Sunday, August 2, 2015

Games to Watch: CONCACAF, UEFA and Africa World Cup qualifying, plus the Cascadia Cup finale

I said in the first version of this that Jamaica had called up Donovan Ricketts. The roster I saw wasn't accurate (though it was on the Jamaican federation's website, oddly). I also said that Senegal-Ivory Coast is Sunday; it's Saturday. Apologies.

Games to Watch: CONCACAF, UEFA and Africa World Cup qualifying, plus the Cascadia Cup finale


I said in the first version of this that Jamaica had called up Donovan Ricketts. The roster I saw wasn't accurate (though it was on the Jamaican federation's website, oddly). I also said that Senegal-Ivory Coast is Sunday; it's Saturday. Apologies.

Costa Rica at Honduras

4:50 p.m. Friday (beIN Sport)

The second and third-place teams in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings lock horns at San Pedro Sula, and the stakes are especially big for Honduras. If Catrachos win, Óscar Boniek García and company will take a huge step towards punching an automatic ticket to Brazil.

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Costa Rica, led by Alvaro Saborío and Bryan Ruiz, already has its berth locked up. Now the Ticos are playing for first place in the Hex. It may not mean anything in the long run, but you can be sure there's plenty of pride at stake.

Jamaica at United States

6:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN and UniMás starting at 6:00)

Though the U.S. has already booked its ticket to the World Cup, there are still two qualifying games left to play. With injured stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley out, the door is open for newcomers Mix Diskerud and Aron Jóhannsson to step up.

The Reggae Boyz are in last place, but aren't eliminated from qualifying yet. If they win their last two games and get some help, they could sneak into fourth place. That means Vancouver's Darren Mattocks and Portland's Ryan Johnson, among others, still have a lot to play for.

ESPN2 will start pregame coverage at 4:45 p.m. with a special edition of ESPN FC. It won't be live on site the way the show was for the U.S.-Mexico game in Columbus, but there will still be plenty to talk about. 

Panama at Mexico

9:15 p.m. Friday (ESPNews/UniMás)

These two teams are tied for CONCACAF's place in a playoff against New Zealand that will determine the last team in the World Cup. For perennial power Mexico, every game is a must-win – but El Tri hasn't won any of its home games in the final round of qualifying.

Javier Hernández and company must step up against a tough Panama team that includes former Union midfielder Gabriel Gómez.

Senegal at Ivory Coast

1:00 p.m. Saturday (beIN Sport)

The African World Cup qualifying playoffs include this clash of old and new powers. Back in 2002, Senegal rose to prominence by toppling reigning World Cup champ France. Now the Ivory Coast, led by Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré, have become a powerhouse. If the Elephants reach Brazil, they will be a darkhorse threat for a deep run.

Seattle Sounders at Portland Timbers

9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN)

Even though it's a FIFA international window, MLS rolls on as the playoffs loom. The league's signature rivalry has even bigger stakes than usual, as both teams are in the race for the league's best record. A key battle to watch will be Portland playmaker Diego Valeri aganst Seattle workhorse Osvaldo Alonso.

Egypt at Ghana

12:00 p.m. Tuesday (beIN Sport)

Former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley faces his biggest test yet in his time leading Egypt. The Pharoahs, featuring striker Mohamed Salah, are two games from reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

But Ghana has been Bradley's nemesis for a long time. The Black Stars knocked the U.S. out of the 2010 World Cup when Bradley was in charge, and ended the U.S. campaign in 2006 when Bradley was an assistant.

UEFA World Cup Qualifying Whip-Around

2:30 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2)

You'll see coverage of 19 European World Cup qualifiers in a two-and-a-half hour show hosted by Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman. Big games include Turkey-Netherlands, Serbia-Macedonia, and above all Spain-Georgia and France-Finland.

Spain and France are tied for first place in their group, and Les Bleus could force the reigning World Cup champs into a qualifying playoff.

If you're wondering about Friday's UEFA games (i.e. today's), there won't be a whip-around show because ESPN2 will carry Germany-Ireland in its entirety starting at 2:30 p.m. All other games except for England's home contests are on Fox Sports 1 will carry the Three Lions' clashes with Montenegro today and Poland on Friday, with both broadcasts starting at 3:00 p.m.

United States at Panama

9:00 p.m. Tuesday (beIN Sport)

The final night of World Cup qualifying will be huge for Panama, as the Canaleros try to book their first ever World Cup berth. But there will be stakes for the U.S. as well, as Landon Donovan and company try to finish atop the CONCACAF standings. That could give the Americans an outside shot at a coveted No. 1 seed in the World Cup group stage draw.

Mexico at Costa Rica

9:00 p.m. Tuesday (Telemundo)

It will be all or nothing for Mexico as El Tri ventures into one of CONCACAF's most treacherous venues. Costa Rica is battling the U.S. for first place, but beyond that, the Ticos faithful will celebrate plenty if they can keep Mexico from booking a place in Brazil. It would be astonishing for North America's perennial power to miss a World Cup in the western hemisphere, but it really could happen.
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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, the National Women's Soccer League, the U.S. men's and women's national teams, and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Jonathan Tannenwald
Lauren Green Inquirer Staff Writer
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