Top 6 World Cup Arenas

1. June 2014 12:59 by Julie Merar in Sports   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments ()


Twelve cities across Brazil will play host to the FIFA World Cup. These cities are located everywhere from the sunny coasts to the depths of the Amazon Rainforest. As such, each arena will present its own unique set of challenges for players. Gameplay is likely to be affected not only by the heat and humidity, but also the hours of travel time in between venues. The Brazil World Cup will certainly be a test of endurance as each team fights for the glory of winning. Here are the top six arenas and the hot matchups they are hosting during the tournament.

6. Arena da Amazonia - Manaus
The city of Manaus is located right in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, the largest and densest rainforest on Earth. The Arena da Amazonia is actually a refurbished version of the pre-existing Estadio Vivaldao. In order to make the stadium into a tournament-ready arena, the entire venue will be enclosed in a large metal structure with a shape inspired by the woven baskets that are characteristic of the city.

Matches to look out for:
The Arena da Amazonia will host four group matches. The hottest matchup to hit Manaus will likely be the USA and Portugal Group G game on June 22. The United States is in what has been called the "Group of Death" given the extremely high caliber of all the teams. This matchup will be the U.S. team's second after facing off against old rivals Ghana in Natal, and will test the players' endurance after having traveled over six hours by plane.

5. Arena da Baixada - Curitiba
Curitiba is home to one of the oldest arenas being used in the 2014 World Cup. The stadium was originally built in 1914, though it underwent extensive renovations in 1999 and 2012. The city is located in the southern part of the country, just south of the capital Sao Paulo.

Matches to look out for:
The Honduras vs. Ecuador match on June 20 will be interesting to watch as Team Ecuador plays against their old coach Luis Fernando Suarez. After leading Ecuador to a World Cup win in 2006, Suarez will now be forced to play against his old team in Curitiba.

4. Arena de Sao Paulo - Sao Paulo
The largest city in the southern hemisphere, Sao Paulo is located along Brazil's coast. The arena is completely new and will become the home of the local team, Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, after the World Cup is over.

Matches to look out for:
Arena de Sao Paulo will host the opening match on June 12. Brazil will play Croatia in what many may initially view as an easy win for the home team. However, if the Croatians manage to score early, they have a chance of silencing the local fans.

3. Arena Fonte Nova - Salvador
The original capital city of Brazil, Salvador is a port city on the country's east coast. The new World Cup stadium is being built on the site of a demolished stadium originally constructed in 1958. The new arena will include a restaurant, soccer museum and concert venue.

Matches to look out for:
The Netherlands will have a chance to redeem themselves in Salvador after losing to Spain in the finals of the 2012 World Cup. The June 13 match should be intense, as the Oranje get another chance to meet the Red Fury on the pitch.

2. Estadio Nacional de Brasilia - Brasilia
The third stadium to be built in the capital city of Brasilia, the Estadio Nacional has the second-largest capacity of any stadium in the country, capable of holding 68,009 cheering fans. The city is located pretty far inland, meaning the players won't have the luxury of cool sea breezes to fend off the heat.

Matches to look out for:
The Portugal vs. Ghana match is likely to be one of the more interesting games at this stadium. Scheduled for June 26, it will be one of the last games that each team plays during the group match round. If Ghana can hold up after their previous matches better than Portugal, they may have a shot.

1. Estadio do Maracana - Rio de Janeiro
Originally built for the 1950 World Cup, which Brazil also hosted, the Maracana is a huge arena, boasting a total capacity of 73,531. The old structure is undergoing renovations for the 2014 tournament to ensure the facility is completely modernized and able to act as an appropriate host. The facade, however, remains untouched, as it has been recognized by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage.

Matches to look out for:
The highlight of the Maracana will be the final championship match, played on July 13 in front of what is sure to be a packed house. The stadium is also set to host a quarterfinal on July 4 and a round of 16 game on June 28. While the exact teams set to play in these events are not yet known, they are sure to be exciting matchups heading into the title fight.

Which matchup are you looking forward to? Tell us on Facebook!

