OT: World Cup knockout games discussion

๏ปฟUse this thread to discuss all World Cup knockout matches that do not involve the USA (separate match thread here).

The Round of 16 matchups are as follows (all times Eastern):

Side A:

Netherlands v. USA - Sat. 12/3, 10 AM
Argentina v. Australia - Sat. 12/3, 2 PM
Japan v. Croatia - Mon. 12/5, 10 AM
Brazil v. South Korea - Mon. 12/5, 2 PM

Side B:

England v. Senegal - Sun. 12/4, 2 PM
France v. Poland - Sun. 12/4, 10 AM
Morocco v. Spain - Tue. 12/6, 10 AM
Portugal v. Switzerland - Tue. 12/6, 2 PM


Side A:
Croatia v. Brazil - Friday 12/9, 10 AM
Netherlands v. Argentina - Friday 12/9, 2 PM

Side B:
Portugal v. Morocco- Saturday, 10 AM
England v. France - Saturday 12/10, 2 PM

Argentina v. Croatia - Tuesday 12/13, 2PM
France v. Morocco - Wednesday 12/14, 2PM

3rd place:
Croatia v. Morocco - Sat 12/17, 10AM

ARGENTINA v. France- Sun 12/18, 10AM

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


Nobody goes 3-0 in group stage. First time since 1994 that's occurred.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Really? I figured the opposite. 6 points from two games should usually get you through and let you take your foot off the gas.

Yeah, most teams will go hammer down the entire tournament. Also keep in mind this is mid-season for nearly every player there. It usually is in the summer, so that's a factor.

But, it also shows how teams are compressing in their play. The gap between the top and bottom teams isn't what it used to be. Take for example Austalia that went to pk's against Peru just to qualify for the tournament but got out of the group w 2 wins.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

And the USA was the only team to NOT concede a goal (not including pk's) in the first 3 games.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

This is my school
This is home

Gotta go w what I said in the summer, Brazil over England. But given the craziness so far, I'm not holding my breath.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I think France wipes the floor with England based on how both teams have played thus far

So, Senegal v Poland it is

This seems like an odd take. I do think France is more talented than England but I don't think you could look at the group results and say France is head and shoulders better than England. France has scored 6 goals to England's 9. They've conceded 3 to England's 2. France lost (granted, it was a match that didn't matter) to Tunisia. England's worst game was a scoreless draw with the US in a game where they were really just sitting back and trying (successfully, I might add) not to lose.

Onward and upward

And I'm out......

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

USA over NED, especially if de Jong isn't over the flu
ARG over AUS a.e.t.
CRO over JPN
BRA over KOR
SEN over ENG in PKs
FRA over POL
ESP over MAR a.e.t.
POR over SUI in PKs

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

Australia almost with the great comeback but a Messi goal and a huge GK error is too much to overcome. Big, big save by Argentina GK Martinez in stoppage time to hang on to the lead. Argentina advance to face the Netherlands.

I'm still very unimpressed by Argentina. I think Australia is probably better than many give credit for, but after all this time, Argentinas plan is still just pass the ball to Messi and let him do some some magic. Most of the time that works because he's still really good! Won't win them the tournament though.

Probably not. I do like seeing how Argentina attacks though. When they get into the final third they try to run everything straight down the middle of the field while other teams just take it to the corner and give it across. Though to betray that last sentence, I though all three of Holland's goals were well executed

Crossing is a fine strategy if you are aiming for someone in particular. Too many teams (like the US) just kind of chip it in there and hope for the best.

Fair point. I haven't seen any team in this tournament cross well unless they keep it on the ground (hence the mention of the Dutch goals). It's been more likely to cause a mess in the middle, which - admittedly - can result in goals. I just don't see it as an intentional strategy, more like you said - swing it in and hope.

EDIT: The English goal in the 38' vs Senegal is similar to what we saw from the Dutch. Really good stuff

This through the middle strategy has been the death of just about every team Messi's been on since MSN was broken up after 16/17. It simply does not work consistently against top teams. You end up congesting the middle and making it easier to suffocate their attacks without actually committing more defenders to any one player. Messi runs himself into traffic, and then they get dispossessed because everything is so compressed you have so little margin for error on passes/dribbles. Width is an important part of the game, and having the ability to create width and switch the field does not automatically equal an only crossing strategy.

Messi is uniquely talented to run the ball through the middle. For Argentina, this is their best strategy. They still have the skill to play around the edges. It's actually a little funny to watch attacking Argentinians get free in the 18 around the edges of the 6 because the entire defense is literally watching Messi.

Width is important, sure, but the goal is in the middle of the field. The ball has to get there eventually. You can rip a shot from outside the 18 if you're near the arc but shooting at distance from wide is rarely a winning look.

So what's the consensus on today's games? Just pencil in France/England for the quarters or will one of the underdogs pull it off?

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I thought Poland looked pretty good and that France looked pretty disorganized all game but the French still managed to win by multiple.

I'm rooting for England but Senegal is no slouch.

I am not so sure about England. Senegal is underrated, especially overlooked since they are missing Mane.

England has the talent advantage to win anyway but Senegal is very well coached.

I am really liking what I'm seeing from England. They just look ... polished? Not sure the right word for them

They're nasty and it will be a disappointment if they don't win. (To them) I hope it never comes home :)

Yeah. That aged like a fine milk

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

In fairness, Senegal is well coached and they created some opportunities early in the game. Had they capitalized, the game might have gone differently. Once England got a lead they looked much more comfortable and their quality overwhelmed the Senegalese side. I like Senegal and I wasn't thrilled about having to root against them. I think they're going to be a pretty consistent World Cup team and I'm hoping the break through to at least the Quarters soon (like, within the next 12 years)

Onward and upward

It's been cool seeing African and Asian teams make the final 16. Today features two of those Asian teams (Japan vs Croatia and South Korea vs Brazil). There haven't really been any upsets yet but here's hoping one of those two advances today. At the very least, they should be good games.

Onward and upward

Asian representation in knockout play!

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

They might be gone, but I was impressed with what they showed, especially Japan. They might not be contenders but I can see them consistently getting to knockout stages in the future. They won a group containing Spain and Germany, after all. Granted this isn't a vintage German team but still.

yeah, it's too bad really. I never really thought SK had much of a chance against Brazil but I though Japan might advance. Croatia is deadly when it comes to PKs. I think the had like 3 straight knockout games in the last world cup where they were down early then came back to tie and force PKs and advance on PKs (including a win over England in the Semi-final)

Onward and upward

As we've seen in 3 of the first 4 knockout games, first one to 3 wins.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Looks like first to 2 wins


I hit post too quickly...the rest of my thought was that it shows you need goals and scorers to go through to the elite rounds in this tournament. That's been a knock on the USMNT. While I know there's nothing you can do to plant, water, fertilizer, cultivate a goal scorer, it is one thing on our wish list for 2026. 3 goals in 4 games is just not enough.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

That is not a new problem for the USMNT, unfortunately.


I know. But it does make me miss #8!

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Japan giving it away in penalties. 0-2

EDIT: Croatia hits the woodwork and Japan finally puts one in, 1-2

Japan chokes and Croatia ices it: 1-3 in four kicks

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Three times in the World Cup has a keeper actually saved three PKs - and two of them were Croatian!

Those certainly were some...penalty attempts.

Croatia advances to face the winner of Brazil v. South Korea.

Feel bad for Japan they played a really really good game just couldn't get the second goal. Croatia on pens is something you don't want to face

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

good lord... wtd did the Brazil team eat for breakfast?!?!?!

If they don't make the final it will be off luck for the other team. Straight up.

this is like watching a cat play with a maimed mouse at this point. Everyone knows what the outcome is going to be, its just a matter of how many more lacerations Brazil adds before it ends.

They're in full Jogo Bonito mode. They are out there playing backyard, flair & skill football to maximum Brazil style.

Feels like the Round of 16 is pretty weak this year. US was probably one of the most competitive teams and we were never really super close to winning. Hopefully they next round is a little better.

Brazil: maybe good at soccer

Sad thing is we probably out played Netherlands with the exception of not manning people up on crosses.

