For the first time in the brief four-year history of the Unity Cup, team bye weeks (off weeks) have been in play as part of the tournament. While this enables teams to rest injured players and enjoy vacation, it also totally changes the dynamic for the final weekend of group matches. Let’s take a look at who has already qualified, who is officially eliminated, and who needs some help (from others or themselves).
Teams that have qualified
Currently, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the only qualifying teams with zero goals allowed throughout the group stage, and have the inside track to the coveted top-6 seed, giving them a path directly to the round of 16. Other teams that have qualified to date are:
Six teams will receive a pass directly on to the round of 16, while 20 others will compete in a play-in round the weekend of September 7 and 8.
Teams that need help
In group E, Brazil rules the roost, with Vietnam and Panama both hoping to advance. It is pretty simple for Panama; they win and they’re in. For Vietnam, they would have to pull a monumental upset on Brazil and hope for a Panama loss or draw.
Group G might as well come down to a coin toss! Ireland has advanced by blowing out two opponents, but everyone else in the group has tied one another. The key for these teams: just win, then figure out any tie-breakers later.
Group H is pretty straightforward. The winner of Jamaica and Belize will get in.
Group K is chaotic. Colombia is in, but if the other three teams all finish 1-2, then the tie-breakers start. And with all teams playing within one goal allowed of each other, the fair play rules may come into play!
Thanks to some field issues, we can’t dive into Group L. Just know that their fates may be decided by a special Friday night game on August 30.
Group M has defending champs Liberia, who have already qualified. If Greece can manage a win or draw against the defending two-time champs, they are in, and they will have earned it!
Teams that are eliminated
At this point, fifteen teams have been eliminated, but they aren’t done playing. For the first time, the Unity Cup will be holding an all-star game. So even the eliminated teams can have representation on the field at Talen Energy Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Union, on October 12. More details to follow!