It’s not all bad news from FIFA, soccer world governing body, embroiled in recent corruption scandals. FIFA’s decision to expand the 2015 Women’s World Cup, presently playing in Canada, from 18 to 24 teams was a good move and proved historical. All seven debutante teams gained valuable experience and enhanced and expanded the game, but Cameroon did more – it made history as the first African team in 16 years to advance to the second round since Nigeria in 1999.
With all but two of the six groups completed in group play, two of the debutante teams have qualified for the second round, the Round of 16, with a possible third newcomer still in with a chance to move on. In Group C, Cameroon (2-0-1, 6 pts.) finished second when it rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeated Switzerland, 2-1, and advance; defending champion Japan (3-0-0, 9 pts), which won all three matches, won the group. Switzerland finished as one of the best third-place teams and will move on to play Canada (1-2-0 5 pts.), which won Group A. China (1-1-1, 4 pts.) was second in Group A and will play Cameroon. Ecuador (0-0-3) was the other newcomer in this group and was unfortunate not to get a win despite its strong play at times.
The other four World Cup newcomers include Costa Rica (0-2-0, 2 pts), which is undefeated with two draws and can advance, but has a tough task against Group E winner Brazil (2-0-0, 6 pts) next; Spain (0-1-1 1 pts), another Cup debutante, and in this group, can also advance if it beats South Korea and Costa Rica loses or draws. If both teams draw, Costa Rica has the better chance to advance.
Thailand (1-0-1, 3 pts) and Ivory Coast (0-0-3) played in Group B, but these newcomers were eliminated after gallant efforts in a very difficult group, which was won by No. I ranked Germany (2-1-0, 7 pts.), with Norway (2-1-0, 7 pts.) coming in second. Thailand did well to get its first win. The USA (2-1-0, 7 pts) won Group D with a 1-0 win over Nigeria (0-1-2, 1 pt) Tuesday night in Vancouver, and Australia (1-1-1, 4 pts.) tied Sweden (0-3-0, 3 pts) on the same night to finish second in the group to play Brazil in the next round. Group F with Colombia atop, then England, France and Mexico is still wide open, except Mexico has a very slim chance of advancing.
The second round of CONCAAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia was completed last weekend. Teams competed in home-and-away series during the period, June 7-16, 2015, and the team with the better aggregate score in each series will now advance to the third round, scheduled to kick-off later this year in September.
Nicaragua prevailed over Suriname with a 4-1 aggregate score. St. Vincent and the Grenadines advanced past Guyana on the away goals rule after their game played to a 4-4 draw in Guyana; the teams played to a 2-2 draw in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as both ended on a 6-6 aggregate score. Forward Myron Samuel scored three goals in the series for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Barbados predictable topped Aruba, 3-0 on aggregate. After winning the first game, 1-0, on the road, the Bajans had a relatively easy time in a 2-0 win at home in the second outing. Defender Emmerson Boyce of Wigan Athletic in the English Championship is captain of Barbados and scored in the home leg.
Antigua and Barbuda got the best of St. Lucia by a 5-4 aggregate and will move to the next round. Curacao surprised everyone and got past Cuba on the away goals rule; the teams played to a 1-1 draw in Cuba after a goalless draw in Curacao. Belize finished with a 5-1 aggregate advantage over Dominican Republic, and Canada stormed past Dominica with a 6-0 aggregate score. El Salvador and St. Kitts/Nevis played to a 2-2 draw in St. Kitts, but El Salvador scored a 4-1 victory at home to finished with a 6-3 aggregate. Grenada topped Puerto Rico, 2-1, on aggregate. Guatemala prevailed over Bermuda, 1-0, on aggregate.
New York City FC (3-5-7) beat Montreal Impact, 3-1, last Saturday at Yankee Stadium to register its first ever consecutive wins in MLS; David Villa tapped in Mehdi Ballouchy’s cross in the 31st minute, U.S. national team midfielder Mix Diskerud doubled the lead in the 76th and Kwadwo Poku scored the third. Wandrille Lefevre tallied for Montreal. The previous week, NYFC knocked off Philadelphia Union.
In other MLS results last weekend, the New England Revs were 2-0 better than the Chicago Fire, the Columbus and the Los Angeles Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw and the Seattle Sounders beat Dallas, 3-0…. The New York Red Bulls topped the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL, 3-0, in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round game on Tuesday night at Red Bull Arena.
In the local Caribbean Cup tournament at Jefferson High School Complex in Flatlands, Brooklyn last Sunday, Team St. Kitts / Nevis knocked off Team Panama, 4-1; the victors got goals from Kassall Greene, Joeski Williams, Alister Warner and Donroy Liburd, while Eduardo McCalla tallied for Team Panama. Team Haiti knocked off team Antigua/Barbuda, 2-0, behind goals from Jean Kismy Francois and Alfred Sonthonax; in a second game this week. Team Trinidad and Tobago and Team St. Lucia played to a 1-1 draw.