MLS Celebrates 20th Season with 20 Teams

19. March 2014 14:41 by Tiffany Parotto in Sports   //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments ()

With New York City FC  set to play its first game in 2015, it seems Major League Soccer (MLS) is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing sports franchises in the United States. The New York City FC is the the twentieth team to join MLS and the second to represent the state.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced last year that English Premier League team Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees are partnering to create the second soccer team in New York City. The addition of New York City FC soccer means MLS has officially doubled the number of teams in the league  over the last decade. The increase in the number of MLS teams is being met with an equal increase in game attendance across the U.S. While not much is known yet about the fledgling team, it is likely that New York City FC's location in NYC (along with crosstown rivals NYC Red Bulls) will provide a huge boost to the popularity of professional soccer in America.

The NYCFC Badge 


Badge designs were submitted via, including the photo pictured.

Each entry will be featured as a pixel in the final NYCFC badge, and you still have the chance to submit yours. Fans also still have the option of submitting their own badge designs to become a pixel of the official New York City FC team badge mosaic to be revealed later this spring.  The final Club badge mosaic will allow fans to zoom in to find their own design permanently displayed within the shield. NYCFC held a vote for the Club's official team badge, based on two designs by Rafael Esquer. The big reveal will take place in New York City on March, 20.

Bringing Another Team to New York
Plans for the twentieth MLS expansion team have been in the works since 2010, when Garber announced the league's interest in providing the existing New York City Red bulls with a crosstown rival. Over the three years following that announcement, up until the final reveal in May 2013, Garber and MLS President Mark Abbott worked to find sponsors as well as a potential venue space. The project, nicknamed NYC2, finally came to fruition when Manchester City was awarded majority ownership of the New York FC soccer team.

The Team

While it has yet to sign any players, NYCFC has announced it will be led by Jason Kreis as head coach, formerly of Real Salt Lake, and former Manchester City FC center Claudio Reyna as Director of Football. In preparation to heading up what is likely to be one of the most funded teams in the MLS, Kreis is spending time shadowing the coaching staff at Manchester City FC -- one of the largest teams in the English Premier League. In addition, a team of 36 scouts is working to create the team's first roster.


The Starting Lineup

Kreis has indicated that the team will likely sign three designated players. The designated player rule is one of the ways MLS has been able to grow in popularity so quickly over the years. It allows MLS teams to pay a certain number of players above the set salary cap.


This rule has allowed teams to attract international soccer superstars such as Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry and David Beckham. Not only do such players attract audiences, but they also lend a sense of legitimacy to a league that is still very new by international standards. The New York City FC soccer team is rumored to be looking at players such as Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o, Barcelona midfielder Xavi, and Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as possible designated player candidates. 


The Stadium

As far as potential stadium venues are concerned, no official plans have yet been announced, though rumors suggest Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens is a likely candidate for a stadium location. Corona Park is already a strong draw as it is not only the largest park in Queens, but also the site of two World's Fairs and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open tennis tournament. The team plans to play in a temporary space for its first season in 2015.


The Rise of MLS
The burgeoning popularity of MLS is quite astonishing considering the league's origins. Unlike the big four leagues in the U.S. - MLS did not develop naturally as the result of increased interest in the sport from within the country's borders. Instead, the creation of a national soccer league was mandated by FIFA as a condition for the U.S. to host the World Cup in 1994.

Soccer Fans

In just 20 years, MLS has risen to become one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation. Since 2000, average game attendance has seen a 35 percent increase from 13,700 to 18,600. In addition to an increased number of MLS tickets being sold, soccer in the U.S. has seen a marked increase in the number of self-identified fans. Polls conducted by ESPN surveyed 18,000 people in 2012, more than a third of whom described themselves as MLS fans, a 33 percent increase since 2002.


Perhaps more interesting, and more valuable to the league, was the 43 percent increase in those who call themselves avid fans from 2002 to 2012. Currently, just above 7 percent of the U.S. are avid fans of MLS. As a result, the MLS had the fastest growing avid fan base, defined as those fans who are "very interested" in the sport, of any national league between 2002 and 2012. The league is currently being led by the Seattle Sounders FC, whose average game attendance of 44,038 was the highest in 2013.


As the league continues to grow in size and popularity, with another new team - Orlando City FC - in the works, sports fans can expect to see more coverage and exposure of American soccer in the sports media.

Soccer the New Boxing?

30. July 2012 13:09 by Julie Merar in Sports   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments ()


When did soccer become the new boxing? Everyone is talking about this unfortunate incident during the women’s U.S. v. Colombia soccer match. The Colombian soccer player who sucker punched Abby Wambach has been suspended by FIFA. Wambach handled the situation with honor and grace, going on to assist the US Women’s Olympic team in a 3-0 victory.

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