterfinal appearance for the last decade and they have the talent and experience to get there. Could be another dark horse like Ivory Coast and Colombia.
Worst case: The Japanese have done poorly in the World Cup following their round of 16 appearances and their disastrous 2013 Confederations Cup throws up a huge red flag that perhaps Brazil won't go too well for them. In a group where anyone could advance, Japan might be the ones who suffer.
Player to watch: Keisuke Honda has been the Japanese attacking engine for what seems like years. He was spectacular scoring two goals in the 2010 World Cup and has finally settled his club situation after moving to AC Milan in the winter.
X Factor: Shinji Kagawa struggled to break into the Manchester United first team, but his attacking talent is unquestioned. If he can prove to be a successful foil to Honda and take some defensive pressure off him, Japan should find the goals to advance through the group stage.
Ivory Coast 1st, Colombia 2nd, Japan 3rd, Greece 4th
For me this is by far the toughest group to predict with probably the most diverse four teams in the tournament.
Perhaps I'm biased because we saw them up close right here in Frisco, but Ivory Coast is such a formidable team and with two prior World Cups under their belt, they now have the experience to know exactly what it takes to succeed on soccer's biggest stage.
It's tough for me to go against Colombia at least advancing from the group in South America which leaves Japan as the odd man out. Their 2013 Confederations Cup disaster really scares me and even though on paper they might be the most talented team in the group, I think they'll crash out with a Greece team that simply can't score enough goals.
Hear from Oscar Pareja, Fabian Castillo and Zach Loyd after FC Dallas' 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids.
Here's what FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja told the media after Saturday's 3-2 win over Colorado:
Here's your match highlights from Saturday's huge 3-2 win over Colorado:
WORLD CUP GROUP PREVIEWS: GROUP A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H
2014 World Cup Group B
How they got here: Finished second in qualifying group
2010 World Cup: Eliminated in group stage
Best case: Australia saves some face by winning a game in the group. There's really no scenario where they'll make it through this group, but a win would be a definite positive.
Worst case: The Socceroos seem the odds on favorite to lose all three games in this group and could go home with a last place next to their names.
Player to watch: Check out Aussie winger Tommy Oar. The attacker is one of the few players on the Australia squad that has the potential to go to a top team in Europe and after another solid season at FC Utrecht could see his stock rise with a good touranment.
X Factor: Tim Cahill is now 34 and not the player he once was, but for Australia to pull a shock result against one of the big three in the tournament, he's one of the few players that could find that goal.
How they got here: Finished 3rd out of 9 teams in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying earning an automatic qualification spot.
2010 World Cup: Fell in the round of 16 to Brazil after defeating Switzerland & Honduras to advance out of the group stage.
Best case: Many love Chile as a dark horse to advance quite a long ways in the tournament. If they can win the group and avoid Brazil, which is certainly a possibility, a quarterfinal finish isn't impossible.
Worst case: Chile fails to cope with the high-powered European teams and falls in their games against Holland & Spain, thus being eliminated in the group stage which would be a disappointment for La Roja.
Player to watch: Arturo Vidal is an absolute monster of a two-way midfielder at the heart of the Chile side. The Juventus man is one of two truly world class players on the Chile roster and when he's on, Vidal is perhaps the best combination of attack and defense in a midfielder on the planet.
X Factor: Alexis Sanchez will feel no pressure going up against the Spanish as he faces them every week in La Liga play with Barcelona. You can certainly see Sanchez as the player who unlocks defenses for La Roja.
How they got here: Obliterated their qualifying group, winning nine out of ten matches and finishing with 28 out of a possible 30 points.
2010 World Cup: Advanced all the way to the final before losing to Spain 1-0 in extra time.
Best case: Should Netherlands win the group, the road to the semifinals isn't terribly difficult for the Oranje. A potential round of 16 against Mexico and quarterfinal against Italy won't scare Louis Van Gaal's side too much.
