Winners: The top 6 teams (Brazil, Serbia, Ghana, El Salvador, Liberia, Honduras)
Each of the top six-seeded teams will not only get to avoid the dreaded play-in round, but they benefit from a few weeks off and a refresh on any cards they accumulated over the group stage. Each team finished at the top of their group, allowing two goals or less (Brazil and Serbia allowed none). In some cases, the tie-breaker worked in their favor. We’re sure all six teams will be out scouting next weekend as they prepare for the Round of 16 battles on September 8 and 9 at Ramp Playground.
Losers: The 26 teams that failed to advance
It is the true nature of sport and competition: someone wins, someone loses, and someone gets eliminated. For 26 countries, their dream ended on Sunday. Some were heartbreaking (see: Argentina, Haiti, and Venezuela), and some already knew after last week’s matches. Regardless, the beauty of the Unity Cup is that their tournament is not over. Every team is invited back to Talen Energy Stadium on October 13 for championship day to participate in the Parade of Nations celebration, and some will be honored at halftime with EPYSA Fair Play Awards for their disciplined play during the group stage. They may have all been eliminated in 2018, but we know they’ll be back next year, looking for another chance to win the cup!
Winners: The newcomers
Seven of the eleven newcomers to the Unity Cup have qualified to move on. El Salvador leads the newcomers with the #4 overall seed, going 3-0 in their group and allowing only a single goal. Guinea and Mali also won their groups as newcomers. The others (England, Albania, Saudi Arabia, and Belize) all had very strong group stage showings but couldn’t quite take the top spot. The good news for some of these teams is that the first two Unity Cup champs were not undefeated in their group, and the fact that this is their first year in the tournament means they might catch a sleepy high seed by surprise this weekend!
Winners: Central America
All but Guatemala failed to move on from the Central American teams. Led by two strong title contenders– El Salvador and Honduras– the Central American teams seem poised to dethrone the African teams in this year’s tournament. Be sure to keep an eye on Belize; they have a match-up that (on paper) favors them against Israel. Perhaps we will see all three move on to the Round of 16… and beyond?
Losers: South America
Brazil is the sole South American team to push through to the knockout round. Lucky for South America, the continent can save face with Brazil as the #1 overall seed in the tournament. Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela were very close to making it through, especially Venezuela who allowed two goals to France (a shutout and Venezuela would advance). All three teams should be back strong next year, as well as Peru, who didn’t win a group stage match but are young and hungry and will definitely fine tune for Unity Cup 2019!
Winners: The fans
The Unity Cup would not be what it is without the loyal fan base that has been there since day one. We are happy to announce that the fan base has grown, and there was an increase of over 1,600 fans through the group stages compared to a year ago. We encourage all communities to get out and not only support their team, but to also come out and support some great soccer for FREE!