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The Party For Brazil is Growing!

With the final group games being played in Europe, South America and North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) on Tuesday, 14 (of 32) teams have already qualified for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014:

Europe - 5 of 13 teams have qualified: Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland.
On Tuesday four more teams will qualify with eight teams vying for 4 playoff spots.

South America - 3 of 5.5 teams have qualified: Brazil (as hosts), Argentina and Colombia.
On Tuesday, two more teams will qualify while the fifth team will make the playoffs (against Jordan from Asia).

Asia - 4 of 4.5 teams have qualified: Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea. Jordan will playoff between the South American fifth team.

CONCACAF - 2 of 3.5 teams have qualified: USA & Costa Rica.
Three teams are still in the running for the third automatic qualification and / or playoff spot (against New Zealand from Oceania) - Mexico, Honduras & Panama.

Oceania - 0.5 teams qualify: New Zealand will playoff between the forth CONCACAF team.

Africa - 5 teams: none have qualified as of now, but Bob Bradley’s Egypt is in the running with a playoff game against Ghana.

On Tuesday, seven more teams will qualify for the trip to Brazil - Europe (4) South America (2) and CONCACAF (1) for a total of 21 confirmed teams. The balance of the 32 teams will come from Africa (5), Europe (4) and the two play spots between Asia and South America (1) and Oceania and CONCACAF (1).

World Cup Qualification For The US Gets Serious

One game down with nine to go for the USA as they prepare for the next two CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying games against Costa Rica (Friday March 22) and Mexico (Tuesday March 26). Reports indicate some unrest at “Camp Klinsmann”, but a win over Los Ticos at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the home of Real Salt Lake, should settle the team for the Mexico game on Tuesday.

Don’t even think about anything less than three points!

The six teams in the group (Hexagonal) play each other twice on a home and away basis for a total of 10 games. The top three teams automatically qualify for the World Cup in Brazil in the summer if 2014.

The US lost 1-2 against Honduras on the road in February and is currently bottom of the CONCACAF Hexagonal table.

The US’ remaining nine games are scheduled as follows:

1) Mar 22 (H) Costa Rico - Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colorado
2) Mar 26 (A) Mexico - Estadio Azteca; Mexico City, Mexico
3) Jun 7 (A) Jamaica - National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica
4) Jun 11 (H) Panama - CenturyLink Field; Seattle, Wash.
5) Jun 18 (H) Honduras - Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
6) Sep 6 (A) Costa Rica – site to be determined
7) Sep 18 (H) Mexico - Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
8) Oct 11 (H) Jamaica - Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kansas
9) Oct 15 (A) Panama – site to be determined

All home games, and the Mexico away game on Tuesday, will be available on ESPN. The road games will likely be shown on beIN Sport.

The top three teams automatically qualify for the World Cup in Brazil in the summer of 2014, while the fourth-place team will compete in a two-leg playoff against the champion from the Oceania Confederation. The US has qualified for the last six World Cups: 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Probably the country’s two most experienced internationals will not be playing in these two next games – Landon Donavan is on a self imposed break from the game and Tim Howard of Everton is injured.

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lak3), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City ), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes)

Midfielders (10): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor ), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC).

Clint Dempsey will captain the side.

Fox Sports Media Announces Coverage Of The Gold Cup

Fox Sports Media Group has announced it will be televising all 25 matches of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. Fox Soccer is slated to provide most of the coverage, but FOX Sports is broadcasting a live match from the group stage, a quarterfinal round (should the US advance) along with the final on Sunday, July 28 from Soldiers Field in Chicago.

Viewers will have comprehensive access to the entire tournament via Fox Soccer 2Go, FOX Soccer’s digital platform for computers, tablets and smartphones.

Coverage begins on Sunday, July 7 with a live doubleheader on FOX Soccer from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. First up will be Canada v Martinique followed by Mexico v Panama.

The twelve-team tournament will be divided into three groups of four with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stages, and will feature 25 games in total.

Everybody, especially Fox and the organizers, will be keeping their fingers crossed for a USA Mexico final.

MLS Kicks Off For 18th Season

Back in 1996 it was just ten teams and a 32-game regular season, while now it's 19 teams and a 36 game-game season. All 323 games of the 2013 season will be available between the MLS Direct Kick package and national broadcast partners ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, NBC Sports Network, NBC, UniMas, Univision and Univision Deportes. Games can also be seen on MLS Online and all teams have local cable and or broadcast packages.

There have been no signings of designated players in the "Beckham category" to replace the Englishman who is now strutting around France with top French club Paris St Germain.

The league does however have four new coaches: Mike Petke at Red Bull and Caleb Porter of Portland are both Americans, while Ryan Nelsen of Toronto is a New Zealander and Marco Shallibaum, Vancouver, is Swiss. Petke and Nelson are ex-MLS players while Caleb is moving into the professional ranks for the first time after coaching at the University of Akron. Shallibaum played and coached in Switzerland.

Mike Petke and Caleb Porter will be making their coaching debuts for their respective teams against each other on Sunday night in Portland (8pm ET ESPN2, ESPND).

The league now has a number of full time officials and the referees even have there own website. All game officials for the first weekend of the season have been announced.

There's Only One Team In Germany Right Now

And that's Bayern Munich, who thumped Werder Bremen 6-1 on Saturday and top the Bundesliga Table by 18 points over Borussia Dortmund, who play Sunday. Mario Gomez got a couple along with Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery, Javi Martínez and Theodor Gebre Selassie. Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht round out the top four.

Surprise package of the season is SC Freiburg, the tiny Black Forest club who are now 5th, and in position for a spot in Europe next season.

Way down at the bottom of the table are Hoffenheim, Augsburg and Greuther Furth, who just sacked their manager Michael Buskins.

BM are also likely to make the quarter finals of the Champions League after thumping Arsenal 3-1 in the first leg of the Round of 16 - in London no less.

On Wednesday, it's the quarterfinal of the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) and Bayern Munich play Borussia Dortmund (2.30pm ET ESPN3). These teams met in the Final last year and Dortmund took Munich to the cleaners thrashing them 5-2. It's fair to say that the on-form top of the table team is unlikely to allow allow such an embarrassing result this time around.

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