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!
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.
Welcome to the first edition of the newest FCDallas.com series "Getting Personal". A new post will be released every Wednesday starring a different player each week. The purpose of the posts are to allow fans to get to know their FC Dallas players a little better on a more personal level that may or may not have to do directly with soccer. For this week's edition, I caught up with defender Zach Loyd.
Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Zach is one of four sons. He attended the University of North Carolina while also playing in the USL Premier Development League for Carolina Dynamo. Loyd was drafted fifth overall in the first round in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by FC Dallas. He made his professional debut on April 10 of that same year. In 2011, Loyd played for the U.S. National team in a friendly match against Chile where he started at left-back and was honored as the Budweiser Man of the Match. In the most recent offseason, he re-signed a multi-year contract with FC Dallas.
- Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
Zach: I'm not really superstitious but I listen to praise and worship music before every game.
- What's your favorite movie?
Zach: Shawshank Redemption and Troy. We'll stick with that.
- How many tattoos do you have and which one hurt the most?
Zach: I have no idea, a lot, but the one that hurt the most was the inside of my arm during the shading or my elbow. They all have special meaning to me.
- Favorite sports team?
Zach: The Cowboys. Big football fan. I'm from Tulsa so you're either a Chiefs fan or a Cowboys fan and my family was for the Cowboys.
- What's one thing that you'll splurge your money on?
Zach: Probably nothing. My wife spends all the money.
- Speaking of your wife, what's it like having a wife [Former USWNT player Casey Loyd [Nogueira] that is as good at soccer as you are?
Zach: It's awesome. We play soccer and tennis together and I can't beat her it's so frustrating but it's great because we can go and do a lot of stuff together.
- Favorite super hero?
Zach: The hulk, I like the hulk. My son has the big hulk hands.
- What's your earliest soccer memory?
Zach: Playing for the hotshots for my dad when I was 6. We had bright yellow jerseys so it matched our name. That's pretty much all I remember.
- Would you rather be 4 foot 5 inches or 7 foot 7 inches?
Zach: 7 foot 7 because I could play basketball and be guaranteed a contract.
Check back next Wednesday for the next edition of "Getting Personal".
Matt Hedges has started every match and played every minute of the season for FC Dallas this year, but he hasn't made a save like the one he did on Saturday. After some magic from Earthquakes attacker Yannick Djalo, San Jose's Steven Lenhart headed a looping ball over Chris Seitz that looked destined for the back of the net, but Hedges was the man on the spot to clear away a certain goal.
Hedges' clearance is up for MLSsoccer.com Save of the Week so head over there and vote Hedges!
WATCH: SOTW Week 13
The calendar has turned and that means it's time to release the next edition in our Scarf of the Month line. With the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off this month, naturally June's scarf has a World Cup theme.
The limited-edition scarf shows your support for club and country all at the same time. One side displays "USA" and "FC Dallas" in red, white and blue - the colors of the USMNT and FCD - while the reverse side reads, "One Heart, Two Teams" in yellow, green and blue - the colors of World Cup host nation, Brazil.
This is sure to be one of our fastest-selling scarves of the year, so order yours today before they sell out!
In preparation for their August 9th game against the Colorado Rapids, our FC Dallas Special Olympics Texas team came up to Toyota Stadium for an afternoon of fun and practice on Thursday, May 28.
The day started out with a media day round of pictures and video capture exactly like what our professional players go through before the season starts. Each of the players took headshots and filmed intros that will be used before their game on August 9. After that, each member of the team joined FC Dallas President Dan Hunt to sign official contracts naming them as official FC Dallas players.
The players then headed out to the field to begin their training session led by Oscar Pareja, Stephen Keel, Nick Walker and David Texeira. The training session quickly became a heated game as both sides played to a draw that ended with a penalty kick shootout!
Join us on August 9th as our Special Olympics team plays the Colorado Rapids directly following the match between the FCD and Rapids MLS teams!
SEGMENT 1: Stein and Steve set the table for a special 90-minute edition of Soccer Today that's teeming with World Cup talk.
SEGMENT 2: U.S. national team legend Paul Caligiuri makes his Soccer Today debut to relive his World Cup glory days and take stock of the current squad.
SEGMENT 3: ESPN's one and only Ian Darke joins the guys by phone just over two hours before calling the USA v Turkey World Cup warmup match in New Jersey. What a gent!
SEGMENT 4: Stein and Steve dig into the ongoing debate about the new diamond formation Jurgen Klinsmann has been using as the World Cup draws near.
SEGMENT 5: Soccer Today moves into a bonus half-hour with style when the legendary Andres Cantor from Telemundo and Futbol De Primera sits down with Stein for a visit while in Dallas.
SEGMENT 6: Concerns about the U.S. backline and the form of American strikers -- as well as the obvious need to stay healthy -- dominate the final segment of the show.