How to Do a World Cup Bracket
How to Do a World Cup Bracket
The World Cup comes around every four years. If you didn't make a World Cup bracket this time, use this guide so you're more prepared in 2022 or make half a bracket now. Goal!
Keyword(s): world cup bracket
Doing your World up bracket is serious business. It doesn't matter if you have $5 on the line or just pride, you want to win.
During one month every four years, everything stops for soccer. In Iceland, a nation of 330,000 people, 99.6% of people in Iceland watched Iceland's World Cup opener.
It makes you wonder what the .04% of people who weren't watching were doing.
In Mexico, fans gathered in Mexico City to watch their team take on Germany. When Mexico scored, fans were so happy that they set off earthquake sensors.
Even if you're a little late to the World Cup fun, it's not too late to fill out your bracket for 2018. FIFA offers a bracket challenge for each stage of the competition.
You can take those lessons to France in 2019 and Qatar in 2022.
Read on to learn how you can fill out your World Cup bracket to win.
Don't Get Sucked in By the Name
There are historical powers in soccer. Traditionally strong teams like Italy, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Germany are usually sure bets to go through to the knockout stages.
Or are they?
Italy and the Netherlands didn't even qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina only qualified thanks to a last-gasp hat trick by Leo Messi.
You might be tempted to look at your World Cup bracket and pick these 'sure bets' to go through.
Don't do it.
There's a better way to look at your bracket objectively and pick the best teams to go through.
Don't Listen to the "Experts"
Everyone is an expert when it comes to soccer.
It could be the guy at your office who thinks that just because a player has an English accent, he's a superstar.
The pundits don't know any more than you do.
It might be tempting to look at the expert picks, but the reality is that you're better off ignoring them and taking an objective look at each team.
Take the Whole Team into Account
Just as you shouldn't get drawn to a team because they have a long history, you shouldn't get drawn to a team just because they have one great player.
Portugal relies on Cristiano Ronaldo to score goals, and he's one of the all-time greats. He'd also be the first to say that he can't do it alone.
Argentina is the Leo Messi show. If you look at that roster, they should be amazing. Yet, they struggled to qualify.
The media tend to focus on a team's star players. You have to remember that just because a team has one good player, it doesn't mean that they're going to get out of the Group Stage.
Soccer is a team sport and it's beyond one single player. That single player can rarely have an impact if the coaching and supporting team members are sub-par.
It seems that in World Cups, there is at least one team that succumbs to the enormous pressure and has some kind of drama within the team.
2018 is no exception.
No one could have predicted that three days before Spain's first match, Spanish club powerhouse Real Madrid would announce that La Rioja's head coach Julen Lopetegui took the head coaching job at Real Madrid and would leave his position as Spain's National Team manager after the World Cup.
Even fewer people could have predicted that the newly elected president of the Real Federacion Espa?ola de Futbol would relieve Lopetegui of his position the next day and install a caretaker manager.
Under Lopetegui, Spain was one of the favorites heading into the 2018 World Cup. They were 14-0-6 under Lopetegui.
Team drama is something that you need to pay attention as you're picking your bracket. There are teams like the Netherlands and France that are well known for in-fighting.
In 2010, France flamed out of South Africa in spectacular fashion. Infighting took that team over and it left that competition in disgrace.
You'll want to follow the news in the months leading up to the World Cup for any signs of drama and infighting.
That's a good sign that the infighting will distract the players from performing at their best.
There's at Least One Cinderella Story
It seems that at every competition, there's at least one Cinderella story.
In Euro 2016, that was Iceland. They famously beat England in the Round of 16, which was the shock of the tournament.
When you pick your bracket, you can be sure there's going to be one team that comes out of nowhere to take over the competition. You won't even see them on the teams to watch list.
In 2014, it was Costa Rica. In 2010 Ghana made a statement.
Who will the next Cinderella be?
How Did the Team Qualify?
There's no way to tell how a team will do in a World Cup. However, recent past performance can be a predictor of
Look at how each team qualified. Did they struggle? Did they blow away the competition?
Take a look at the teams they played to qualify and the result. Also, take a look at friendly matches over the last year.
Those results are a good indication of the direction of the team. The team's recent performance is probably the best method to use when you're picking your bracket.
It does take a little time, but a winning World Cup bracket makes it worth it.
Get Your Kids Involved
You can make your bracket a family event.
Include your kids in filling out your bracket and ask for their opinions. They might choose teams based on kit colors.
It's an opportunity to teach them about the sport and you can share your love for the sport and continue to make soccer fun.
It's also good to remember that there's a Men's World Cup and a Women's World Cup. Set a good example for your kids and pick brackets for both competitions.
You'll also have to explain to your kids why the U.S. Women's National Team is a perennial favorite, while the men's side continues to struggle.
Make Your World Cup Bracket a Winner
Filling out a World Cup bracket is a fun way to get into the action. It's even more fun when you win.
As you're filling out the bracket, remember that anything can happen at a World Cup. That's true now more than ever.
The main thing to remember when you're filling out your bracket, you want to set aside the expert predictions and historical performance. Focus on the qualification process and have fun.
If you think that it's hard now, wait until 2026 when the competition expands from 32 to 48 teams. It's a World Cup and anything can happen.
Want to learn more about bringing the love of the game into your family?
Contact us today to learn about our academy and how we can help kids improve their soccer skills.
The Brain Benefits of Sports: Can Soccer Make You Smarter?
The Brain Benefits of Sports: Can Soccer Make You Smarter?
You know that exercise is good for your brain, but just how good is it? Learn what the mental benefits of sports are in this piece.
