No TFC No Worry

on October 2017 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

With no Toronto FC and MLS this week, actually without any action in most of the leagues for that matter, one may wonder where should we look to get your soccer fix this weekend? Well, there is nothing to fear as there are several great options.

No TFC but the young Reds, Toronto FC II, play at home this Friday vs Bethlehem Steel. I encourage everyone to get out and support this team who have been playing well recently.

But what about the rest of the weekend? What can we watch during the day to tide us over until the juggernaut Toronto Maple Leafs battle the New York Rangers.

No worry as there is still plenty of soccer as qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is coming to a close. With so many games happening, let’s take a quick look at a few that will prove pivotal as to who makes it and who doesn’t. We won’t be able to go through all the action but the following showdowns should be incredibly intense and entertaining.

We will start close to home with the North, Central America and Caribbeans group. Normally this is spearheaded by Mexico and the United States, but the US have fallen lately and our currently out of a spot. Top 3 teams make it and the 4th place has to play a future home-and-home qualifier with a team from a different region. At the moment the US is tied for 4th with 2 games left. Their crucial match is Friday vs third place Panama in Orlando. This could very well determine who is in and who has to sweat it out through one more round. Ironically, Toronto FC fans will be cheering for the US to win as that will minimize the amount of time that players such as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore will miss from the club.

In Europe there are a couple of interesting races with spots up for grabs. The top two teams of each of the 9 groups qualify for Russia 2018 while the top 8 3rd place finishers play a home and home series to determine the remaining 4 qualifying spots.

Group A has an interesting weekend ahead as one of France, Sweden, Netherlands and Bulgaria will not advance and one more will be forced into a 3rd place playoff. It will be best to keep an eye on the 3rd place Dutch; not only because I really like their orange jerseys, but also because after what should be a victory over last place Belarus, they will then host second place Sweden to see who automatically qualifies.

A similar situation is happening in Group D. One point separates second place Wales and third place Republic of Ireland. Thankfully the soccer gods saw it fit to see these two teams face each other on October 9th.

Finally, Group I has the most interesting set of circumstances. The top four teams are separated by a measly two points. Croatia and Iceland are tied with 16 points and right behind them Turkey and Ukraine each have 14 points. This will most likely come down to goal differential and even with that, three teams are tied with a +4. Croatia staying ahead with +9. Several games to keep an eye on are Turkey hosting Iceland on October 6th and Ukraine hosting Croatia on October 9th.

Plenty to be excited about over the next few days and many questions will be answered. Unfortunately, one question won’t be answered and that involves the Italian team. With two games remaining, Italy needs just one point to advance. Considering one of those games is at home against an overmatched Macedonia team, their chances are really, really good. But why oh why is Sebastian Giovinco not on the team?

It’s not like they are playing horrible soccer, but who else is better to come into a game as a 60th minute substitute when you need a goal? The Atomica Ant can not only create space for himself, but he is good at getting fouled in and around the box and everyone already knows how well he can take those free kicks. It is an atrocity that he isn’t on the team… or am I just being a homer?

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