We had 3 solid goal scoring opportunities and only scored on 1. They had average/mediocre opportunities that turned into easy goals because a defender wasn't paying attention.

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

That's how soccer goes sometimes ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ can be a cruel game

Quality over Quantity, every time.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Yep- look at the first half. The US got the ball in front of the net several times, it simply got knocked away, we were scrambling, but pressured their net constantly- they just defended. Contrast that with their 2 goals- press upfield, crossing pass , easy goal. Much easier.

Yeah it got knocked away. Mostly by bad touches by our players. The skill gap is larger than that tweet does justice.

Zero underdog wins so far in the knockouts, tough for someone like me who roots for all upsets outside the US. Morocco may be out last shot

If Spain and Portugal win it's all heavy's in the quarters

Don't count Switzerland out. They're a team without stars but they are very solid tactically. If not for that deflection, they would have drawn Brazil. They could certainly beat Portugal.

there's still a chance. With 10 min left they came back from 2-0 to tie France and beat them in PKs in the Euros last year

but I think Portugal will cruise to a comfortable win, unfortunately.

Onward and upward

Hahaha just came back to this comment. I think not starting Ronaldo was brilliant. Morocco gonna have a tough draw with Portugal in the next round. Portugal vs England/France winner in the semis will be awesome

How much rage do you think Ronaldo has not being able to stat pad his career World Cup goal/Golden Boot tally with what could have been a hat trick?

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

Noticing that the underdogs (those that finished 2nd in their group) are losing every match, with the exception of Croatia on PKs. Is this normal for WC?

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

Not out of the ordinary honestly.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

yeah, I think this is reasonable. There are really only 2 to 4 really elite quality teams in these tournaments and those teams typically win their groups and the first round of the knockouts (This year, I think it's Brazil, France, and England). This World Cup in particular had a really good balance of groups, too. Aside from Qatar's group, which was predictably weak, the rest of the groups were fairly evenly matched. I don't think there was any true group of death this go round. And with three matches, you generally find the best teams in each group are going to win the group and it's not unreasonable to expect the winner of each group to advance past the round of 16. If you're going to see some group runners-up advance to the Quarters, it's probably going to be Spain and/or Switzerland. Both of today's games should be tight. It's not really that shocking that the top teams won their first knockout games fairly comfortably. I think the Final will be Brazil and either France or England. Those are clearly the best 3 teams in this tournament. On paper, I think Brazil would win against France in the final.

Onward and upward

Spain-Morroco has been a great game - going to PKs. I have a feeling Spain will advance here but if Morroco get through they are going to be a really tough out for everyone else on their side of the bracket

Onward and upward

After 2 it's looking like we're primed for an upset.

edit: HOLY SHIT. Did not have 3-0 on my bingo card.

it seems like an upset, but Morroco won their group and Spain came second in theirs. I think Morocco has a really good shot at reaching the Semis. Possibly even the final.

Onward and upward

Too much Barca DNA in that Spanish team.

The Moroccan GK...

"I said....bitch"

Hakimi with a cheeky penalty to close it out, love it ๐Ÿง


Wow, some more pretty terrible penalties. I know it always looks bad when the keeper saves it, but I don't get why more players don't go for more power.

Yes, Morocco won their group, but Spain was a favorite to win it all. This is a big, big upset.

(Also, the USMNT beat Morocco 3-0 over the summer...)

Chalk at this point would be France-Brazil final, and that would also likely be the most exciting match.

Really don't think Brazil wins it all. They definitely can get through Croatia (although decent chance that goes to pens). But I think the Netherlands get them in the semis

lol. wut? Brazil more likely to stumble against Croatia than Netherlands. I'm not even sure Netherlands gets past Argentina.

FWIW, I think the Semis will be Argentina vs Brazil and France vs Morocco. I think Brazil and France will advance to the final. I'm HOPING England topple France but that's a tall task. I think they have the talent to do it but it'll require some good fortune and I don't have high hopes that they can get it done. If England does get by France I think they will get to the Final. At this point, nothing would shock me, except Netherlands over Brazil in the Semis.

Onward and upward

I think Netherlands could do some damage to Brazil with their counterattacking strategy. That's sort of the great equalizer against more talented sides. If you can absorb pressure and not concede, and get quality chances via pace on the counter you can knock out a much better side.

To be fair, Brazil's defense might be the best in the tournament. It's going to be fun to watch as I'm not expecting a Spain like passaround to lull you to sleep in this one.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

To be clear, I'm not betting against Brazil at any point until MAYBE the final.

until MAYBE the final.

and that's probably only if they see France in the Final (which, 1] I sincerely hope doesn't happen and 2] if it does happen I will 1000% be rooting for Brazil)

Onward and upward

Yes, Morocco won their group, but Spain was a favorite to win it all.

Engalnd was also a favorite to win it all but how many people would have said that Senegal over England was a big, big upset?

Onward and upward

I would still have classified it as a major upset, although not as big as Morocco. Only because Senegal are current African champions and (although this is admittedly a poor reason) more names that I recognize.

I guess the next question is this - are there any BIG upsets in the Quarters? Would Morocco over Portugal be considered a big upset? Croatia over Brazil? What about Netherlands over Argentina or England over France?

Morocco won their group and played a solid game against a good team in Spain. Portugal has never played in the WC Final, so are they even considered a heavyweight? I'm not sure I'd consider this a huge upset based on the body of work in this tournament. But in terms of how European and South American teams have dominated the tournament since it's inception I think there is this idea that any team from another federation winning in the knockout stages is a big upset. I do think Morocco over Portugal would be an upset, but not a major one. More like VT over UNC than UMBC over UVA.

Croatia made it to the final in the last world cup. They are a scrappy team that finds ways to win. They do a fantastic job of frustrating their opponents. Being a European team that has (recently) played in a WC final I could see how, from a bias standpoint, this might not be considered a major upset. But at the same time, it's Brazil! Brazil has dominated world football since 1950 winning more WC Finals(5) than any other team and appearing in the Finals(7) more than any other team except Germany(8). Brazil is also the overall favorite in this tournament. I think Croatia winning against Brazil would be a bigger upset than Morocco over Portugal.

Netherlands, according to the fox Broadcast team (barf), is the "best team to never win a world cup" (they've been to the Finals 3 times, winning 0). Argentina have been to the Finals 5 times, winning 2. And they have a man broadly considered one of the best players of his time in Messi. I think Netherlands over Argentina would be an upset similar in scale to that of Morocco over Portugal. Not monumental, but an upset nonetheless.

France and England are fairly even, IMO. Both teams have won the World Cup but France has the more recent WC trophies and have appeared in more Finals than England. Both teams have an embarrassment of riches from a talent standpoint. Both teams are long-term stalwarts of the game. France is generally regarded as the better team right now, but I think the margin between them is much thinner than most would have you believe. I don't really think either team winning would be a true upset, even though the media will probably bill an England win as a significant upset. I would equate this to Michigan and Ohio State. Both are traditional powers with oodles of talent and both are capable of (and have won) winning it all. Both teams are also accused of being overrated and have had embarrassingly early exits in the past. And, they are rivals who despise each other.

On paper, you'd expect Brazil and Argentina to meet in the Semis with Brazil advancing to the Final, and ultimately winning the whole tournament. On the other side, you'd expect France and Portugal to meet in the Semis with France advancing to the Final to lose to Brazil. I think Argentina would be expected to beat Portugal in the third place match. So anything else would involve some sort of upset. Whether or not those upsets are BIG upsets is up for debate.

Onward and upward

I would say yes, Morocco over Portugal would still be considered a big upset. Portugal, interestingly, only qualified twice for the World Cup before 2002. That seems crazy to me given how much talent they have now! But that is really the only reason they're not considered a traditional heavyweight. They have had decent success in tournaments, winning Euro 2016, and have an immensely talented squad. That is why they are considered a heavyweight.

Furthermore, no African team has ever advanced beyond the QF. Ghana was the closest in 2010, foiled only by the infamous Suarez handball. That is a big reason why basically any team from Africa will be big underdogs at this stage in the tournament (the same would probably be said for any team from not Europe or South America). In the current format, no team outside of Europe or South America has ever advanced beyond the QF except South Korea in 2002 (SF).