Keyword(s): benefits of sports
The 2018 World Cup has given us another chance to geek out about a sport most of us played when we were seven.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. Players like Messi and Ronaldo use their skills on the pitch to become celebrities. It's a fast-paced sport that's easy to understand, and thrilling to watch.
But did you know that soccer can actually make you smarter? One of the many benefits of sports is that it improves your brain power.
Since a soccer game is 90 minutes of pure cardio, you're basically training to be Einstein.
But how exactly does soccer make you smarter? Read on to find out.
Soccer Can Help Your Memory
Studies show that practicing sports can help improve your memory. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that regular exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. Scientists say that participating in moderate exercise for 120 minutes a week will improve your memory.
Let's say your child has a spelling test coming up. We all know that without spellcheck the only way to learn how to spell is memorization. If your child has been practicing soccer for thirty minutes a day, it could help them on the test. Studying helps too, but it's less fun than soccer.
Soccer Can Make You Smarter
Okay, that might be a stretch. But scientists have proven that exercise does help your problem-solving skills.
The benefits of sports come from its ability to get the blood flowing to your brain. This blood flow helps reduce insulin resistance, inflammation, and stimulates cell growth.
Getting blood pumping is important for bringing oxygen and nutrients to your body. When your brain has more blood flow then it's easier to support growth and maintenance of new brain cells. Keeping those brain cells alive makes it easier for you to process information and provide solutions.
Soccer Can Make You Less Stressed
If soccer can help improve brain function, stress is the easiest way of killing it.
Stress creates cortisol, a hormone that clouds our brains and makes it hard to think straight. Scientists have linked too much cortisol to anxiety. Anxiety is a disability that feels like it brings your rational brain to a screeching halt. Stress and anxiety also deplete the brain cells that help create new memories.
Regular exercise lowers cortisol levels, which reduces stress and anxiety. Studies have also found that it creates new cells that help create new memories.
So if you've been feeling stressed at work, or your child looks haggard after a test, break out the soccer ball. Remember, thirty minutes a day helps keep the blues away.
Soccer Makes You Happier
If you've ever seen Legally Blonde, you already know about this one. Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Despite the legal inaccuracies in this movie, they got that part right.
The science linking happiness and physical activity is exhaustive. They all say pretty much the same thing. Adults who report being happier are also the ones who exercise regularly.
It isn't only the brain chemicals that make us happier either. The benefits of sports on our health and sense of accomplishment go a long way towards happiness.
Team sports like soccer also help. They allow us to engage in physical activity while we socialize with other people. Socializing helps us create bonds with others. Studies linked a sense of community to a happier, healthier mindset.
Playing soccer with others can also help with your motivation. Exercise is difficult, and we'd all much rather sit inside and watch TV. But if we have other people depending on us, we're more likely to get out there and kick around a ball.
Soccer Sets Kids Up for Success in the Long Run
Every benefit of playing sports we mentioned applies to kids as well.
Regular exercise can stimulate brain cell growth. This growth is especially important for young minds. Sports also help them gain focus, which helps them succeed in the classroom. It'll help lower their cortisol levels. This will make it easier for them to work through problems and think clearly. Plus kids who exercise a lot early on tend to value exercise later in life.
Soccer will also teach them other important life lessons. It will give them a sense of community, which is vital for a child's healthy development.
Soccer also teaches children hard lessons, like how to stand up for themselves and lose well. Despite our best efforts, not every game is a win. Soccer teaches kids how to work hard and improve themselves. These are important lessons even if they never play soccer past high school.
Ready to See the Benefits of Sports in Your Child's Life?
If you're looking for a fun way to add the benefits of sports to your child's life, then sign them up for soccer. Our coaches will work with your kid to help them develop the skills they need to be successful.
For tips on how to prepare for tryouts, you can read our blog.
The Pros and Cons of Specializing in a Sport at a Young Age
The Pros and Cons of Sport Specialization at a Young Age
Are you thinking about helping your child specialize in a sport, but worried that they may be too young? Read on to learn the different pros and cons of sport specialization.
Keyword(s): Sport specialization
Once upon a time, kids who enjoyed playing sports would take part in several different sports throughout the course of the year. They would play football in fall, basketball in winter, and baseball in spring.
Then, they would repeat the process once fall came around again. It helped them get a feel for different sports and spread their athletic wings.
But in recent years, sport specialization is something that's become more and more common among kids. Nearly 50 percent of kids today specialize in playing just one sport and spend the entire year training for and playing it.
There are many pros and cons that come along with sport specialization. If you're thinking about having your child specialize in a sport, you should consider both sides before you do it.
Pro: Kids Can Perfect Their Skills in One Sport
The biggest advantage that comes along with sport specialization is that it will allow your child to devote all of their time to getting better at the sport of their choice.
Let's say they really love playing soccer. With sport specialization, they'll get the chance to put all of their focus on becoming a better soccer player.
They won't have to worry about putting their soccer cleats away in the winter so that they can focus on basketball. Instead, they'll spend their winter working on improving their skills so that they're ready to go once soccer season comes back around again.
By taking this approach, your child will be able to grow as a soccer player by leaps and bounds. It will put them in a better position to play soccer at the various levels and could even improve their chances of playing in college or in the pros one day.
Con: Kids Miss Out on Obtaining Other Athletic Skills
Thanks to sport specialization, your child will be able to perfect the skills that are necessary to excel in their favorite sport.
But one of the downsides of this is that they won't get the chance to work on perfecting their skills in other sports.
They might know how to kick a soccer ball into a net. But they won't necessarily know how to make a tackle on the football field or shoot a basketball through a hoop.
There are also some other sports your soccer-loving child might excel at, and those sports could ultimately help them pick up certain skills that would improve their skills on the soccer field.
