The United States faces Belgium in the Round of 16 in less than an hour, and when you watch the game you're bound to see a lot of Belgian flags in the crowd. But fun fact! Those flags are all wrong — at least according to Belgian law.
Five years ago, 10-year-old Ethan King traveled to Mozambique, Africa, with his father. Dad repairs non-functioning water wells in impoverished African villages, so when he went to rural Mozambique in 2009 Ethan tagged along.
To help pass the time while his dad worked, Ethan would kick around a soccer ball that he brought with him. The local kids took notice of the ball. They loved soccer, but Ethan discovered they played with makeshift balls made of trash, plastic bags and twine.
Ethan shared his ball with the other kids and invited them to play. Five kids joined at first, then 50. And when Ethan saw how thrilled they were by the sight of a real soccer ball, a life-changing idea was born.
Now 15, Ethan is the founder of Charity Ball, an organization he began in 2010 that donates new soccer balls to kids in developing nations. When someone donates $25, a child in a developing country is hand-delivered his or her own brand-new, quality soccer balls.
The World Cup knockout round began this weekend, with Brazil, the Netherlands, Colombia, and Costa Rica all moving on to the quarterfinals. Here are some of the must-see top plays from the matches!
Group play of the 2014 World Cup is officially over, and from the opening match to the final day, it did not disappoint. The Group of Death lived up to its name, the Brazilian humidity lived up to its expectations, and now it’s time to buckle our seatbelts for the knockout rounds. Before we get there, though, let’s see what went down in the final week of the group stage.
Calling the second week of the World Cup a roller coaster ride would be an understatement. Late-game goals — or more accurately, last second goals —became a theme, and the first team to secure a spot in the Round of 16 was one that nobody could have predicted.
Early on in the week, Mexico played host team Brazil to a 0-0 draw, with Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa making some improbable saves, one off a header by Neymar that looked destined for the back of the net before Ochoa got a hand on it. Spain, the defending champion of the last three major international tournaments, was eliminated in a 2-0 loss to Chile, and a tough England squad fell to a stunning performance by Luis Suarez, who scored two goals in a victory for Uruguay. And Costa Rica shocked international soccer fans with a 1-0 victory over Italy, becoming the first team to make it to the knockout round in an extremely difficult group.
Iran played more than 90 minutes of flawless soccer against powerhouse Argentina, but Lionel Messi scored in the 91st minute, the first of two thrilling finishes this weekend. The other came at the end of yesterday’s US-Portugal game. Read more about that stunner here.
If you missed the numerous edge-of-your-seat thrillers this past week, don’t worry. The final games of the group stage are coming up, and there will be no shortage of excitement. Here are some games to keep an eye on.
Up 2-1 on Portugal on Sunday, the United States was seconds away from the impossible. With a win, the Americans would earn a spot in the knockout round of the World Cup — something no one that could happen in Group G, the Group of Death.
But after a Michael Bradley turnover in extra time, Portugal star Christiano Ronaldo came up big for his country. He hit a perfect pass to Varela, who sent a diving header behind US goalie Tim Howard to tie the game. Seconds later, the referee blew the whistle to end the game.
The American dream of advancing in the 2014 World Cup would have to be put on hold.
Coming into the 2014 World Cup, Chile and Spain were two teams most people agreed could make a serious run at the championship. But after facing each other this afternoon, Chile's 2-0 victory earned the country a place in the knockout round and brought Spain's dream of back-to-back titles to an early end.
"I’m very happy with the effort the players put in," Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "We worked very hard on how we might beat Spain and we managed it."