I think now that Morocco has already had one big upset, another one would be less surprising. They've shown they are legit so while it would still be an upset, I think less so than v. Spain (traditional world power, previous WC winner).

Croatia over Brazil would be an upset - Croatia being as good as they are is a major anomaly considering the size of that country. Very few nations beating Brazil would NOT be considered an upset, especially when they are playing like they are right now.

I don't think the Netherlands would be an upset at all. I can't really explain why, but they have had so much historical success even without actually winning the WC. They are always producing top players and have produced some of history's most famous players. Argentina has similar history with the addition of a couple WC wins.

I agree with England/France being even. Are people saying that England winning would be an upset? I haven't seen that and I would strongly disagree. They are about as evenly matched as it gets in my opinion. France may be a little deeper in terms of national talent, but the difference in the top 26 players is negligible at best. Every team gets embarrassed sometimes. Soccer is a high variance sport, and most people only pay attention to the World Cup, which is between 3-7 games for a team. Just a miniscule sample size.

I think both nations would consider it extremely unlucky to lose in the QF based on the talent of their squad and how they are playing. And it is unlucky considering that they've been drawn against one another. No one would bat an eye if these teams were playing in the final. Of course the loser will be bitterly disappointed, but I will be down more to luck than losing to a better team.

Current FIFA rankings:
1. Brazil 1841.3
3. Argentina 1773.88
4. France 1759.78
5. England 1728.47
8. Netherlands 1694.51
9. Portugal 1676.56
13. Croatia 1645.64
22. Morocco 1563.5

Put the points in to show that there isn't a big compression in the say 10-30 range. Points still drop at a regular click.

So Morocco beating Portugal is a big upset on paper. Bigger gap than Netherlands beating Argentina.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Best game of the tournament so far? That was incredible

If football doesn't move you, I don't know what will. Bono FTW! Wow! And the cherry on top was Hakimi with a Paneka to finish it off, cheeky!

โญโญโญโญโญโญ #YNWA

Spain saw what Japan did yesterday with their terrible Pks and said: "Hold my saki".

What is going on with all these players pussyfooting their PKs? None of the balls kicked by Japan or Spain today had any pace and were glorified passes to the keeper. I bet half of the PK balls either Japan or Spain kicked would've beat the keeper if they gave it some pace.

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

Portugal making it look easy without Ronaldo

Onward and upward

I think there are some valid arguments as to why Portugal could potentially play better without Ronaldo at his age, even though in practice this has rarely been the case, but I don't think this match is necessarily the best example of things working better without him. Their first goal came off a throw-in and was a very low% shot that had difficult to replicate placement, and their second goal was a 39 yr-old CB off a corner. Neither of those goals were reflective of the potentially faster in transition, and "shapeless" style attack they can employ with Ronaldo on the bench. They haven't held much possession in the attacking third this match to see how it looks.

fair enough. Switzerland hasn't looked very good in this match. Their defense looks shaky and they look overwhelmed in the midfield. Offensively they've had a couple of nice build-ups end disappointingly with heavy through-balls. Switzerland is almost beating themselves as much as Portugal is beating them.

Onward and upward

Yeah I agree this may be a bit misleading in terms of the Swiss looking quite poor. Their defense was quite poor against Serbia as well.

I guess you can't count on a neutral nation to know much about defense :p

I thought this was a funny joke but if it's too close to politics I understand if it needs to be edited.

Onward and upward

So their defense was like their cheese?
Lots of holes?

From the 2018 VT-uva game-"This is when LEGENDS are made!"

Does Portugal know GD doesn't matter in the knockout stage ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคช

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Swiss fans as stoppage time starts:

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

The Portugal-Morocco matchup has just gotten much more interesting after today's results. Morocco has been exceptionally impressive in their tactical solidity. They've only conceded one goal all tournament and it was an own goal. Spain managed 13 shots, but only managed to put 1 on target. They have a few very good players, but overall they are one of the better teams in terms of playing together soundly within their tactical system. I think Portugal's offensive explosion today was a bit misleading in terms of getting some early goals and then the flood gates opening for a Swiss team that played very poorly after they conceded the first goal.

One might even say their defense looked like...

...Swiss cheese

I'll see myself out

Onward and upward

I made this joke yesterday as well.

Dad Jokes Unite!

If you had put "I'll SUI myself out" I would've lost it.

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

oh man! a missed opportunity. Or a Swiss, as I like to call it. Swing and a Miss

Onward and upward

The Quarterfinals are now set to begin on Friday so we have a few days off. Every team who won their group, except Japan, advanced to the quarterfinals.

My predictions:

Netherlands over Argentina
Brazil over Croatia
England over France
Portugal over Morocco

My apologies to those teams I picked to win since apparently everything I predict on this thread is wrong ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ But whatever happens, hopefully we get some good games, which it sure seems like we will. Some enticing matchups in this round

England over France

My apologies to those teams I picked to win since apparently everything I predict on this thread is wrong


I will forever blame you if France wins on Saturday. Just know that.

Onward and upward

I hope they both lose

Sorry! I need Saka to come back to London healthy and well rested. I regret nothing.

0 for 2...England and Portugal next. Maybe I can make some money off of this...

Well? Did you bet on Morocco after all?

Or at least now bet on France with this trend.

Sadly, no

0 for 3๐Ÿ‘€

I hope you go one for three.

Solely because I want to see England get even more hype about "iT cOmiNg HoMe," take Morocco for granted, and then lose on pens in the semis, as is tradition.

0 for 3. It's almost impressive. Here's hoping England doesn't make you go 0fer

Onward and upward

O-4 is truly impressive. Never pick England again, please.

Onward and upward

Not worthy of a new thread yet...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

The first paragraph of the article states that Berhalter is considering some European club options. So either way, his contract is expiring at the end of the month so of course there will be talks.

But my feeling was always that he will be back if he wants to come back. We might not all like it, but he had the team playing their best soccer in years at the World Cup, and those 4 games are how the managers are judged.

I personally think it would be best to move on, even though I think he did a fine job. 2-cycle coaches almost never work out and I don't think we should ever have one unless we stumble onto a really world-class manager (but in that case there's almost no way we could get them to stay).

But Berhalter might very well want to leave himself. I imagine coaching a club is far more enjoyable than an international team. I liken it to coaching in the NFL v. college. Sure, in college you have the loyalty to your school (country) but you have to spend so much time on talent ID and recruiting (in the US case) and get to spend very little time actually coaching. A tactics guy like Berhalter would probably much prefer coaching at a club.

This seems unlikely, but I wonder if both sides would agree to a short extension to get Berhalter through the March window. The pool of candidates and available positions are both shallow right now. It doesn't really make a ton of sense for either side to commit to making a move right now unless USSF wants to hire another coach from MLS (Jim Curtain would be a great option).

I doubt it will happen but it would actually be a pretty good idea I think.

Jesse Marsch time.

I'm going to beat that drum until tomorrow, when Berhalter gets a new contract, and we end up firing him 2 years before the world cup. Then Arena comes back, and we get knocked out of the first round in the world cup we host, and he gets fired again.

Vicious cycle.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I do believe we have broken that cycle. There was a lot learned from the fallout from Jurgen leaving, and I pray they've learned not to repeat it. There is some adult supervision in there now, so I think they'll find a fitting person for a good bit leading up to the 2026 WC on home soil.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Whatever they do, they need to not mess up so badly that they feel the need to change halfway through the cycle. That would be an absolutely catastrophic error. Unless we get absolutely rinsed at Copa America (seems unlikely to me), I don't see a mid-cycle change happening because they need to be on the same page tactically for 2026. This is a huge showcase for us and we cannot afford to mess it up.

As much as I would love it, the only way this happens is if Marsch gets sacked by Leeds very soon. It's probably impossible now that he survived to the WC break.