For example, if your child chooses to run track during the offseason, it can help with speed and agility. Or if they play baseball, they'll be able to improve their hand-eye coordination.
Those who practice specialization sometimes miss out on the chance to add skills to their repertoire.
Pro: Kids Can Build Up Their Confidence Playing One Sport
There aren't many kids who are good at every sport they play. Every now and then, you'll come across a kid who is so athletic that he or she steals the spotlight in every arena.
But for the most part, your athletic child is probably going to be excellent at one sport and so-so at the others.
With sport specialization, your child will be able to take the sport they're most passionate about and use it to build up their confidence. They will practice hard, get good results on the field, and become more confident in their abilities.
But there is a chance that confidence could be shattered if they play another sport that they're not so good at. They might start to doubt themselves when they step outside of their preferred sport.
Con: Kids Tend to Get Tired of Playing One Sport All the Time
Most kids who enjoy playing sports enjoy playing more than just one.
But sport specialization can rob them of the opportunity to take part in a variety of different sports throughout the year.
As a result, kids can get burnt out over time and lose their love for their favorite sports. In some cases, kids will even quit a sport before they reach high school simply because they've had enough of it in elementary and middle school.
You should speak with your child about burnout and recognize that it's a very real thing. The last thing you want is to push your child too hard in one sport and have them come to hate it.
Pro: Kids Can Make Sure They Truly Love a Sport
While you do want to be careful with regards to burnout, sport specialization can give your child the chance to experience all a sport has to offer. This will allow them to see how much they actually love it.
When you play sports in college or at the pro level, you have to be ready to devote yourself to it. When you practice one sport from a young age, you'll show your devotion to your sport and prepare yourself for everything it will throw at you.
Con: Kids Can Suffer Overuse Injuries Playing Just One Sport
When kids only play one sport, they tend to use the same muscles over and over again when they're practicing and playing.
This can lead to overuse injuries that will put kids on the sidelines long before they should have to worry about injuries at all.
If your child uses one repetitive motion when playing sports--like pitching a baseball or softball--they could be at an increased risk for injury.
By encouraging them to play other sports throughout the year, you can give some of their muscles a break and allow them to develop in other ways.
Is Sport Specialization Right for Your Child?
Only you and your child can decide if sport specialization is the right choice for your family.
Whether you settle on it or not, you should think about enrolling your child in soccer to see what it has to offer. We can tell you all about the benefits of playing soccer with us and show you and your child how much fun soccer is.
Check out our blog to read some helpful soccer tips.
Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Soccer Tryouts
Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Soccer Tryouts
Are you nervous for your upcoming soccer tryouts? While nerves are completely natural, there are some things you can do to calm them and make sure you play your best game! Read on to learn the top 5 tips to prepare for soccer tryouts.
Keyword(s): Soccer tryouts; skw: soccer team tryouts, how to prepare for soccer tryouts
Did you know that several of the factors a coach is looking for during soccer tryouts have nothing to do with how you play the game?
Attitude, intelligence, and personality are high on the coach's radar.
But how can you show these traits during a 30-minute tryout, you ask?
Read on for our top 5 tips that will ensure you stand out from the rest at soccer tryouts.
1. Make an Impression From the Start
One of the best things you can do during soccer tryouts is to make the coach notice you before the tryouts even begin.
Arrive early. If you are there before the coach: bonus points. Don't stand around talking like some people may be doing. Grab a ball and a partner and start warming up with simple passes.
Right now is not the time to show off your best moves, but it is a great idea to show that you are there to work and eager to be there.
If the coach notices you from the first moment, your odds of him or her watching you more carefully during the tryout are good.
2. Jog Your Way Onto the Team
Another simple technique you can during soccer team tryouts is to jog instead of walk.
When it's time for a water break or a different drill station, jog your way over there.
The simple act of jogging shows your eagerness to be part of the team. It is a clear signal to the coach that you are willing, able and ready to work hard.
If most of the players are walking or sitting down, you jogging down the field will catch your coach's eye.
This is an easy thing you can do that shows your character. During soccer tryouts, coaches are not just looking for skills and technique but also good sportsmanship, work ethic and team playing. Jogging to and fro will let the coach know that you more than just a good player.
At least half of the impression you are making during soccer tryouts has to do with your personality and interpersonal skills, which are not related to your skills as a soccer player. There are so many soft skills and other benefits to playing soccer.
Don't waste an opportunity to show the coach what a valuable, cooperative and hard-working team player you will be on the team.
3. Don't be the Showoff
When drills start it may be tempting to go full tilt to show the coach what you've got.
But remember, soccer is a team sport. Don't be a ball hog in an attempt to impress the coach.
Find a balance between a showoff and a timid player who passes even when he or she has space to dribble.
During soccer tryouts, it's necessary to show that you are a well-balanced player. This means passing the ball when it's best for the team. Yet, also having the confidence and skills needed to win games.
There are also technical things you can work on to improve your chances of making the cut.
4. Up your Aim Game
Even though you don't know exactly what your soccer tryouts will entail, you can bet your bottom dollar that your coach will want to see you take shots.
To improve your aim and accuracy, find a pair of trees that are close together at a park or set up cones. Practice shots with both feet from all angles.
If you have a friend you can practice with, practice your corner kicks while she taps it in. Then switch places.
Next, practice taking shots while your friend plays the goalie.
The investment in time you make here will pay off huge and is one of the best ways you can prepare for soccer tryouts.
5. Start Sprint Training
During practice and games, you can expect to run non-stop for 40 minutes or longer!
Soccer plays run 7 miles per game on average. This is almost 6 miles more than football players run during their games.
You can train for this endurance feat through running through various soccer sprint drills.
