This was clearly not the international break that Bruce Arena and U.S. fans were hoping for. A disappointing home loss to Costa Rica, and then a draw on Tuesday afternoon in Honduras, where the U.S. was dreadful for most of the night. The U.S. defense has been a disaster lately, and even returns from injury for players like John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin might not solve all their woes. Christian Pulisic had a quiet game, and no one else on offense did much of note until Bobby Wood’s equalizer in the 85th minute. The point the U.S. got means their fate is still in their own hands. But they will need some drastically better performances if they want to clinch another World Cup berth.
Down in South America, the wild results are coming in fast and furious. Brazil’s winning streak was ended with a 1-1 draw in Colombia. Colombia now sit in 3rd place in qualifying with 26 points. Peru knocked off Ecuador 2-1 to keep their World Cup dreams alive. Argentina struggled to a 1-1 draw with last place Venezuela, Chile lost 1-0 to Bolivia, and Uruguay beat Paraguay 2-1. Brazil have already qualified for the World Cup, but the next 6 teams in the table are separated by just 6 points total. It’s going to go down to the wire to see who qualifies out of South America, and its sure to be fascinating.
Atlanta United will make a midseason stadium switch, as their new home Mercedes Benz stadium is finally ready to go. The stadium is brand new, and they will share it with Atlanta’s NFL team the Falcons. Atlanta has a huge stretch coming up, eight games in 23 days and seven of those games at home. That run will go a long way to determining whether or not the club can make the playoffs. Atlanta United will be throwing events all week to celebrate the opening of the stadium, so if you live down in Georgia, there are events going on all week in Downtown Atlanta.
Nigeria can be seen as a microcosm of African football as a whole, clearly talented but never quite able to reach the levels of success many people think they should. There have been many talented Nigerian players over the years, Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel, Jay Jay Okocha. Two of the younger players that are starring Nigeria are Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Ihenacho. Both are clearly talented, and while neither have managed to break out quite yet, they, like Nigerian football, are again on the rise.
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