Berhalter is out of contract at the end of this month. Let's say either party decides to move on. Unless the USSF has a really good idea that Marsch will a) be available and b) would want the job over other club options, they have to hire someone to oversee the January camp and the March window. Those aren't super important windows, but the March camp is Nations League so it's not just friendlies.

They could appoint an interim coach. Last time, they hired Sarachan and he ended up managing for a year. I'm not sure they have someone in place right now who would make sense for that role. It's not out of the realm of possibility - there aren't a lot of coaches who are available right now because most leagues are in the middle of their season.

If they do appoint an interim - this is either very good news or very bad news. This means they have someone who they know will take the job but can't start right now (Marsch, other club coach from Europe) OR it means they have no idea who they're hiring but they need someone to hold the whistle for January and March camp.

To add on to this, Marsch has already shown he has what it takes to be a relegation emergency manager (the Sam Allardyce special) in the Premier League. And before Leipzig, he was regarded as a very talented young manager in Europe. If Leeds are dumb enough to sack him, I can safely say he would have several offers from European clubs in short order.

That's not to say that he would never take the US job. I think he's spoken in the past about having some level of interest. But right now, when he's a sought-after manager in Europe who's at the beginning of his career? It would be a pretty big surprise if he opted to switch to international management and a big gamble that he could get back in at a club after he was done.

Wish it was in South America but I'm glad it definitely looks like we'll be participating. Sorely needed with no qualifying this time around.

This is excellent! Not only that I may get to go to matches since it'll be in the US, but more importantly, it'll give our team competitive matches against someone NOT from CONCACAF. Especially since we host in 2026, we won't have any qualifiers so non-friendlies will be hard to come by.

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

Wish the confederations cup was still a thing

Nearly through the first half of Brazil - Croatia. Obviously both sides have the quality to make something out of nothing at any moment, but Brazil looks largely disinterested so far. This is here for the taking for Croatia if they can hang in it.

Personally, I think Brazil has looked much more likely to score, and the Croatia defending has been great, but far too many barely deflected shots, and too much time for Brazil in Croatia's box. Their defense is playing solid and cohesive between the defense and midfield, but they will be the ones to tire out first, and suddenly those narrow deflections or perfect defending falls off when you lose a half step to fatigue. Seems like Brazil will breakthrough in the 2nd based on what I've seen so far. Obviously, anything can happen in this sport, all it takes is one perfect ball from Modric in behind for a counter goal and Croatia has a lead.

Yeah I mean they're still Brazil so it's not like they look bad. Just not as sharp as I thought. The game is closer than I thought it would be.

Headed to extra time now...Croatia has them right where they want them

Both teams have won their last 3 PK shootouts in the WC...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I know, just a joke since Croatia hasn't won a knockout match in regular time since 1998. ET/Penalty specialists, apparently.

Croatia infuriates me for no other reason than their squad numbers. A winger with #4?! A DM with #11?! Fullback with #19?! Come on people, get it together.

I cannot believe Brazil didn't score on any of those chances in the second half.

What a GOAL!

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Croatia really should have scored first but it was blasted way over the bar. I doubt if they equalize but boy would that be entertaining!

an immovable object meets an unstoppable force. The PK shootout between these two would be very fun

Onward and upward


Onward and upward

I blipped on the game this morning and tune in until just now, but I knew this was going to be a good game. Fitting that it goes to PKs.... speaking of which... I'd love to get to PKs for some lunch. Get me some Cheetah Wings


that is a tough way to go out


Wow, can't believe Brazil are out. Amazing job by Croatia to shift mentality so quickly to equalize so late. Livakovic is inevitable.

Heads are going to roll in Brazil.

Yeah, but they view anything but a WC Championship as a failure, and as FIFA's #1 they probably should. But, Croatia is really good, and they are playing much better than their current ranking (IMHO) and seeing them in the semis shouldn't be a shock.

actually... i take that back. I just realized Croatia has only won a single game that hasn't gone to PKs. Maybe its better to be lucky right now.

Yeah, I know Croatia is really good. They were finalists last time. Not trying to discount them at all. But the expectation for Brazil is champions every time. They haven't done it in 20 years and they had a very good team. Not even making the semifinals will be seen as (and quite frankly is) a massive failure for them.

Gabriel Jesus got all sorts of threats and online harassment after the last WC just because he was the starting striker and didn't score. Even though he played very well. Brazil's fans are like SEC Football level of toxic/crazy - maybe more so.

But I was surprised to learn that, since 2002, only in 2014 at home (the embarrasing 7-1 semifinal loss to Germany) did Brazil advance beyond the quarterfinals. Every WC the pressure grows and IMO this was their best team in years.

Argentina's path just keeps getting easier. Will be interesting to see if they can make it count.

Unreal pass from Messi. Argentina up 1-0

This ref is horrendous. Bullshit pen for Argentina, then missed a clear pen for the Netherlands and should've given Argentina a red card for blasting the ball into the bench. The Dutch should be winning this, or at the very least tied with 11 vs 10

I think the pen was soft but there was contact.

However there definitely should have been a double yellow for the tackle and smashing the ball into the bench. This ref has made some veryyyyy questionable calls or no calls. Extra time would be fair

VB born, class of '14

Dude where was the contact though? It was minimal at best. Argentina has been hard fouling the entire second half. And had a clear hard foul in the box on an actual chance from the Netherlands.

If that amount of contact warrants a pen then you're giving out at least three a match

I read the "extra time would be fair" line, go back to Twitter for a second since I wasn't watching the game. I see "OMG Netherlands" or Argentina...and it's now in extra time. wild.

holy shit that equalizer was crazy!! what a call!!


VB born, class of '14

Reverse angle. So sweet, and in the final minute of play in a world cup

VB born, class of '14

Argentina just being assholes in the second half.

LMAO at that cheeky af 90+11' equalizer off the free kick.

The Dutch haven't exactly been class-acts either. I think I've seen more whining and flat-out aggression in this 2nd half+ from these two teams than I have from every other team the entirety of the tournament.

Anyone keeping count of how many yellows Argentina has. I think everyone got one.

Final tally, Argentina 9 yellow. Netherlands 8 yellow, with 2 leading to a red.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

According to the Washington Post, the final tally was 9-9, including each coach getting one.

18 in one game is a World Cup record. Amazing that only one led to a player being ejected.

What absolute big dick saves from Martinez.

Wow and Argentina moves on

This is my school
This is home

So sad!

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

This is crazy sad. Really bummed to hear as a fan of his work and also for his family.

Boy howdy it's not hard to imagine the conspiracies flying on this one.

Go Hokies!

His brother, Eric, is already saying he suspects foul play. This story is going to blow up and may become a lightning rod of sorts.

Onward and upward

Given the issues he had been dealing with since the minute he stepped foot in Qatar, especially after wearing a rainbow shirt... Yeah, I definitely wouldn't be surprised if he was targeted and killed.

This is my school
This is home

You'll need the translate tweet function here:

The last tweet translation is odd. It translates to serum, but can also mean to be an IV. He did complain about feeling sick, and having chest pains.

I'm not trying to jump to conclusions, but I doubt foul play. The last thing FIFA and Qatar want during the tournament is the death of a foreigner covering the event. His admittance to having an illness, and his body hurting points to an issue that crept up on him. From a reader's POV, you knew he was a relentless journalist. He went to Qatar to cover the World Cup the only way he knew how.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

What an absolute nightmare for his family and friends. Definitely in my prayers. Grant was a great sports journalist. Really enjoyed his work over the years covering soccer and other sports (he use to do some college sports before focusing on soccer). Really hope foul play isn't involved but your head does go there given the circumstances. However, I did see a clip circulating on Twitter from his podcast where he said he had been sick with bronchitis while over there and was getting better. Maybe it wasn't bronchitis but maybe like a pneumonia. I've heard cases of certain kinds pneumonia can kill a person unexpectedly if not caught and treated in time.

Considering there are hundreds of thousands of travelers in a country that's smaller than NJ, where you could attend 4 games in one day, I'm sure there's a multitude of viruses causing people problems at the tournament.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Unbelievable. My Twitter feed is full of journalists talking about how much he meant to the game and helping out other writers. He was a giant of the soccer community. I really can't believe it, man.