Sprint training also builds muscles and burns fat. On the soccer field, this means that you aren't slowed down by extra weight. It also means that your core muscles fire better and work in unison to do what you need them to do.
During soccer tryouts, your coach will be looking for speed in all players. Sprint training will improve your speed monumentally.
Prep Your Mind
Often, the hardest part about soccer tryouts is getting your mind in the right space. Nerves, anxiousness, and a distracted mind are all factors that can work against you and be crippling during the intense pressure of performing.
This is especially true if this is your first time trying out or this is a team you want to get on and the stakes are high.
As soon as you become aware of the upcoming tryouts, begin preparing your mind.
If possible, go to the tryout location and visualize the day. Imagine yourself there with lots of other people and the eyes of the coach. Visualize yourself stopping an opponent's goal or bypassing a tough opponent.
Creative visualization is a well-researched and proven Psychology technique that helps people reach their goals.
Flood your mind with positive thinking. Imagine the nerves and then blow them out with your next out breath. Try to come up with a motivational saying or mantra that you can use when you are nervous to help you focus.
Even Olympic athletes use mantras before competing. Borrow a sports mantra from an Olympian or come up with one of your own. No matter what it is, choose something that speaks to you on a deep level.
Now is a good time to take up meditation or guided breathing. When your heart begins to race at tryouts, take a big, deep breath through the nose for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds.
Ready for Soccer Tryouts!
We hope you've found these soccer tryouts tips helpful. By preparing to impress, improving your technique and getting your mind ready you will have covered all the areas that a coach is looking for.
Good luck out there.
Next, read 8 soccer drills for kids.
Everything You Need to Know About Changes in Rules to the Header
Everything to Know About Changes in Rules to the Soccer Header
Wondering about the changes in the rules to the soccer header? If you're confused, keep reading. We've got everything you need to know about the change in rules!
Keyword(s): Soccer header
"Nearly 50,000 high school soccer players sustained concussions in 2010."
This statement was included in evidence presented during litigation against the United States Soccer Federation. The case has now resulted in sweeping changes to the rules surrounding the soccer header.
If you are a soccer player, or are a parent of a player, coach or referee you need to understand the changes. We've mapped them out for you here.
Why Change the Rules on the Soccer Header?
The United States Soccer Federation, FIFA, and the American Youth Soccer Organization were charged with negligence for not dealing with the problem of concussions in youth soccer. The parents and players brought a class-action in the U.S. District Court in California.
The case has now been dropped following the major changes made to the rules on heading the ball for children.
The high number of concussions seems to have been the main motivation behind the alterations. There were more concussions in football than in baseball, softball, wrestling, and basketball put together.
Evidence of the connection between soccer and brain injuries is continuing to build. A 2016 review of the scientific literature suggests that younger players may be at greater risk as they have weaker necks and a less-developed technique.
Some high-profile cases such as that of Taylor Twellman have also raised concerns. Twellman is one of the MLS all-time top goal scorers. But his untreated concussion injuries ended his career.
What are the Changes to the Rules?
The changes to the soccer header rules cover more than just heading. They are as follows.
There are also instructions to referees about how to apply the rules during the game. If a player heads the ball deliberately during the game they will award an indirect free kick.
The free kick will be taken at the point where the offense took place except when within the goal area. If inside the goal area the indirect free kick will be taken on the goal area line at the nearest point to where the offense took place.
Players who are suspected of having a head injury should be substituted right away for a check-up. This doesn't count towards the team's substitution allowance.
What Else Is Changing?
In addition to the rule changes on heading, there are wider changes taking place concerning player safety. The aim is to improve safety around concussion whether it occurs as a result of heading the ball or some other incident. The "Recognize To Recover" guidelines from United States Soccer is a significant safety education program on head and brain conditions.
The education is not just for soccer administrators. It's aimed at players, parents, coaches, and referees too. The program recognizes that all the stakeholders in the game of soccer have a contribution to make to player safety.
How Do Players Prevent Injury?
Injuries are less likely to occur if players have good technique and avoid dangerous play. Sportsmanship and respect for each other are also key values for players to hold. They improve safety in the game and in training.
Everybody should recognize when a player is injured. They should receive treatment and be removed from the game or training. Referees control the game and will let people know that a player is injured and have them removed from the game.
Players themselves should be aware of the risks and be able to look after their own safety. They need to recognize when they are injured and that they should be treated or leave the field of play. They need to listen to the referee, follow their instructions and also follow the rules of the game.
Players can protect themselves and others from injury and the long-term effects of a concussion. They should tell a parent or coach if they feel unwell. They should also do the same if they think a teammate has a concussion.
Head Injuries Are Serious
A concussion can happen as a result of heading the ball hard. It can also happen as a result of colliding with another player, the goal or even falling to the ground.
It's not just soccer header concussions that are the problem. Injuries may occur even if there has been no hit to the head. A collision with the body can also cause a concussion. The player does not need to have been knocked out to suffer a serious head injury.
Because head injuries are potentially serious players need to be open and honest about any injury. Enthusiasm for the game can sometimes lead to misplaced team loyalty and over-commitment. The long-term well-being of players is more important than any result.
What Are the Symptoms of Concussion?
The symptoms of a concussion vary from individual to individual. They may include a headache, pressure in the head, confusion, dizziness, or just not feeling right. These symptoms may not be noticed for some hours after the incident.
Don't try to play through an injury. Playing or training while suffering a concussion is dangerous. It can lead to other injuries, longer recovery time and delay getting back to playing.
What Can Parents Do?
As a parent, you should support the rules on soccer headers and the safety guidelines. You can be a role model for players. You should show respect for referees, coaches, other soccer players and other parents.