Worst case: Robin Van Persie fails to reach good form, one of the oft-injured Dutch wingers picks up a knock and the rest of a young squad fails to gel as the Oranje fall in a tough group.
Player to watch: Feynoord central midfield Jordy Clasie could be the next big name in European soccer. The 22-year-old has started nearly every match for the Dutch giants in his last three seasons and could be on the brink of a big-money European move with a solid tournament.
X Factor: As Robin Van Persie goes, so will Holland. They'll really be looking to outscore teams rather than defend tightly in Brazil and if RVP can't find the goals, it's going to be really tough on the Dutch.
How they got here: Easily qualified from a group containing France and three also-rans.
2010 World Cup: Won their first World Cup in a 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the final.
Best case: La Furia Roja continues their span of world domination, winning their third straight international tournament. There's not much left to prove for Vicente Del Bosque's side and a second World Cup solidifies this as one of the all-time special groups in world soccer history.
Worst case: What was a thrilling and innovative squad in their prime in 2010 becomes an outdated, aging and easy-to-defend side in 2014. Netherlands finds revenge against Spain in their opening match and a draw against Chile makes the final match against minnows Australia a meaningless match.
Player to watch: Diego Costa has just one cap for the Spanish side, but he may be the most important player in 2014. The defense and midfield have unquestioned talent, but if a 32- year-old David Villa and out-of-form Fernando Torres can't get the job done up front, this naturalized Brazilian will be huge to Spain's hopes of repeating as champions.
X Factor: Does Andres Iniesta have even more top level soccer in him? At 30, he's starting to show signs of his age and having played so much soccer over the last four years, you wonder if it's starting to wear on him a little bit and whether he can be at the level he once was.
Spain 1st, Chile 2nd, Netherlands 3rd, Australia 4th
This one is really three teams for two spots with Chile, Spain and Netherlands battling it out. The question becomes which team is most likely to falter and I think it's going to be the Netherlands.
It's just so tough to go against a team like Chile in Brazil and I can't see how Spain doesn't make it out of the group. Netherlands and Chile play on the final day of their group stage and that's likely to be an all-out war to see who advances with Spain to likely face Brazil in the round of 16.
Let us know in the poll who you think will advance and be sure to listen to the podcast above to hear Kevin Hartman's thoughts on the group.
Hear from Oscar Pareja, Walker Zimmerman & Chris Seitz on Saturday's game vs Colorado:
Check out our Toyota Keys to the Match for Saturday's big game against Colorado:
FC Dallas plays the Colorado Rapids Saturday night at Toyota Stadium in their first meeting of the 2014 season. The two teams met three times last season with FCD winning the first, drawing in the second match, and losing the third. Here's a look back at the previous season series:
WATCH: FCD 1, COL 0
Game 1 - March 2nd, 2013 - FC Dallas 1, Colorado 0: In the 11th minute, backup goalkeeper Steward Ceus left his box which allowed Jackson an easy goal from a long ball that David Ferreira played. Jackson almost doubled FCD's lead in the 18th minute when he shot a ball from 30 yards out that looked as if it went in the goal but only found the side netting. Former FCD player Atiba Harris almost made the match even in the 58th minute for the Rapids but failed to send his shot from 25 yards out into the goal.
WATCH: FCD 2, COL 2
Game 2 - June 1, 2013 - FC Dallas 2, Colorado 2: The first 50 minutes were rather quiet for both teams until a ten minute span in the second half saw four goals. Marvell Wynne's throw in near the touchline headed straight for the center of the box which was then headed into the goal by Harris in the 56th minute. Five minutes later, FCD replied when Harris' attempted header to clear a Dallas cross from Michel, found Blas Perez who found the corner of the goal.
Colorado answered FCD's reply when Rapids Chris Klute sent a looping cross into the box which Harris then converted into a simple goald for his second goal of the game. The last goal of the game came soon after when an FCD cross into the box found Perez once again who finished with a shot from 20 yards out.