Feel bad for Netherlands. I don't hate Messi but I do hate Argentina. With Brazil out they have to feel pretty good. I really hope Croatia takes them down.

Would be interesting to see Croatia-France in the final again. Has there ever been a repeat finals like that?

Edit. I looked it up and it has only happened once. In '86 and '90 Argentina and West Germany both made it to the finals in back to back tournaments. They split the series.

I think it's unlikely we get a repeat of the last wc finals but if we do I'll be rooting hard for Croatia.

Onward and upward

Bad news for Morroco, Nayef Aguerd supposedly has a tear in his thigh muscle and is expected to miss today's game. He's been a key part of their defense and will be a big loss for them.

Fernando Santos electing to keep Ronaldo and Joao Cancelo on the bench to start again. I've never thought much of him as a coach but it takes some guts to keep one of your most notable players on the bench for a key match like this. And on top of that he's benched Ronaldo.

And that decision likely costs Portugal a spot in the Semis. Unbelievable to keep Ronaldo out of any part of this game only to get shut out. Just insane levels of mismanagement

This is my school
This is home

I mean Ronaldo is pretty much washed at this point so idk

I see what you did there -- hard to imagine they're better without cancelo on the pitch

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I read from others who watched the rest of the game that he still doesn't look 100%. Great hit though.

Diogo Costa doing his best Zack Steffen impression on that goal

Wow, Morocco with another massive upset, becoming the first ever African team to make the semifinal.

Have to imagine most neutrals are pulling for them.

Can we please have a Morocco-Croatia final?

Their group stage match was kind of a snoozer. But I would love to see it!

TIL that Morocco was the first country to recognize US independence after we declared and allowed US ships to port. And is home to one of the few (if only) US Register of Historic Places locations outside of the US.

Oh, and they are the first African country to send military aid to Ukraine, which they did just this morning.

So... Like they have a bunch of good karma built up, I guess they're my new favorite to win it all.

This is my school
This is home

Marrakesh is also an amazing city. Unlike anything you'd see in Europe outside of Spain, really.

I really don't want France or the Three Lions to win it, so give me Croatia v. Morocco. The two leg parley on that being the final had to have had crazy high odds before the start.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I was quite right about the last Portugal match being more about the Swiss being poor. They made a huge error to not start Ronaldo, Leao, Cancelo, and probably one of Palhinha/Vitinha from the outset. Morocco's tactical setup prevents what the previous lineup was able to take advantage of. You're much better off having a target in the box for 90 minutes against a team setting up that way, and there was little to no benefit to high press in a match like that. They just tired themselves out. It was all kinds of backwards.

Banger alert from Tchouameni! 1-0 France

Saka wins the penalty and Kane converts to level it up!

Has been a heck of a game so far. This whole round hasn't disappointed.

Giroud with the header deflecting off Slabhead to take the lead with 12 mins to play! England are simply not equipped to deal with a man that handsome.

Hernandez gives away a needless penalty taking Mount over in the area.

But Kane skies the penalty! France remain in the lead. What can you say, this is the history of the Tottenham

English lion when he wins, spursy when he loses... quite convenient. Not like the whole country hasn't bottled tournaments in recent history

VB born, class of '14

I mean personally I dislike him all the time


VB born, class of '14

slytherin-lookin mouth breather!

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Why on earth would they take off Saka? He's been their most dangerous player...

I've been thinking the same thing. I think they did it in previous games too. Maybe he just doesn't have the fitness to go for 90 minutes? Odd choice by the manager.

Doubtful. He basically has no backup at Arsenal so he's been playing pretty much 90 minutes every week this whole season. Unless he picked up a knock during the tournament

UNC kicker makes an appearance.

Yes,that's the Hokie Bird riding a camel. Why'd you ask?

All things considered, England completely choked that away. That was their game to win and they absolutely blew it

This is my school
This is home

Man I really could have made bank by just fading my own picks

I feel like it's more impressive/difficult to be completely wrong than right.

Excited to see your picks for the semis and final.

Yes,that's the Hokie Bird riding a camel. Why'd you ask?

Went 1/4 on "things I want to happen" in the quarters. Sports are primarily pure pain and suffering for me.

Argentina > Croatia > France > Morocco is my rooting order for now.

The book on Saka is "kick him in the ankles every time and they'll only call 60% of them". Absolutely unreal how abused he gets out there, club and country both.

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

That was unreal - how did you not call some of those? I replayed one in the 1st half, and he had 1 foot in the box and 1 out, and was wiped out with what should have been a yellow card tackle, yet no call at all. The first goal for France started with a foul on Saka that was again, not called. Kudos to him, he was amazing + like gladish said above, he was England's most dangerous looking player today.

Hokie fan | W&M grad

Happens every week for Arsenal too. Rarely any cards given either.

Mine is France (historic repeat possibility, Mbappe is the most fun player to watch) > Croatia (Lukita <3) > Morocco
(would be such a historic achievement for the entire contient) > please god spare me from the living hell the internet will be if this actually happens for the Messi fanboys who think this sport is an anime and Messi is the main character.

spoken like a true madridista

edit: i def want messi to get one to put to rest the (laughable, imo) use of international success against him in conversations about his legacy. after that, give me Modric getting a big win bc he's incredible and deserves one. then France bc they're good + giroud and saliba, then morocco. nice fairy tale story if they win, but they're already a nice fairy tale story just by making the semis over Spain/Portugal in the Iberian Colonization Derbies

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Morroco > Croatia > Argentina > France

I'd love to see someone outside Europe and South America to win the cup. I hate Argentina but I like Messi. I hate France more.

Onward and upward

this is the correct order, yes

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Braxton Burmeister, Ryan Willis, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

Agree almost 100% except France over Argentina (just barely). Argentina has played dirty as hell, one of the most fouling and diving teams in the tournament. I have no love for France but I'd rather see them repeat than any of these Argentine players to raise the trophy, even Messi

Picks for semifinal:

Croatia over Argentina 1-1 pens
France over Morocco 2-0

I've been pretty consistent in that I don't think Argentina is that good. And I'm going to die on that hill. I think Croatia is set up better tactically and still has superb technical quality all over the pitch. Unless Messi does a madness, I think it's Croatia (probably in penalties because that's just what they do).

I think it's the end of the road for Morocco. It's been a great story, but I think France just has too much for them to overcome. They were already short on defenders going into the Portugal match and another CB got hurt. Their luck runs out after a magical run.

I'm afraid if I bet against myself I'll jinx it, but you all feel free to go ahead and fade me.

Rooting interests:
Argentina > Morocco > Croatia > France

Would like to see Messi get it in his last World Cup. I strongly suspect France will beat Morocco (of course they've been surprising everyone so far) so if Argentina isn't in the final, I will probably end up rooting for Croatia.

France just doesn't look coordinated. They seem disorganized compared to everyone else. Surprisingly I think Morocco has the most defined style of play given the teams remaining. Should be fun before France inevitably wins it all.

I wouldn't describe France as disorganized or uncoordinated, rather they are using a very atypical setup for a country/side of their talent level. They only play with two real midfielders (Rabiot and Tchouameni) in the counterattacking 4-2-3-1 that Mourinho used to devastating effect about a decade-ish ago. They've been doing this for awhile, but they've never had a healthy group of mids for one of these major tournaments. I wonder if no Kante and Pogba from injury has made them opt for only two true mids OR do they just really wanna get Griezmann on the field in that 10 role. Either way, they are playing 4 true attacker setup every match so far. They don't really want to dominate possession necessarily, and don't need to in order to create chances. I do think they probably could hold the ball and dictate the tempo better in a 4-3-3, but I think their setup is fine for a NT knockout tournament, imo.

This will create an interesting dynamic against Morocco though. They will probably have to hold the ball in attack and break them down in the final third more often.

Gregg came out and said there was a bad apple in the team room and practices. Lots of speculation it was Gio, which if true, would explain him hardly playing. Not going to completely say it was him, but would give reason. And, if so, then don't expect him to get a lot of rope in the future.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Yeah, just saw a bit more. Yedlin and Long had to pull him aside to speak to him about his lack of effort and bad attitude. He chucked his guards when not selected to sub in against Wales. And it got so bad Greeg and crew considered actually sending him home.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Players voted 13-12 to keep him there.