You should let the coach know about any injuries including a concussion from playing soccer or any other sport. Talk to your coach about concussion and be sure that they know what to do in the case of a suspected concussion. Check that they are committed to player safety over the game's result.
As a parent, you are well placed to recognize the symptoms of a concussion. Does your child seem confused? Have they had a change in attitude or performance?
Don't allow them to return to the game unless they have been checked by someone who is qualified to check for the symptoms of concussion and has passed them fit to continue.
What Can Coaches Do?
As a coach, you must prioritize safety as well as making soccer fun. Teaching good technique, sportsmanship and the importance of following the rules should be part of your role. These things prevent injuries.
As a role model and leader, you set expectations for players and parents too. Demonstrate that you respect referees, other players, and coaches. Make safety a priority and others will too.
Talk about the dangers of a concussion including the long-term implications. Never pressure an injured player to play. Stop other players or parents from doing so too.
Check with your club and league about concussion policy. Think long term. Consider the after-football life of the player and not just the result of a game. And before a game, introduce any healthcare professionals to the referee.
Identify when players are hurt and need some assistance. Look for the signs of a concussion after a soccer header. These include confusion, memory loss, change in attitude or performance. Remove the player from play if you suspect they have suffered a concussion.
Get the player checked by a healthcare professional. Don't judge how serious yourself. Don't put them back in the game unless cleared by a healthcare professional.
Want to Learn More About Soccer?
Soccer has its risks but it's also a great fun sport.
Improved safety for children with changes in rules over the soccer header can only help it flourish. Which is great, as the sport has loads of health benefits for players.
10 Soccer World Cup Teams to Watch This Summer
10 Soccer World Cup Teams to Watch This Summer
With the USA failing to qualify for the World Cup this summer, you might be feeling lost as to which team so support instead. Learn more about 10 great World Cup teams that could be worthy of your backing this summer.
Keyword(s): Primary: world cup teams; Secondary: world cup qualified teams, world cup qualifying teams, watching world cup soccer, qualified teams for world cup, top world cup teams
The World Cup comes around only once every four years. Many fans of soccer in the United States were shocked when the U.S. lost in a 2-1 stunner against Trinidad and Tobago last October.
Even though the U.S. is eliminated from this year's competition, there are still plenty of World Cup teams to cheer for. The usual international powerhouses will be there in Russia, as well as teams from smaller countries looking for a miracle and hoping to take home the trophy.
Let's take a look at a list of the top World Cup soccer teams that you should watch out for this year.
10 Soccer World Cup Teams to Watch This Summer
With the USA failing to qualify for the World Cup this summer, you might be feeling lost as to which team to support instead. Lean more about 10 great World Cup teams that could be worthy of your backing this summer.
This is a team loaded with a lot of talent. With players like Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, and Eden Hazard, the Belgians are a dangerous squad, and yet it is unlikely that they will make it beyond the semi-finals.
2018 will actually be the first year that Panama has played in the World Cup. They have a lot of talent, including several current and former MLS players, as well as skilled goalkeeper Jaimie Penedo.
With as much talent as they have, no one is really expecting them to stay around very long, given the strong competition in their group, which boasts such world-class forces as England and Belgium.
Team manager Gomez has plenty of experience at this level of competition, having helmed both Colombia and Ecuador in World Cup competition. But he will need to pull off a miracle if he hopes to see his team have an sort of real impact.
True fans of soccer around the world understand the power that Argentina brings to the pitch. Lionel Messi is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game. His presence strikes fear into the heart of any defense, although he has yet to win a World Cup championship, having been denied in 2014 by Germany.
Can Messi find a way to win this year? Argentina came dangerously close to not qualifying for the World Cup this year, so Messi needs to step up and use this opportunity to secure his legacy.
Uruguay is among the favorites this year. It's been nearly 68 years since their last World Cup victory, but this team is one of the most talented that they've ever assembled on the pitch. They might be considered underdogs, but the two-time champions are hungry to make a run at the finals and might just be the team to keep an eye on.
It's been a long time since the Egyptians qualified for a World Cup. That was back in 1990 when they were eliminated in group play without winning a single game. This year they will be led by talented striker Mohamed Sarah, who dominated the English Premier League with 31 goals. Although the odds are certainly against the Egyptian squat leaving much of a mark, you can be sure that they will play as hard as any team out there.
This is another team that hasn't made an appearance in World Cup competition in well over two decades. That was in 1982, long ago enough to make only goalkeeper Lead Butron the only member of this team born at the time.
Much of Peru's chances for success will depend on the ability of coach Ricardo Gareca to inspire his team to over-achieve. Peru struggled to quality, and only made it in by the skin of their teeth.
Germany is a force to be reckoned with. The defending champions managed to fend off Messi in 2014, crushing his hopes for a World Cup victory. And this year could easily shape up to be a repeat performance of four years ago.
They are always a dangerous squad, dominating on both offense and defense, and loaded with young, new talent. This team is the closest to a sure thing you are likely to find.
Here is another important factor to keep in mind. In the last 80 years, Brazil is the only team to ever successfully defend its Word Cup title. That happened all the way back in 1962, and you can bet that Brazil will make every effort to keep their place in history intact.
Iceland holds the title of being the smallest nation ever to qualify for World Cup competition. They shocked the soccer world in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals, using that momentum to qualify to play in Russia. This squad is truly an underdog among the titans that will take the pitch this summer, and this might just make them a popular choice to cheer for.
Brazil has more World Cup championships than any other country in the world. They are as dangerous as any team in competition. Last time, they were humiliated by a 7-1 loss to Germany, and will likely be out for revenge in Russia.
