World Cup Preview: 2006
A third of the world will be tuned in from June 9 to July 9, 2006
by Chris Frantz
Soccer's World Cup, the world's largest sporting event, is set for June 9–July 9, 2006, in Germany.
Thirty-two national teams and thousands of rabid fans from around the globe will descend upon the 12 German cities that will form the center of the sporting world for the next month.
The teams are separated into eight groups of four teams each and the teams play a round-robin format, meaning that each team in a group plays the other teams in their group once. Then the top two teams advance to the second round, and the tournament uses a single-elimination format until its conclusion.
The tournament kicks off Friday, June 9, with the opening match in Munich pitting Germany vs. Croatia, and culminates on July 9 with the Cup championship match to be played in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
In light of world events, security will be a major concern for Cup organizers and Germany. Millions of dollars have been spent in anticipation of possible terrorist attacks, but also to help identify and neutralize some of the most infamous and hell-raising soccer hooligans that are expected to arrive. German police have a database of 6,800 known hooligans which will be monitored in the lead-up to the World Cup and individuals will be brought into custody before games if security forces believe they represent a danger.
Security is going ultra-high-tech for these games. The tickets to the events have an embedded chip containing personal identification information, special cameras will scan biometric facial features of suspects, and 30,000 police officers will carry optical fingerprint devices.
U.S.A. All the Way?
After their last place finish in 1998, the U.S. team, coached by Bruce Arena, did surprisingly well in 2002, making it to the quarterfinals where they lost to Germany. No disgrace there—Germany went on to the World Cup final match where they ultimately lost to Brazil. And Arena returns as head coach in 2006, bringing some 2002 veterans—Kasey Kelley, Gregg Berhalter, Pablo Mastroeni, Eddie Pope, DeMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan, Claudio Reyna, and Josh Wolff.
The U.S. team appears to have at least a shot at the title in 2006. Prior to the tournament opening, they were fifth in the FIFA rankings, but other Group E teams include the Czech Republic, ranked second, and Italy, a strong 13 on the FIFA list.
The second place team from Group E plays the first place team from Group F, otherwise known as Brazil, in the second round. And Brazil will be one tough nut to crack. A trip to the second round and a loss to Brazil would still be looked at as a successful trip for the squad.
So Who Will Win?
With top-notch players Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Adriano onboard, number one ranked Brazil will be the team to beat. Along with Brazil, the list of top Cup contenders includes Argentina, Germany and England. And number five in the FIFA world ranking is nothing to sneeze at, so the U.S. just might be in the thick of things in 2006.
|2||Chris Albright||D||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|17||DaMarcus Beasley||M||Ft. Wayne, Ind.|
|12||Gregg Berhalter||D||Tenafly, N.J.|
|3||Carlos Bocanegro||D||Alto Loma, Calif.|
|6||Steve Cherundolo||D||San Diego, Calif.|
|11||Brian Ching||F||Haleiwa, Hawaii|
|13||Jimmy Conrad||D||Temple City, Calif.|
|15||Bobby Convey||M||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|8||Clint Dempsey||M||Nacogdoches, Texas|
|21||Landon Donovan||M||Redlands, Calif.|
|19||Marcus Hahnemann||GK||Seattle, Wash.|
|1||Tim Howard||GK||North Brunswick, N.J.|
|9||Eddie Johnson||F||Palm Coast, Fla.|
|18||Kasey Keller||GK||Lacey, Wash.|
|7||Eddie Lewis||D||Cerritos, Calif.|
|4||Pablo Mastroeni||M||Phoenix, Ariz.|
|20||Brian McBride||F||Arlington Heights, Ill.|
|5||John O'Brien||M||Playa del Rey, Calif.|
|14||Ben Olsen||M||Middletown, Pa.|
|22||Oguchi Onyewu||D||Olney, Md.|
|23||Eddie Pope||D||High Point, N.C.|
|10||Claudio Reyna||M||Springfield, N.J.|
|16||Josh Wolff||F||Stone Mountain, Ga.|