This is a pretty crazy story. Assuming everything is true, it definitely explains the lack of minutes. And tbh, it sounds like Gregg handled it the right way (although we are only getting 1/2 of a side of the story). When he was out there he didn't look like himself. Initially thought that was the injury (and it might have been a factor in his lack of effort in training).

A couple things:

- This story never should have gotten out. Apparently Gregg was speaking at some conference or seminar or something and it was supposed to be off the record. But the conference or some associated outlet published it. He should know better than to trust that something like this will stay private. It's tough for me to see a way him to continue managing the team going forward after this leak.
- It sounds like Gio needed a kick in the pants to change his attitude. Who knows why he wasn't giving the necessary effort in training- it could be injury fear, it could be frustration with not starting, it could just be youthful naรฏvetรฉ. But whatever it was, it sound like it was really bad and maybe this whole ordeal can help him improve his professionalism. His body language has always been a talking point.
- I'm a little shocked the team did as well as they did with all of this going on.
- We officially have an insane soccer locker room controversy story. USMNT has arrived, baby.

Now Twellman is saying the vote thing is false. Someone alleging to be a friend of Weston McKennie held a Twitter space dropping a bunch of dirt (possibly all made up). I've been asleep so I have no idea what's going on. Who knows what's going to happen, lol.

My 2 cents to the GGG out campaign going on following this is this was a closed door summit where it was to be kept behind closed doors and someone leaked this for either money or attention and to me this isnt on gregg. If the player was acting like that then what they did was right and people should give the coach a damn break. He had a big issue going on with one of his stars at a world cup and still kept it together.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Yeah, this is fully on Gio. Big tournament and you have to be an adult. Although, looking at what his dad, it's not shocking. He ran his mouth in the lead up and at the beginning of the WC.

I think Gregg handled it the way he thought best. Do you keep someone moping around or send them on a plane home and have THAT circus in the media and all?

Maybe the vote is made up. Maybe it's a hybrid of the coaches voting. Maybe it's dead on the nose. Either way, sounds like Gio has either made a decision for himself that he'll be playing club soccer for some time or will need to prove to the next coach (even if that is Gregg) that's he committed to the team and all that involves.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

I think Gregg handled the situation correctly and very well. I think talking about it, even though it was off the record and not actually mentioning the player by name, was unwise. Unless he is on his way out the door with another job lined and was doing it to try and motivate Gio for the good of the future team, I don't get why he did it.

Wow, it's been a hell of a ride.

Morocco in there as a Cinderella, France and Argentina still in as highly rated contenders. Croatia still looking good.

Congrats to Morocco, but I'd like to see better play out of France, and an ultimate France win.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Shame on GB for "leaking" this situation.
Shame on GB for having the thought that Gio doesn't have a roll, or only has a small role, on this squad.
Shame on GB for taking him and not prepping him prior to November of his role.
Shame on GB for just accepting that we don't have a 10...he should be out there coaching/mentoring our guys. Hey, watch so and so, play more like him...i want you to create opportunities in this space...move towards the near post when x,y,z....

And shame on Gio for reacting like a petulant little kid and allowing GB to hold a vote, or whatever transpired. Chin up, work harder, show him he's wrong. Scrap that...show the NEXT guy that GB was wrong about you, and everything that has been said prior to the WC was true and deserved.

Whole situation sucks. But at the end of the day, to me, it shows that GB is not that guy. He served his part. He moved us forward. Time to turn it over to the next guy for the next leg of the race. It's no secret I've been critical, but I also have been supportive of him and the squad. Let's get the next guy in there that will manage what we have but also help them improve at their clubs. 2026 could be very very special.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Shame on GB for just accepting that we don't have a 10

We have multiple 10s - Gregg just doesn't play a true 10. Despite midfield being our deepest position, we don't have much variance there.

I think this whole thing post-tournament has backfired on GGG. During the World Cup - probably handled the situation as well as he could. I strongly question the tactics of predetermining that Reyna would have a "very limited role", if true (I take Reyna at his word here). Especially considering we ran MMA into the ground by the knockouts. But that's a different matter. I also question why you'd tell any player (especially Reyna) that you aren't planning to use them very much prior to any games even playing. If you're calling them up, you need to keep them mentally ready to go in at any moment.

Gio comes out better in all of this I think. The narrative could've been that he's a whiny entitled brat that hasn't earned his platitudes yet. The recent year of injuries/not playing combined with his body language paint the picture. Admits he had a bad attitude when he found out about his "very limited role" and then owned up to it after being called out by the coaches and players after the Wales match. Unprofessional to slack off in training, but I want a competitive guy that's going to be pissed off about not getting minutes (especially over Morris tbh). I can't fully hate on that, especially since we've seen that GGG doesn't change his mind easily once it's set and usually to his detriment. Dude has to be devastated to finally get a run of games after most of a wasted year with injuries and then get told "nope, not going to play you." And he's still only 20 - I get he's been a professional for years, but I can get over him having a big ego and being a bit hot-headed.

I don't think much of GGG as a manager (I maintain he's way out of his depth), so I'm biased, but all of this coming out in the way that it has seems self-serving. I don't think he's that naive to bring up a story obviously about Gio to a room full of people and assume it won't get leaked. Not to mention the Athletic article and all the other media coverage on this incident. Seems like a betrayal of the locker room for this to get out and so soon.

The only logical explanation for why he was pre-determined to have a limited role is injury, or if you're last on the depth chart like Roldan or Sean Johnson. With how much Berhalter played Gio when he was available during Nations League/qualifiers, it's clear he doesn't rate him lower than Morris on soccer talent (which would be utterly ridiculous).

I think what happened is that Gregg didn't want to cause another injury setback for Reyna by exposing him to a large amount of high-intensity minutes in difficult conditions. Now you might say "this is the World Cup, if player is fit to play you play them." I would agree and don't agree with Berhalter's decision if that was the rationale (I don't really agree with it regardless of the rationale). Berhalter is very close with the Reyna family given his playing days with Claudio and with the amount of devastating injury setbacks Gio has had in the past couple years, I sort of get where he's coming from if that's why he decided Gio would have a limited role (again, don't agree).

What baffles me (if true, etc) is breaking this news to Gio right before the tournament and not in September or even the weeks before the tournament. Why wait until the last minute to deliver what you know will be very devastating news? And, once again, the decision to speak about this to anyone outside of the players and staff remains completely incomprehensible.

On Gio's side, I completely understand his reaction. I understand him saying that he's 100% even if it might not be true. He should never have been giving low effort in training, and of course he knows that. But his statement was classy (even if it was written by a PR person) and he comes out of this whole thing looking 10000x better than Gregg.

Even if USSF wanted to re-up Berhalter (I think they probably did), I personally don't see how you can now. This whole thing is becoming a huge saga, and even though he probably handled the in-tournament fallout correctly, the aftermath is a disaster and I don't see how the players would be okay with him continuing.

This is where you and I differ on Gregg. He constantly switches up tactics, lineups, approaches...everything. You believe he didn't want to cause another injury. I believe he altered the tactics which took Gio out of the picture. And waited until the last minute to tell Gio.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

He constantly switches up tactics, lineups, approaches...everything.

Yeah, I'm going to jump in here on the disagree side.

Tactically: he's largely been inflexible on the 4-3-3 during his entire tenure. Big issue there considering our inability to find a 9 that fits his system, and our inability to break down low blocks during CONCACAF qualifying. Refuses to play with a 10 despite two of our best players being attacking mids (Reyna and Aaronson). Had one or two experiments with other systems early on (some 4-4-2 and 3ATB) but largely abandoned them. Absolute tactical masterclass against England though; completely nullified their midfield with our hybrid 4-3-3/4-4-2.

