The FIFA World Cup kicks off on Sunday with host country Qatar meeting Ecuador. The United States will open the pool game the following day, November 21, against Wales.
As the biggest sporting event in the world approaches – and we think about how the experience will play out in Kansas City in less than four years – we take a look at some of the stories, people, facts and figures of the World Cup, starting with the only time Sporting KC’s Peter Vermes, as national team assistant coach, competed against who he believes is the greatest to play the game to Lionel Messi .
The year was 2005 and the occasion of the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. Vermes had played for the Kansas City Wizards but was four years away from becoming manager of a team later known as Sporting KC.
Here he was one of two assistants for the American team.
Messi, playing for his Argentina national team, was a 17-year-old wonderkid who had made his professional debut for Barcelona a year earlier. He turned 18 during the competition which did not start well for him or his homeland.
Argentina and USA met in a group stage opener and Vermes produced the scouting report. He knew all about Messi and implored coach Ziggy Schmidt to deploy unconventional defensive tactics.
Vermes had recently attended a South American Under-20 competition and found himself sitting next to the broadcasters. During the game against Argentina, Vermes saw and heard about this remarkable young player.
“All he says is Messi, Messi, Messi, when he dribbled past a guy,” Vermes said.
He called Schmidt after the game and told him he had never seen a better young player. “I didn’t know how we were going to stop it,” he said.
Vermes’ idea: Slow down Messi by man-marking him, assigning a player not to leave him unchecked in an effort to reduce his influence. It was an old school practice and Schmidt was not keen on the idea. It turned out that the strategy was not necessary at first.
For some reason young Messi didn’t play in the first half as the USA took a 1-0 lead. But Vermes walked away from the team early at half-time and watched as Argentina warmed up. It became clear that Messi would come into the game.
“We have to mark it with a man,” Vermes pleaded to Schmidt.
But Schmidt liked the way the team played and didn’t want to change. Just in case, Vermes approached the player who would be tasked with staying with Messi should that happen: Benny Feilhaber, who later played for Vermes at Kansas City.
Argentina controlled the ball to start the second half.
“It’s not a lie,” Vermes said. “Messi gets the ball, dribbles from midfield to 25 yards. He takes a shot and he hits the crossbar for a goal kick.
“Ziggy leans over and says, ‘We have to find someone on Messi. “”
Feilhaber got the job done and the United States completed the triumph with one goal.
It was a triumph to be savored as the tournament became Messi’s.
Argentina have not lost. Messi opened the scoring in a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the semi-finals and scored twice from the penalty spot in the 2-1 triumph over Nigeria for the Championship. Six goals earned Messi the Golden Boot as the event’s top scorer and the Golden Ball as the best player.
The United States withdrew from pool play but fell in the round of 16.
“I know that’s true,” Vermes said. “The president of the Argentine FA called the coach after our game and said, ‘Here’s how it’s going to be: Messi has to play every minute of every game going forward. If he’s out for something else an injury or a (red) card, I’ll fire you immediately and send a new coach.
It was the start of Vermes’ longstanding admiration for Messi – and why his choice of Argentina to win the World Cup is based at least in part on sentiment.
“I would like to see Messi win because I feel like he’s been the best player in the world for a long time,” Vermes said. “And I think unfortunately he will be looked at differently if he doesn’t win a World Cup. If he does, I think he will cement his place, at least I would say, as the best to ever play. gambling. “
US PROGRAM, TV
The United States are in Group B with Wales, England and Iran. Here are the game and TV schedules:
Nov. 21 USA vs. Wales, 1 p.m. (center) FOX
Nov. 25 USA vs. England, 1 p.m. FOX
Nov. 29, USA vs. Iran, 1 p.m. FOX
ODDS OF WINNING THE FIFA WORLD CUP TROPHY
The trophy is made with approximately $161,000 in gold. Here are the odds from vegasinsider.com a week before the opening game:
Brazil +400 (bet $100 to win $400)
United States +15000
South Korea +25000
Saudi Arabia +75000
Costa Rica +75000
2022 WORLD CUP TOP SCORER ODDS
Harry Kane, England +700
Kylian Mbappe, France +900
Junior Neymar, Brazil +1200
Karim Benzema, France +1200
Lionel Messi, Argentina +1200
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal +1600
THE WORLD CUP IS OVER
Most leagues by country
4 Germany (including West Germany)
Most leagues by continent
9 South America
0 North America, Asia, Africa, Australia
Most non-championship final appearances
FOOTBALL IS THE MOST POPULAR SPORT IN…
In 10 of the 13 nations studied by Nielsen, football ranks among the three most popular sports:
Australia: Australia dominates football, tennis and cricket
Brazil: football, volleyball, extreme sports
Canada: ice hockey, figure skating, snowboarding
China: basketball, badminton, football
France: football, tennis, rugby
Germany: football, ski jumping, biathlon
India: cricket, football, badminton
Italy: football, motor sports, athletics
Japan: figure skating, baseball, football
South Korea: short track speed skating, soccer, figure skating
Spain: football, tennis, basketball
United Kingdom: football, boxing, motor sports
United States: football, basketball, baseball
MOST COMMON PLAYER NAMES
According to research by kelbet.es, a sports betting resource, Carlos has been the most common name for a World Cup player since the event began in 1930. Here is the list of the top 10 common names for more of 7,000 players:
WORLD CUP BIRTHPLACES
According to bettingexpert.com, these cities have produced the most World Cup players since 1930
95 Montevideo, Uruguay
72 Mexico City, Mexico
66 Buenos Aires, Argentina
63 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
63Santiago, Costa Rica
54 Vienna, Austria
KANSAS CITY EVENING
Nobody watches parties like Kansas City. Sporting KC and The Power & Light District have teamed up to bring the parties to Kansas City Live! and no other ads. Entry is free for group stage matches involving the United States and Mexico, but these will be ticketed events.
For more information: https://www.sportingkc.com/wc2022/
UPCOMING ATTRACTION: WORLD CUP 2026 CITIES
A preview of the next World Cup and where the matches will be played
San Francisco (Bay Area)