The Brazilian team this year is packed with talent, including the deadly Neymar, as well as Gabriel Jesus, and potent midfielder Paulinho. Brazil is always among the most entertaining teams to watch, and will likely be among those making another run at the finals.
There were be 32 World Cup teams competing this summer in Russia. It will be an exciting month of soccer, full of thrilling moments and stunning upsets. Now that fans of Team USA are beginning to recover from the shock of missing out on a possible USA World Cup championship, it's time to start seeking another team to cheer for.
Contact us to learn about our academy and how we can help you improve your soccer skills.
10 Great Benefits of Playing Soccer
10 Great Benefits of Playing Soccer
Playing soccer is great fun. There is a reason it is known as the beautiful game. But playing soccer can also be really good for you. Learn more about 10 great benefits of playing soccer.
Keyword(s): Primary: benefits of playing soccer; Secondary:
As of 2016, around 3 million children participate in the U.S Youth Soccer leagues. This makes soccer is one of the most popular sports in the United States right now. MLS might even be more popular than MLB to today's youth.
This comes as no surprise, as there are many benefits of playing soccer that children can gain. All these benefits will spill into other areas of their life, helping them grow into a fine and capable adult.
Still uncertain if soccer is the right sport for your kids to get into? Let's delve into each of the 10 advantages of letting your kids play soccer.
1. Improves Overall Fitness
Soccer involves a lot of movements, which keeps the children active and helps them fulfill their exercise requirements. Being on the move constantly improves their cardiovascular health, which will help them grow up to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A session involves walking, jogging, and sprinting. Plus, players often have to switch from one pace to the other in a split second. This improves the participants' agility and flexibility while also building their endurance to do it again and again.
2. Increases Muscle and Bone Strength
The mechanics of soccer require a lot of muscle strength in both the lower and upper extremities. The lower body strength dictates how fast a player can turn from walking to sprinting and how far they can kick a ball. Upper body strength is likewise crucial for shielding the ball and holding off opponents.
Playing soccer on a regular schedule helps children build the required strength, and the weight-bearing loads of a regular match help strengthen the skeletal frame.
3. Increases Coordination
Players always have to perform complex movements, such as dribbling the ball to shield it from enemies or going from a full sprint to a stop, which is why soccer eventually improves body coordination.
The kids also exercise their hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. They have to react accordingly to incoming opponents, whether by switching direction or passing the ball. The latter also requires coordination in that players have to spot where their teammates are and pass the ball to their location while they are both running.
4. Develops Cognitive Abilities
The movements above and others don't only require coordination but quick thinking as well. The fast-paced nature of soccer means players often only have a split second to make a decision and to calculate where the ball will end up should they kick it.
Before making that decision, they also have to read the environment with accuracy. Tracking the movement of a ball as it travels through the air requires a lot of practice, and in soccer, the trajectory is always different, giving kids a constant workout.
5. Increases Focus and Concentration
Sports require a lot of concentration in order for kids to be able to deal with the things above. They have to tune out the distractions to move and think effectively, like the cheering audience.
When they have the ball, they also have to focus on only the important things and tune out the rest. They only need to think about getting the goal while factoring in the movements of the opponent and their teammates. It's a common tactic for players in the field to try and distract the one handling the ball as well, so they must know to ignore such things.
6. Promotes Self-Discipline and Perseverance
Participating in sports itself is great to develop a child's discipline. According to a recent Canadian study, children who played sports do better at following instructions and focusing on the matters at hand. It's not surprising given that they have to follow the coach's instructions in order to win.
This also teaches valuable lessons about perseverance. It doesn't matter if they tire themselves at the middle of the game, they have to persevere and see through the match.
7. Teaches Lessons About Winning and Losing
Parents only want the best for their kids, but it's important that they know that the best thing for them is to know how to face losing early in their childhood. If they always keep winning, they'll have a harder time to deal with a loss when they face it the first time when they're older.
Losing teaches humility, and the values and knowledge that children learn during the competition is what's more important than either winning or losing. Tasting victory after a loss is sweeter because children will know how to work harder to get what they want.
8. Requires Working in a Team
Being able to work in a team is an important quality to have in the adult world, and there's no such thing as too young to learn this. Working with a team teaches responsibility as every move they make will affect the whole group.
Children will also learn that all people have strengths and weaknesses. If a person is bad at one thing, that doesn't mean that they're a useless part of the team. Your child will know how to work with different people, which is a valuable lesson that will spill into adulthood.
9. Increases Social Interaction
Playing with friends is always great, and when your children play with others with a common goal, the experience is even better. The camaraderie that people experience when being a part of a team is an experience like no other.
Soccer is a great way to meet new friends. Who knows, if your child gets into playing soccer into adulthood, he might retain some friends in his team who've made the same decision.
10. Increases Self-Esteem
Putting in hard work, winning, and knowing about their own capabilities build the confidence and self-image of kids at a young age. This will eventually know outside of the field. They'll do better in school, friendships, family life, and in their career as they grow older.
Children will feel more comfortable learning new things and being able to perform in front of a cheering crowd. Exercising also releases feel-good endorphins, easing the anxiety that they may have.
Make Sure Your Kids Get the Benefits of Playing Soccer
Soccer is now one of the most popular games in the world and you or your kids could start enjoying it too. It's easy to get into and the benefits listed above outweigh any downsides to playing sports together.
If you want your children to have the benefits of playing soccer we outlined above, contact us and have your kid join our club! There's no better time than now to enjoy soccer.
How Soccer Is Becoming One of the Most Popular Sports in America
How Soccer Is Becoming One of the Most Popular Sports in America
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. But traditionally it has always been a minority sport in the USA. But things are changing. Learn more about how soccer is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in america.