WATCH: FCD 1, COL 2
Game 3 - September 14, 2013 - Colorado 2, FC Dallas 1: The game was scoreless until halftime but not for a lack of chances. In the 51st minute, Jair Benitez sent a cross to Ferriera in the box who finished for a short range goal. A few minutes later two FCD defenders attempted to clear a Klute cross into the box but the ball came right to Sanchez on the left side of the penalty box which he then sent into the goal. Six minutes after their equalizing goal, Sanchez driblled around FCD defender George John and delivered a cross in front of the goal that defender Hedges accidentally tipped into his own goal.
FC Dallas returns to Toyota Stadium on Saturday night for the final home match before we kick off the 2014 FIFA World Cup and we're getting ready for the world's biggest sporting event in style.
Gates open at a special 4:30PM time for Saturday's game as we'll be showing the USA's final World Cup sendoff match against Nigeria kicking off at 5:00PM on a portable jumbotron on the north concourse as well as offering $1 tacos(while supplies last) and $4 beer in the El Jimador Cantina until 6:30PM before transitioning straight from the USMNT into FCD's big match against Colorado at 7:30 on the Toyota Stadium pitch.
If you haven't got your ticket yet for Saturday's match, secure yours right here.
We'll see you out here Saturday night as we celebrate both club and country with FC Dallas taking on Colorado in the final home MLS match before July 4 and watch the USA take on Nigeria in the final tuneup before heading down to Brazil.
Welcome to the 2nd edition of the FCDallas.com series “Getting Personal”. This week I caught up with Jamaican midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson.
Je-Vaughn was born in Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica and started playing soccer at the age of eight. He turned professional in 2005 and spent his first six years playing in the Jamaican Premier league with Sporting Central Academy. In the 2011 pre-season, Watson signed with the Houston Dynamo. He was traded to FC Dallas in February of 2013 where he made 24 appearances for FCD and scored two goals for the season. Watson made 10 appearances for Jamaica during the 2014 World Cup Qualifying cycle.
- What's one thing about Jamaica that people who aren't from there don't know?
Je-Vaughn: We're a loving people, we like to have fun and we love to party.
- What's your earlist soccer memory?
Je-Vaughn: Probably when I was about 13. That was the first time I was called up for the Jamaican U14 national team. That was a wonderful experience. The first game I play, I was bigger than most of the other guys and I scored twice in my first game.
- What's your favorite place that you've visited and why?
Je-Vaughn: Paris, it's pretty and the people are friendly. I would like to go back sometime.
- All time favorite music artists?
Je-Vaughn: Bob Marley, Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac, Drake, and on the girls side Beyonce and Nicki Minaj. I went to a Beyonce and Jay-Z concert in Houston it was really good.
- Would you rather be 4 foot 5 or 7 foot 7?
Je-Vaughn: Definitely 7 foot 7.
- What was it like growing up in Jamaica?
Je-Vaughn: It was nice. I grew up with a big Christian family. Every Sunday we'd have to go to church or else we'd get a whooping. I go to church here when I have time. My mom will call me and say "why aren't you going to church??"
- Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Je-Vaughn: That's a lot of years to go, but I will probably be playing soccer if it's God's will. I want to be playing soccer. I enjoy scoring and meeting fans after games. But if not I'll be sitting home with my kids enjoying life after soccer and saving money so I can live good.
- What's one thing you'll splurge your money on?
Je-Vaughn: Shoes. I got a lot of Gucci and Louis Vuitton shoes.
- So you have a good shoe game?
Je-Vaughn: Yeah I got a good shoe game. It doesn't matter the cost, I'll pay for it.
- What's your best scar and what's the story behind it?
Je-Vaughn: The only scar I have is my arm. I was in Jamaica playing and someone tackled me and I fell on my arm and it broke in two so I had to have surgey and they put metal in my arm.
- So when you go through a metal detector your arm sets it off --
Je-Vaughn: Yeah exactly or when it gets cold out it's weird.