The Confederations Cup — an eight-team World Cup trial run — kicks off this weekend with some spicy matchups. Meanwhile, Brazil, Russia and Iran have already clinched berths for the 2018 World Cup, and the other 29 teams will be determined over the next six months.
Italian great Alessandro Nesta, a World Cup champion and one of the best center backs of all time, is coaching Miami FC and has the team in first place and preparing for Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup game against Major League Soccer’s Orlando City.
The U.S. national team, coming off a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, next takes on rival Mexico on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in a critical World Cup qualifier. The first-place Mexicans are unbeaten there in two years.
On Tuesday afternoon, the David Beckham and his business partners got past a major barrier by securing county approval to buy the final parcel of land they sought to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Miami.
The Miami FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies tied all three times they played last season; but Wednesday night, the game was not allowed to end in a deadlock. The cross-state rivals were playing a third-round match in the single-elimination U.S. Open Cup.
Italian legend Francesco Totti, who played his final game with Roma Sunday after a quarter century at the club, may extend his career with Miami FC, whose coach is his friend and former Italy World Cup teammate Alessandro Nesta.
Chelsea won the Premier League title for the second time in three years, coming back from 10th place to the top with two games to spare. Meanwhile, Swansea, Hull and Crystal Palace are battling to avoid relegation.
Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva spent big bucks to sign veteran players and improve FIU Stadium. The investment appears to be paying off, as the team reached the top of the NASL standings last week. Meanwhile, in MLS, Atlanta United is averaging a league-high 49,000 fans in its inaugural season.
Goalkeeper Justin Garces, who grew up in Kendall, and midfielder George Acosta, who played youth soccer at Miami Lakes and Weston, are in Panama with the U.S. U-17 National Team for the CONCACAF U17 Championships.
The University of Miami, Florida State, Florida and Florida Gulf Coast are locks for the NCAA Tournament. But for bubble teams like Syracuse, Kansas State and Vanderbilt, it will be a nerve-wracking day on Sunday.
U.S. fans and the media will be paying close attention to see if the U.S. men’s national team looks more energized and creative under Bruce Arena than they did in a pair of losses to Mexico and Costa Rica that wound up costing Jurgen Klinsmann his job.
Michelle Kaufman grew up in Miami and graduated from UM in 1987. She has worked at the St. Petersburg Times and the Detroit Free Press and has been with the Miami Herald since 1996. She has covered 13 Olympics and 6 World Cups.