Get a sneak peek at upcoming match-ups with our weekly previews! We’re sharing behind-the-scenes insights for each game this weekend, September 23-24, at:
- Ramp Playground (3300-40 Solly Ave)
- South Philly Supersite (11th & Bigler St)
- Gratz Supersite (Germantown & Hunting Park Ave)
- 48th & Spruce
- Germantown Supersite (Sedgwick & Lowber St)
Ukraine vs. Panama – Saturday, 2pm
Unfortunately for Panama they will be relegated to the role of spoiler this weekend as they have been eliminated from knockout play. Ukraine needs to win to guarantee a spot in the knockout round: a loss combined with a Ghana win, and they are out. Expect Ukraine to come out on a mission much like last weekend to take early control and to earn their spot in the knockout round.
Ghana vs. Brazil – Saturday, 4pm
By the time these teams take the field for warm-ups Ghana will know their fate. Brazil already knows theirs … they are moving on. The question becomes: will they find their way directly into the round of 16, or will they have to battle their way through the play-in weekend? If Ghana is there to play out the string, then Brazil will cruise to an easy win. If Ghana has something to play for, Brazil may be in for a battle.
USA vs. Honduras – Saturday, 6pm
Honduras is in, that much is known. USA will in all likelihood get in, even with a loss, but when relying on tie-break scenarios… anything can happen. Rumor has it that Honduras is a little banged-up on the defensive front, so they may not be at full strength in this match. That’s bad news, because team USA found their rhythm against Togo last week and now has some talented goal scorers on the front line. Expect a tightly fought battle, but in the end, USA secures their spot in the knockout round.
South Africa vs. Serbia – Sunday, 2pm
One of the most wild groups is Group E. Liberia came in as the favorite, but finds themselves in a struggle (more on that later). Meanwhile, two new participants will battle for a shot at the knockout round. A Serbia win and they are in; a South Africa win, and the tie-breakers should work in their favor, but nothing is locked in until after the Liberia-Venezuela game, which will be at half by the time this match kicks off.
Vietnam vs. Nigeria – Sunday, 4pm
Thanks to a week 1 tie with Lithuania, Nigeria must win this match-up to stay even with them. Vietnam will be looking to spoil Nigeria’s plan to move on. With Lithuania set to battle the defending champs, Nigeria has to like their chances of moving on, but a Lithuanian loss coupled with a Nigerian win doesn’t guarantee it. If that’s the case, the dreaded tie-break scenarios will come back into play. Nigeria better not take Vietnam lightly, since Vietnam played both Ivory Coast and Lithuania tough in the first half.
Mongolia vs. Algeria – Sunday, 6pm
Group B has proved to be the biggest enigma of the tournament to this point. If the games in Group B fall a certain way, all four teams will have identical 1-1-1 records. Mongolia is looking to make sure this isn’t the case against Algeria. Both teams in this match struggle to score, and both play fantastic defense. It wouldn’t be surprising if the first team to score ends up winning the match 1-0. The good news for both these teams is that the Jamaica-Belarus score will be in by the time they take the field.
India vs. Sudan – Sunday, 8pm
This match-up is the true definition of playing out the string. Unfortunately, both teams are 0-2 and have no chance at post-group play. Sudan gave it their all but came up a bit short versus Argentina last week, while India is still looking for their first goal of the tournament. Both teams will be competitive, wanting to leave on a high note, but Sudan has a little too much in the tank for India to keep up with in this one.
SOUTH PHILLY SUPERSITE
Mexico vs. Ireland – Saturday, 8:30pm
In perhaps the marquee game of the weekend, Mexico and Ireland will battle for Group K supremacy, right after the much-anticipated block party. This is truly a battle of two contrasting styles – the technical and precise style flexed by Ireland vs. the free-flowing, high-energy pace of Mexico. The outcome of this match will be contingent upon the team who can exact their style of play on the opponent. One thing to note: in the event of a tie, Ireland will hold the tie-break with least amount of goals allowed.
Guatemala vs. Italy – Sunday, 11am
The match for Group C dominance will take place early in South Philly Sunday. Neither of these teams have looked particularly dominant in going 2-0 in the group stage. Both had to work for their wins over Thailand and the Refugee Team. Italy revamped their roster for this year, and it seems to be more defensive-minded than offensive-minded. Guatemala has been able to score, but hasn’t done anything overly impressive. If Italy can play at their pace and slow down Guatemala they’ll win the low-scoring match; if it becomes a shoot-out, Guatemala will take the group.
Togo vs. Myanmar – Sunday, 1pm
Myanmar has an outside chance of pushing through to the next round, and since USA plays Saturday night they’ll know exactly what they need to do to march on. In their way is a hungry Togo team who has yet to break through into the scoring column this year. This will be a fun match to watch as both teams like to get up and down the field, so expect a lot of goals being scored and a frenetic pace.
South Korea vs. Cameroon – Sunday, 3pm
Another match-up with two teams eliminated from knockout round contention. Both teams played admirable games in losing to Ireland and Mexico, but sometimes the draw is not your friend – which was the case for both these teams this year. This will be another exciting match to watch, but South Korea’s defense will be a little too strong for Cameroon to penetrate.