Lineups - took a B team to the Gold Cup which is pretty typical for us. Rode the MMA midfield to death with little rotation during the world cup and during qualifying when they were all healthy/not kicked out of camp. Took way too long to phase out ineffective players from the squad. Got his 1st half lineups right for pretty much the entire World Cup, but man his substitutions sucked. Makes way too many like-for-like subs when we need a different approach, subs too late, and is generally too reactive instead of being proactive.

He's a great dual-nat recruiter and kept up the appearance of a cohesive group that enjoys national team duty.

Lineups, not formations. I'm not sure he ever started more then 2 or 3 games with the same lineup. And it was something silly like 50 different ones in his first 50 games at the helm. Yes, he was steadfast on the 4-3-3. But those he plugged in there were always changing.

As for the tactics, he always played to the opponent. Instead of playing our style and having at it. He played way too much to the other side. Heck, he even switched it up AT the WC...sending Robinson up the wing instead of Dest. He tinkers, a lot. And the England game was maybe the best I've seen from him. But it was a long time getting there, and completely different than anything he rolled out previously. That's why I said he is always switching it up.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Lineups, not formations. I'm not sure he ever started more then 2 or 3 games with the same lineup. And it was something silly like 50 different ones in his first 50 games at the helm. Yes, he was steadfast on the 4-3-3. But those he plugged in there were always changing.

I think a large part of that has to do with injuries. I don't recall us having the full starting XI available for almost any of qualifying. But that's a lot of work to go back and look up, so I'll just agree to disagree.

Sure there are some small tactical wrinkles (England game notwithstanding) but I think his DNA is pretty obvious on the attacking end, which I have the biggest issue with. Get the ball into the final 3rd either by one of your 8s carrying it forward or having your striker hold the ball up. Then get it out wide to have your wingers and fullbacks overlap and try to put a cross in. It was a) predictable b) very inconsistent from our wide players (Weah was good and Dest was decent. Pulisic is meh at crossing and Jedi is terrible) and c) frequently lacked an actual scoring threat (Ferreira is never getting on the end of a cross in the box and McKennie often started the play too deep to make a late run). Occasionally Pulisic would moonlight and make something happen (or get in transition where he might be close to world-class), but the only attacker who consistently looked "good" in the system was Weah. As in, he looked as good as or better for country than club.

I think that last point might be my biggest gripe with GGG - how often did players look "greater than the sum of parts" under him? Especially our attackers?

I'm talking about his entire tenure. Not just a 3 game group here and there. I'm talking from day one he never duplicated a starting lineup. And that includes during Cups as well.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Also in the month leading up to the World Cup, Reyna played 386 of a possible 630 minutes for Dortmund. If his club is going to play him and give him regular minutes (and starts!), then they must think he's fully fit. We're all worried about his durability but the injury thing is nonsense from multiple angles.

He also only played more than 66 minutes in one game, and never played a full ninety. I think it's a combination of Gio would have played as a right winger in the team, and Berhalter either rated a fully fit Weah ahead of a still working to full fitness Reyna, or Berhalter thought Tim's style (more runs in behind, stretching the field) was a better fit than Gio's (drifting centrally more) since it would jam up the middle with Pulisic doing similar things. Gio doesn't bring the defensive work rate to play as one of the eights over Musah/McKennie, and he's never played as a false nine. Maybe there are other ways Berhalter could fit Gio into a different formation, but Gio's been hurt for a lot of/most of the US games the past couple of years, and the tactics we used fit pretty well for most of the starters.

I don't disagree that he has been a tinkerer. But one of the only realistic reasons I can think of that you would tell a player who is (by default because of the number of players in the squad) that he's going to have a very limited role ahead of time is that you know his fitness isn't going to improve enough in that time period to change your comfort level. Like what if Tim Weah gets injured in the Wales match and Weston has a setback? Aaronson has to start in midfield and Reyna is all of the sudden starting at RW (or at the very least sub #1 if you want to go full conspiracy theorist and believe that GGG actually rates Morris over Reyna).

The most logical explanation is that his limited role was injury related. Gio didn't agree with the caution and reacted poorly. It's just not logical to make the "limited role designation" ahead of time before a ball has been kicked for any other reason.

uhhhhh.... Argentina looks like a machine right now

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Wow, what a run and goal by Alvarez. Horrific attempt at a clearance by Sosa.

Not watching because in a meeting, but apparently Croatia decided to break out some clown shoes defending. Fun!

Absolute clownshow from Croatia. Every goal has been embarrassing for the Croatia defense. The last one they let Alvarez stand still unmarked in the box for 5-6 seconds.

Outside of Morocco's magic run and a few moments from Mbappe this has been a largely unenjoyable knockout stage for me.

Being robbed of the Brazil-Argentina rivalry match in the semis so we could watch a non-threatening Croatia team slowly die at the hands of comically embarrassing defending from Lovren.

Having England and France forced to meet in the QF.

Glad to see Argentina win. Hoping for Morocco too. Either way I'm pulling for Argentina in the final. Their second goal today was fantastic (aided with some sloppy defense inside the 18). Liked the third goal too.

I'm cheering for either Morocco or France to win it all. Underdog or back to back.

Love messi but the love in over this run is exhausting my excitement after what was an absolute dud of a game. At no point did it feel like Croatia were really in this and unfortunately the last round was the drama round. Tomorrow's game could be just as tetchy or one sided, I hope not but France haven't turned it on yet and all the talent eventually they should have a good game.

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France will come in guns blazing to put the match away early. I will pull for Morocco, but don't expect them to have a pulse by the end.

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, Former Naval Aviator, Former FBISA, Forever married to my VT87 girl. Go VT!

I'd like to see France live up to the hype.

Morocco has had a great run.

Mostly, I'd like to see a good game.

Well, that was a fast goal for France.

That Morocco bicycle attempt that hit the post deserved to go in just for how pretty the strike was. Or at least it needed to be put back by one of the two Moroccans who just watched it bounce of and scoot past them

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I was saying the same thing; however, I wondered if both players were in an offside position. I didn't see a good replay angle.

โญโญโญโญโญโญ #YNWA

good call. Looking again, they were both the only players in the 6 so they would have been off

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Deserves got nothing to do with it.

Well...it should be an interesting final...not sure how Mbappe made that pass....but man...France has a crap ton of talent!

Edit: S/N, Konate eating these boys up. I'm baffled they played Upamacano over him. Looking like Gandalf out this bish...insert You shall not pass.gif

โญโญโญโญโญโญ #YNWA

as a defender, you absolutely cannot get off the hip of someone hanging out in the box like that. You keep your chest on his shoulder or at least a hand on him. Instead the defender got caught watching Mbappe school his teammates and let the attacker squirt behind him.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

let the attacker squirt behind him.


France finally looked like the team we thought they were.

Well. Uh. Go Argentina. I guess.

Onward and upward

What a great story Morocco was. Would like to see more African teams do well. Morocco has a talented squad so I expect they'll be back strong in 2026 (assuming they can keep hold of their manager).

As for France - Argentina, I personally don't have any preference between the two of them, so I just hope we get a good spectacle of a match. France won 4-3 over Argentina at the last WC so that bodes well. Would love to see Messi get his title but it would also be cool to see France repeat, plus Mbappe is very likable, Giroud/Saliba for the Arsenal connection.

I predict France 2-1 Argentina. So, congrats to Argentina!

Had Croatia and Morocco in the neighborhood pool. Went from - I could have a big payday to welp, I'm glad I got my entry back pretty fast over the past 2 days.

I told him Iโ€™d crawl on my hands and knees to be the DL coach at Virginia Tech. Now, all of a sudden, Iโ€™m sitting in this chair and I told him Iโ€™d still crawl on my hands and knees to work here. I just want to be here.
JC Price

Amazing set piece by Croatia to go up by 1, then before I could finish typing Morocco answers to tie 1-1. Setting up to be a fun game on a Sat morning!

Croatia breaks the tie with a well struck first time floater by Orsic.

Third place games are always fun because it's a mixture of not caring and trying ridiculous stuff. Living up so far

Yep, it's generally one of my favorite games each World Cup because of the craziness like you mentioned.

Ice cold by Messi.
But now cue 60+ minutes of theatrics by Argentina

VB born, class of '14

So far they've been keeping the pressure on and taking it to France. They're feeling it right now.

