It’s time to start thinking about the World Cup.
The 22nd quadrennial celebration of soccer is only about two months away. It will be held from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18 in Qatar.
The U.S. will compete in the 32-team field. This will be the Americans’ 11th appearance in the World Cup, but the first since 2014. They didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The U.S. schedule
The Americans are in an eclectic Group B along with England, Iran, and Wales. The top two teams in the group will move on to the tournament’s knockout stage. England (5) is the only team ranked higher than the U.S. (15) in the group.
The U.S. will open against Wales on Nov. 22. The Americans will face England on Nov. 25 and Iran on Nov. 29.
Group B is the toughest group in the tournament, at least on paper. Still, the U.S. is expected to advance to the knockout stage despite worries about injuries to key players on its backline.
Midfielder Yunus Musah, center-backs Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Chris Richards, and left-back Antonee Robinson will miss upcoming friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia because they’re hurt.
Here are some other facts to think about as you’re staying up all night to watch the World Cup games.
— This will be the first World Cup to take place in the Arab world and only the second in Asia. Japan and South Korea were the hosts in 2002.
— It’s very hot in Qatar during the summer, so for the first time, the World Cup won’t be held in May, June or July. It’s also the first time the World Cup will be held during the fall in the Northern Hemisphere. How hot is it in Qatar during May, June and July? The average high temperature there is 102 in May, 108 in June, and 108 in July. The average low temperature during those months is 81, 84, and 88. How about November and December in Qatar? The average highs and lows are 86 and 77 and 70 and 61, respectively.
— The first match in the 2022 World Cup will be between Qatar (51) and Ecuador (46). It will be played in Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
— The championship game is scheduled for Dec. 18, which is Qatar National Day.
They are trailblazers
— There will be women referees for the first time in World Cup history. The trailblazers are Stephanie Frappart from France,, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda, and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan. Frappart was the referee for the Women’s World Cup championship game in 2019.
— There were 2,424 goals scored during 865 games in the three years of qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup for an average of 2.8 goals per game. Total attendance for the qualifying games was 8,912,978, an average of 10,304 per game.