Indonesia vs. Morocco – Sunday, 5pm
Morocco couldn’t quite hold to their lead versus Puerto Rico, otherwise this game would mean a lot more than it does. Indonesia will bring the spirit and fans to cheer them on, win or los,e and Morocco now knows what it means to compete in the Unity Cup. Both teams will use this game as a springboard to help prepare for next year. Morocco should come out on top since Indonesia has trouble finding the back of the net, but in a game where not much is on the line anything can happen!
Cambodia vs. Israel – Sunday, 11am
Another one of the 0-2 match-ups this weekend. Both teams came into this year’s tournament with higher hopes than a single win. Unfortunately, they drew into a group where that just didn’t happen. Israel is the stronger of the two teams in this one, but don’t fall asleep on Cambodia: they have enough weapons on the front line to leave Unity Cup 2017 on a high note.
Senegal vs. Colombia – Sunday, 1pm
Group H is another group where both games matter, never more so than this matchup between Senegal and Colombia. Colombia has been a scoring machine over their first two matches. Senegal came out with a heart-breaking loss to DR Congo after lighting up the scoreboard in week 1 against France. The group is wide open, and a loss by either of these teams could see them on the outside looking in come October.
Puerto Rico vs. Greece – Sunday, 3pm
The second of three huge matches in a row at Gratz gives us what should be one of the prime matches for the weekend. Greece comes in a highly disciplined team, they play tactical soccer, but will take the foul when they know they’re beaten to regroup. The flip side of the coin is Puerto Rico, who play the high-energy, high-tempo style, much like Mexico and Colombia. The first 15 minutes will determine the type of game the fans are in for. Puerto Rico does have the experience of a quarterfinal run last year, but Greece’s discipline should win out in this contest.
Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina – Sunday, 5pm
The final match of day is not only a 2-0 match-up, but a match-up of two teams with familiarity. Both these teams are among the older teams in the tournament, and with age comes wisdom… and in this case, perfect first two games! Argentina was taken by surprise when Sudan held them to a 2-0 victory last week. Bosnia made quick work of India after easily handling Sudan in week 1. Stamina may be an issue in this one, and look for Bosnia with more young, fresh legs to pull it out late.
48TH & SPRUCE
DR Congo vs. France – Sunday, 11am
At this point, France is simply playing for fun, while DR Congo is playing to keep their knockout round hopes alive. On paper, and likely on the field, this game will be a blowout. The good news for France is they have “spider man” in goal, who at one-point last week saved 21 of 25 shots on goal. At some point the dam will break, and Congo will be in position to be playing in two weeks.
Liberia vs. Venezuela – Sunday, 1pm
The defending runner-up from 2016 is on the ropes. Lucky for them, they get a reeling Venezuelan team that is only playing to shock the world and keep Liberia out of the knockout round. Liberia will not go quietly into the night and will come out with cleats on fire. Watch out, Venezuela, the sleeping giant may have finally woken up and is hungry … for a win.
Ivory Coast vs. Lithuania – Sunday, 3pm
Lithuania is looking to make the knockout round after narrowly missing it a year ago. Ivory Coast is looking to keep their winning streak alive. Ivory Coast is in, Lithuania needs to win — and could need some help. Even with a loss, Lithuania can still move on as long as they keep Ivory Coast off the scoreboard often. Ivory Coast will win this one, but Lithuania should do enough to play in October.
Thailand vs. Refugee Team – Sunday, 5pm
Two really good stories match up head-to-head in this one. The Refugee Team has been well documented, but Thailand has a story of their own. Not many know, but the Thai team consists of players that were settled in the US thanks to the National Services Center (NSC), the same organization to put the Refugee Team together. Thailand has more talent and cohesiveness, but the Refugee Team is primed to turn around their losing ways. If nothing else, the familiarity of these teams with one another should make for some good theatre.
Germany vs. Ethiopia – Sunday, 11am
Germany seems to be the class of Group F. Ethiopia can change that with a win Sunday, and in doing so, eliminate Iraq from post-season contention. Germany is one of the top offensive and defensive teams over the first two weeks. Ethiopia has struggled to score in both games. If they don’t find a way to score more than four goals it will be a long morning, and Iraq will have a fighting chance as they watch time wind down before they take the field.
Bhutan vs. Iraq – Sunday, 1pm
A schedule maker’s delight. Iraq will be there in force to see the result of Ethiopia and Germany and will know exactly what they need to do to move on. Bhutan is a feisty team, with past successes in the Unity Cup, so don’t be surprised if, while Iraq is focused on the Germany-Ethiopia game, Bhutan comes into Germantown and steals a win.
Jamaica vs. Belarus – Sunday, 3pm
Back to the mystery that is Group B, both teams control their own destiny and could put the entire group into a tailspin depending on the outcome. The stats say that the younger, quicker Jamaican team should be able to put enough offensive pressure on Belarus to win this game. Belarus has been locked into low-scoring stalemates through the first two games. Expect a tie game at halftime, but Jamaica to pull through with a goal or two in the second half to help them secure the group.
Sierra Leone vs. Haiti – Sunday, 5pm
The final match of the weekend in Germantown has huge implications on not only Group A, but the entire knockout round. Neither Sierra Leone nor Haiti have given up a goal the entire tournament. They have combined to score 26 total goals. The winner of this game has a legitimate chance to be the #1 overall seed in the tournament. This is a must-see match-up that is too close to call, just be there to see the action!