Soccer Primer

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - — John Meyer, The Denver Post

Soccer of­fers a slew of “cup” com­pe­ti­tions that are of in­tense in­ter­est to fans of the sport but may be­wil­der those who don’t fol­low it closely, es­pe­cially be­cause they un­fold amid the Ma­jor League Soccer sea­son. Here’s a quick primer of the top cup com­pe­ti­tions in­volv­ing North Amer­i­can teams:

Na­tional teams

World Cup: Held ev­ery four years with 32 teams. It will be held next year in Rus­sia (June 14-July 15). Ger­many is the reign­ing cham­pion, hav­ing de­feated Ar­gentina 1-0 three years ago in Brazil. The CONCACAF re­gion to which the U.S. be­longs (North Amer­ica, Cen­tral Amer­ica and the Caribbean) is in the mid­dle of a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment that will con­clude in Oc­to­ber.

Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup: Held ev­ery four years with eight teams, the year be­fore a World Cup, in the coun­try due to host the World Cup the fol­low­ing year. Ger­many won it on July 2 in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, de­feat­ing Chile 1-0 in the fi­nal. Mex­ico fin­ished fourth. The U.S. did not qual­ify.

Gold Cup: A 12-team tour­na­ment held ev­ery two years to de­ter­mine the cham­pion of the CONCACAF re­gion. It be­gan last week and con­cludes July 26 in Santa Clara, Calif. There are three groups of four teams, and af­ter group play, eight teams ad­vance to the quar­ter­fi­nals. The win­ner of this tour­na­ment and the 2019 Gold Cup will play each other, with the win­ner of that game qual­i­fy­ing for the 2021 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup. Thurs­day’s games at Sports Au­thor­ity Field are sec­on­dround Group C matches. On Sun­day in San Diego, Mex­ico de­feated El Sal­vador 3-1 and Ja­maica beat Cu­ra­cao 2-0. The United States, which is in Group B, tied Panama on Satur­day and played Mar­tinique on Wed­nes­day in Tampa. Thurs­day at Sports Au­thor­ity Field El Sal­vador-Cu­ra­cao, 6 p.m. Mex­ico-Ja­maica, 8:30 p.m.

TV: FS1

Club teams

CONCACAF Cham­pi­ons League: A 16-team tour­na­ment in­volv­ing clubs from CONCACAF na­tions that qual­ify a va­ri­ety of ways. The Rapids will play in this tour­na­ment next sea­son, qual­i­fy­ing by virtue of fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the MLS Sup­port­ers’ Shield stand­ings last sea­son. They will be joined by four other MLS teams: Seat­tle, FC Dal­las, New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. The win­ner of this tour­na­ment plays in the an­nual Club World Cup.

U.S. Open Cup: The old­est soccer com­pe­ti­tion in the U.S., this one is held an­nu­ally, and like its name­sakes in golf and tennis, it is open to all teams. This year’s tour­na­ment started with 99 teams at all lev­els of soccer with 19 MLS teams get­ting byes into the round of 32. The Rapids beat Ok­la­homa En­ergy FC 3-2 in that round on June 13 but lost to FC Dal­las in the round of 16 on June 27.

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