Keyword(s): Primary: most popular sports in america; Secondary: most popular sports in the world, most watched sports in america, why is soccer so popular, soccer in america, soccer in the us
Believe it or not, 95 million Americans watch at least 20 minutes of a World Cup game every few years. As this audience grows steadily, it's clear that soccer is quickly becoming one the fastest growing sports in the US. While it's not quite at the top of the list of most popular sports in America, it's climbing the chart quickly.
Whether you're a player or a spectator, the thrill of a soccer game is undeniable. Here are 5 reasons why soccer seems to be an unstoppable force in the world of spectator sports in the U.S.
1. It's Everywhere
With 23 teams now in the Major League Soccer conferences, spanning the US and Canada, soccer is spreading like wildfire. American kids and adults are rooting on their local city teams like they have for the NFL and MLB for decades.
Started in 1993 with just 10 teams, there are now enough teams for you to find one in just about every major city that has a baseball or football team. You find kids wearing their jerseys and rooting on specific players, just like in the NBA. While it's been a steady growth, its expansion in recent years has been fast, breaking just about everyone's expectations.
As soccer becomes more popular on the professional level, it's bound to trickle down to smaller local teams. With high school students now seeing the potential of going pro, people are starting to take it more seriously.
2. Kids Love It
Nearly 3 million kids are out on the field every week, attesting to their love of playing soccer. Youth soccer has been one of the most popular activities for kids in elementary and middle school for decades. It's a low-cost way to get kids outside and excited to play with other kids.
Just running a few soccer drills can make kids healthier and more focused in the classroom.
It teaches kids the value of teamwork and collaboration. It also shows kids how important it is to be both a gracious winner and a respectful loser. When they lose a game, they learn a valuable lesson about resilience.
Kids who play soccer are healthier and have a lower chance of developing health risks later in life. The longer you can defer them from sitting in front of the couch and playing video games all day, the healthier and happier they'll be.
The social lessons they learn on the soccer field are hard to measure but no less valuable than the actual goals they score.
3. Changing Demographics Help
As America becomes more multicultural and interested in the perspectives of ethnicities and nationalities worldwide, soccer will inevitably grow. Soccer is still the most popular sport in the world and not looking to lose its spot anytime soon. So long as nearly half the world's population watches the World Cup, it's going to maintain a secure spot at the top.
America's demographic has been changing steadily for years and as new arrivals bring relics and what they enjoy stateside, we are able to learn new things. Where once it was rare to see soccer on TV, it's now on mainstream American sports networks. Instead of having to have a satellite that got Latin American or European stations, we can now watch it any time.
As viewership expands, so will the spending on the sport. And as spending increases, so will the viewership.
4. It's Become Cooler
Whether you're a Francophile or a lover of different African, Asian, or European cultures, there's an undeniable coolness about soccer. Soccer players are good looking, in great shape, and have a lot of personality on the field.
Despite the occasional riot out on the field, there are a lot of fun people playing soccer. They have intense emotions when they win or lose and can help to add to the drama of watching it.
Soccer used to be a sport that was more or less looked down upon in America. It was once inferior to other professional sports like basketball or hockey. Now, it rivals the popularity of both.
5. Adult Leagues Are Taking Off
Even as kids are keeping soccer's popularity at a fever pitch, adults are helping it along as well. The number of adult leagues that you can find in any city or town is surprising. Singles and married couples both find it's a great way to meet new people, stay in touch with old friends, and blow off steam from stressful jobs.
For a low entry fee, you can meet for a game once a week with a group of people who would otherwise be strangers. Win or lose, you can get together with the opposing team and have a drink or a bite to eat at a nearby bar. You can talk about wins and losses on and off the field and get to know some other people better.
Adult leagues are offered through various gyms and exercise facilities across the country. Call up your nearest YMCA or another facility to see what kinds of team sports they offer.
Soon Enough It'll Be One Of The Most Popular Sports in America
It won't be long before soccer becomes one of the most popular sports in America.
It's already got such a huge following worldwide, the U.S. is one of the last markets that isn't crazy for soccer. In just a few years, with changing demographics and tastes, it'll be duking it out with the NBA and NFL.
If you're looking to get started with your own life on the field, start with our guide for kicking and running simple exercises.
Who Is Pele? 10 Amazing Facts About the Soccer Legend
Who Is Pele? 10 Amazing Facts About the Soccer Legend
He is often hailed as the greatest soccer player of all time. But who is Pele exactly? Learn more with these 10 amazing facts about the Brazilian soccer superstar.
Keyword(s): Primary: who is pele; Secondary: soccer player pele, pele facts, how did pele get his name, pele brazilian soccer player, facts about pele
What does the name Pele mean to you?
Even if you're not a soccer fan, it's more than likely you've heard the name Pele mentioned in the sports world. Pele may now be long retired, but at one point in time, he was one of the biggest names in sports.
But, who is Pele exactly, you ask?
Aside from being hailed as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, there's more to Pele than just the title alone. We're taking a closer look at the life of Pele and uncovering some lesser-known facts.
Learn more with these 10 amazing facts about the Brazilian soccer superstar.
He Began His Soccer Career at 15
Pele was born in 1940 in Brazil. As a young child, he played in many youth soccer clubs and was always regarded as the top player in the league. At the young age of 15, he signed to Santos and began his professional soccer career.
From here, it was only up.
During this first game, he played forward and scored four goals. It was during this first game that his rivals know he was someone to watch out far.
While he has now been retired for over 40 years, he is still regarded by many as the best soccer player in history.
He Was Named After Thomas Edison
While the nickname "Pele" is what the sporting world knows him by, Pele's legal name is actually Edson. However, due to an error on the birth certificate, he became known as "Edison".