Holy hell what a clinical counter ๐Ÿ”ฅ
Messi -> Alvarez -> Mac Allister -> Di Maria
Half the field in five touches

VB born, class of '14

That goal was spectacular. One touch passing the whole way except one player who took a momentary control touch. What a great goal.

That passing was like me playing FIFA on a lower difficulty. Just beautiful

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Yep. They're just hitting on all cylinders right now.

Oof they just subbed out Dembele and Giroud in the first half

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Absolutely hate it for giroud, he's been so solid. More an admission from deschamps that he set up wrong

France just look so flat

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Yeah hate it for Giroud. Dembele was absolutely rinsed for that first goal.

Agree that Deschamps got his formation wrong, possibly all those injuries finally impacting the squad?

VB born, class of '14

Mbappe: not so fast my friends! 2 in 2 wow

VB born, class of '14

That escalated quickly.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Wow. France with 2 goals in a matter of minutes. What a finish by Mbappe.

Holy gazoones!

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Holy shit. Holy fucking shit

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Well that really escalated quickly

Kylian M'Fin Mbappe, have yourself a day sir

Quality strike from Mbappe. 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in sports

We literally all thought that Messi strike was going in...

I thought he called game, no doubt

Go Hokies!

I thought the prevoius Mbappe strike was going in, too

What an insane sequence to finish regular time. Back and forth, exciting as I've ever seen.

Dammit. Argentina was dominating for 80 minutes but couldn't close it out

Qatar does not deserve a final this good.

Edit: Qatar doesn't deserve any of this, but here we are.

Go Hokies!

A lot of people died for this to happen

Not sarcasm

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The last couple of opportunities for Argentina in the first half of extra time were heart pounding. I love seeing them attack the middle of the field with their short passes and movement.

Oh my God how did Argentina not score at the end of the first OT

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I guess they were waiting for the beginning of the second OT :D

It had to be him.

Go Hokies!

Lot of little Lionel's being made in Argentina tonight...

And Kylians in France

Jesus Christ...

Maybe an emiliano or two

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Omg omg omg the DRAMMER

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Yeah I guess thats a penalty but I hate it

hat trick!

It just keeps getting better ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Go Hokies!

The one on one save from the Argentinian keeper.
The break on the other end with the wide header
Mbappe beating two guys to almost get a final shot off

This has been the best game I've ever seen.

I'm not a soccer guy. I appreciate it but I really don't care or follow it

With that said...this is one of the best sporting events I've ever watched

No matter how this game ends I really think Argentina has looked the better team. If not then I just like watching how they play.


Congratulations, Not France

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Braxton Burmeister, Ryan Willis, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

Landon Donovan, who I dislike, during the postgame:

France looks like an ok team with a really special player and Argentina looked like a great team with a really special player

Landon Donovan has the personality of dry beige paint

VB born, class of '14

I prefer him to Lalas, who just can't shut up

Agree to an extent on style, but Lalas will actually tell the truth about the US team. For Donavan, every result besides a multiple goal loss is a good one

Donovan is so dry. And thinks the USMNT is never as good as what he put out there.
Lalas is like Stephen A. Smith. Talks a lot, has verbal diarrhea, is right part of the time, but it's overshadowed by the other stuff he says.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Best World Cup Final Ever. Ever. I don't want to hear it from England. Y'all stole one against Germany, and lost in 1776.

Messi is the greatest of all time. ๐Ÿ

We are blessed to witness his greatness. Messi, Cristiano, Modric, I'm missing more, but this was quite the curtain call on one hell of a soccer generation.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Overall best world cup I've seen in 50 years of watching. SO many close back and forth games especially in the knockout stage. Cinderella stories. Favorites losing. And winning. Huge comebacks1 Really had it all.

Plus still feels cool being one of 1-2 billion people watching the same thing. (like the Battle of Bristol on a larger scale-even though that was in person)

From the 2018 VT-uva game-"This is when LEGENDS are made!"

The hell is up with that robe they made Messi put on to get the trophy

Lol FOX just cut the 4K feed the second the trophy was lifted

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That final match was excellent. You couldn't write a script any better. Play on the field for the World Cup in general was very good. So many exciting moments, upsets, etc. Qatar never should have gotten World Cup but the men on the field put on a great show.

Get your ass on the ground and we'll party

Can't believe he did this! One of the announcers, I think it was Rob Stone, stammered when he did it. And the main camera was directly pointed at him from the front, it wasn't even like a side shot, it was a straight up mockery in full view for the entire planet. Dude is still 14 years old and it was hilarious. Wonder if it violated Qatar's decency laws.

Since I mentioned Rob Stone, I should also say that as far as the announcers were concerned, I thought Alexi Lalas was our only functional soccer announcer. Landon Donovan is a waste of space but had a quote here or there. I think Clint Dempsey was on set but I don't really remember him saying much.

But I didn't expect much from Rob Stone. I thought he was like a generic announcer for all the American sports and that he'd be a mess but I was pleasantly surprised. He bumbled and stumbled through a few things over the course of the tournament but he was definitely serviceable as a play by play announcer for the average American fan. 7/10, better than I expected.

EDIT: Went back to look at the moment he did it and it's here:
Rob Stone says "Oh no..." and then no one else says anything LOL

Rob stone did play by play?? I thought he was in studio with Lalas + Dempsey.

I believe the final was called on fox by John Strong and Taylor Twellman

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Honestly I have no idea, they all sound the same. No one is great but that one person was functional

Whoever was on the play by play did an admirable job

John Strong did the game, and he's done it for 300+ games, became an American voice, since so much of ESPN and Fox use British play by play

Rob Stone did the studio hosting, and he's been an MLS personality since ESPN2, The Deuce days. He did play by play for a while, but he's been a solid sideline guy for a couple of decades. Became studio host when MLS got their Fox contract, and he's done very well.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Rob Stone previously was to Fox Soccer what Rebecca Lowe is to NBC's soccer coverage, as well

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Awesome, thanks for filling that in for me, both of you.

Speaking of shots on the live broadcast, did anyone else catch the blonde Argentina fan that was topless after the game? Only a side shot, but they were...real and they were spectacular?

The guys she was with held a big homemade blue flag up as the camera panned downed, but I laughed, hopefully she gets out of the country without being detained due to that places decency laws.


I love sports

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Let's team him up with Bill Roth to call the Virginia Tech games.

"Vick, dashing back . . . here he comes again . . . Electrifying . . . and have you ever seen anything like this?"

The most beautiful sport ever, I don't care what anyone says...long live the ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท

(Was in church missed the final, caught it on DVR ๐Ÿคฃ)

โญโญโญโญโญโญ #YNWA

Was gone all day and had to wait to watch the replay...wow. By far the best World Cup match I've ever seen and for sure one of the best matches ever. I'm glad Messi won, he deserves it. Could really care less about the rest of the Argentina team, although I do like Emi Martinez. But the main thing I took away from this game is - wow it is special to watch Mbappe play. He is an absolutely unfair, alien player. I know that's not exactly breaking news but he is just special. Sad for him, but he did everything he could and then some.

On another note, I believe I picked one (1) correct winner from the QF on, so I guess you could say I'm pretty good at this. Probably going to quit my job and be a sports bettor full time.

Mbappe has himself a World Cup already, and a billion+ people just watched how much of a beast he is.

I'm sure he's sad right now, but he'll be alright

Edit: and also tons of money

Mbappe is the closest anyone may ever come to prime LW CR7. I love watching him play.

Thanks for joining everyone! Come hang out with us in the other soccer thread here. Basically any and all soccer discussion from the ongoing club seasons lands there. EPL kicks back off on Boxing Day!

Best final in forever, thats how extra time should be chaos end to end edge of your seat stuff. Glad for Messi to finally get his trophy and dont mind seeing france out.

Qatar taking messis moment to make him where that veil was fucked up though and genuinely pissed me off.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

I feel like the PSG locker room next week is gonna be Zoolander, with Mbappe being the one that walks up to the podium after they called Messi's name.

Dont forget now Neymars the one without the world cup trophy as well.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it