(WVUE) - With the 2018 World Cup on FOX 8 kicking off June 14th from Russia, we are previewing ten storylines that are worth keeping an eye on as the tournament goes on.
#2 - North American Neighbors
As Wednesday's 2026 World Cup vote showed, North American soccer countries must unite to advance the game. America joined forces with Canada and Mexico to present a plan to host 80 games and won the FIFA vote handily, in the end.
Mexico is the only country of those three participating in the 2018 tournament but fellow CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) teams Costa Rica and Panama will represent the region in Russia.
Mexico figures to have the best chance to advance, ranked 15th in the FIFA World Rankings and in a group with Germany, Sweden and South Korea. Mexico has reached the knockout stage in six straight tournaments but hasn't advanced to the quarterfinals since 1986, when they hosted.
Costa Rica beat Greece to advance to the quarterfinals in 2014, their deepest run in program history. They enter Russia ranked 23rd in the world and grouped with Serbia, Brazil and Switzerland.
Panama is enjoying their first-ever World Cup berth. They face slim odds of advancing ahead of Belgium and England but their group stage finale against Tunisia could be the perfect opportunity to get the country's first World Cup win under their belts.
New Orleans Jesters head coach Kenny Farrell was on FOX 8's Final Play recently and explained the importance of CONCACAF teams doing well. "I think it's important that we start to get good results with all of our teams at the World Cup so that we get better favor in the world going forward from FIFA," said Farrell.
FOX 8 will broadcast 38 games from Russia, from first kick to final trophy presentation. The first five games on FOX 8 are:
Thursday, June 14th at 10 AM – Russia vs Saudi Arabia
Friday, June 15th at 10 AM – Morocco vs Iran
Friday, June 15th at 1 PM – Portugal vs Spain
Sunday, June 17th at 7 AM – Costa Rica vs Serbia
Tuesday, June 19th at 10 AM – Poland vs Senegal