If you're wondering how did Pele get his name, it all dates back to his classmates.
Originally, he was nicknamed "Dico" by his family which transitioned to "Pele" during his school days. While the origin of the nickname is not totally understood, one theory is that it was given due to his mispronunciation of the name of his favorite player Bile.
However, in his autobiography, Pele states neither himself nor his friends have any idea where the name came from or what it means.
He Grew Up in Poverty
Although Pele's father was a famous soccer player, the family grew up very poor in the state of Sao Paulo.
To earn extra money, Pele worked in tea shops and also as a servant to help his family with bills.
While he was taught how to play soccer by his father, the family could not afford an actual soccer ball and would practice with a sock stuff with newspaper or even a grapefruit.
But, despite this poverty, Pele was able to rise against it and come out on top. As his career blossomed, he eventually became known as one of the highest paying soccer players in the world.
He Was the Recipient of Many Awards and World Titles
The Brazilian government also declared him a "national treasure" in 1961. This was to prevent other football clubs from taking him out of the country. While still possible, it was it legally difficult for him to play for outside teams.
In 1999 he Was Voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics. That same year, Pele was elected Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.
Nowadays, Pele's net worth is said to be around 100 million dollars
He Was Married 3 Times
Pele was married three times and was allegedly reported to have had many affairs.
As a result, Pele has many children. Though the exact number has not been biologically proven, it's regarded to be at least seven.
In 2016 and at the age of 73, Pele married his 41-year-old partner Marcia Aoki.
He Is the Only Player to Win 3 World Cups
Pele is the only soccer player to have been on three World Cup-winning teams.
It was the 1958 World Cup that Pele became known internationally as one of the best players in the world.
When Brazil lost to Uraguay in the 1950 World Cup final, Pele's father was seen crying after the game. Pele promised him that one day he would win a World Cup. As it turns out, Pele was able to make this dream come true for his father not just one, but three times in total.
He Is the Most Successful League Goal-Scorer in the World
Throughout his career, Pele scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. According to the international federation of football history and statistics, this awarded him title to the most goals in history.
He scored 92 hat tricks and once scored eight goals in a single match.
With these numbers, it's no surprise Pele was once regarded as the highest paid soccer player in the world.
He Worked for The Government
After retiring from soccer in 1977, Pele decided to work for The Government and fulfill some of his passions.
Between the years of 1995 and 1998, he served as Brazil's Extraordinary Minister of Sport. From here, he also served as a United Nations ambassador and worked in the ecology and environment sector.
He Has His Own Day
November 19th is officially regarded as "Pele Day" in Santos.
This day marks the day in which he scored his 1000th goal in 1969. This goal was scored from a penalty kick and was a highly anticipated moment in all of Brazil. After that goal, the day officially became known as Pele Day and has continued to be celebrated in Santos.
Afterall, shouldn't all legends have their own day?
He Received a Lifetime Achievement Award
South African President Nelson Mandela presented Pele with a Lifetime Achievement award.
Nelson stated that watching Pele play was like watching the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man. He also awarded Pele for his kind and compassionate nature and praised him for being a hero.
So, Who is Pele?
While Pele is arguably the best soccer player in history, these facts point to the fact that he was so much more than that.
So, who is Pele?
Pele was the recipient of countless awards, a player that rose from poverty and a human being that was highly praised by those around him.
It's clear Pele has established a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
For any soccer fanatics, visit our website for more like this and see how our director was a teammate of Pele!
Check out the Express FC Soccer Academy difference! The Boys &Girls Soccer Tryout Schedule has been released
Take a look at the Express difference and what our parents are saying about this club! The Boys &Girls Soccer Tryout Schedule has been released
“My children have played for other clubs in the Olentangy area. This is the first time I feel like the club and director care about my children and their development and not my checkbook.” Kevin M., Columbus, Ohio
“My child has played for other clubs. Solly has made her feel valued like no other coach she has had. He really cares for and wants to develop all players to the best of their ability. He makes soccer so enjoyable. Because she feels appreciated, she works harder than ever before. And most importantly...she has fun while doing it." Allison G., Lewis Center, Ohio
“At this club, I feel the coaches see potential in every child and do everything to develop them into premier players. My daughter’s skills have been developed more at Express than any other club. We feel at home here.” Christine A., Westerville, Ohio
Use the link below to read more about the Express FC experience
The Express Difference
2018-2019 TRYOUT SCHEDULE
2011-2007 (U8-U12) Boys & Girls
Tues., May 29th 6:00-7:30 pm
Wed., May 30th 6:00-7:30 pm
Thurs., May 31st 6:00-7:30 pm
Sat., June 2nd 9:00-10:45 am
2006-2005 (U13-U14) Boys & Girls
Mon., June 4th 5:30-7:00 pm
Tues., June 5th 5:30-7:00 pm
Wed., June 6th 5:30-7:00 pm
Thurs., June 7th 5:30-7:00 pm
Sat., June 9th 9:00-10:45 am
2004-2003 (U15-U16) Boys & Girls
Mon., June 4th 7:15-8:45 pm
Tues., June 5th 7:15-8:45 pm
Wed., June 6th 7:15-8:45 pm
Thurs., June 7th 7:15-8:45 pm
Sat., June 9th 9:00-10:45 am
2002-2001 (U17-U18) Boys & Girls
Tues., May 29th 4:30-5:45 pm
Wed., May 30th 4:30-5:45 pm
Thurs., May 31st 4:30-5:45 pm
Sat., June 2nd 9:00-10:45 am
Please arrive 15-30 mins early for check-in
Read more about us in the MOSSL Tryout Guide