The delayed start of the 2022 Qatar World Cup has soccer’s biggest stage arriving in the midst of the United States’ largest sports flurry, affectionately called by some: Sportsmageddon.
The World Cup joins the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football and basketball for a packed holiday sports calendar. Even though Ohio sports betting won’t launch until the very end of the Christmas season, there will be plenty of action leading up to that celebration on New Year’s Eve.
If you’re a fan of the beautiful game or someone who wants to get in on the action for the first time, PlayOhio has prepared an Ohio-focused World Cup Preview to prime you for the next month of soccer.
Ohio’s World Cup base
Lower.com field, home of the Columbus Crew, will be the World Cup home base for Ohioans. The central Ohio venue is a choice setting, relatively equidistant to all points in the state and offering a tremendous watch party experience for fans.
The Pub at Lower.com field will likely be packed during every match, but fans who can’t get a seat in the pub can also watch all games in the plaza outside the venue.
To add to the fun, Lower.com field is hosting Pride & Glory: A Global Soccer Celebration Presented by Nationwide. Before the opening game (Ecuador vs. Qatar, Sunday, 10:30 a.m. EST) the Crew will host a resource fair for members of the community in need of health and wellness resources. Kids will also have the opportunity to play soccer on the Lower.com pitch.
Sure to be one of the biggest days at Lower.com field, the USA vs. England match on Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. EST will feature live music, food trucks, and plenty of other entertainment in advance of the game. People will be setting up early, so plan on making the trek out for this one in plenty of advanced time.
FC Cincinnati hosting watch parties, too
Ohio’s other MLS side will also host USMNT watch parties. FC Cincinnati’s gatherings will take place at The Banks near Great American Ball Park. The area is a designated district where alcohol can be sold and carried around.
Matches will be shown on a big screen above the Reds Hall of Fame Museum. There will be giveaways, prizes and food and drink specials within the party area and at surrounding bars and restaurants.
Buckeyes representing in Qatar
The notable Buckeye connections to Qatar start at the top with USA Coach Gregg Berhalter. The ex-Columbus Crew coach (2013-2018), has helmed the USMNT since 2018.
Berhalter’s greatest success with the USMNT to date has been the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the men’s squad won the championship. After missing the World Cup in 2018, Berhalter and Team USA arrive in Qatar with a revitalized U.S. squad poised to do damage in the knockout stage.
Along with Coach Berhalter, the Crew are sending one player to Qatar: Defenseman Milos Degenek will represent Team Australia at the World Cup.
Degenek is Croatian born, but his family emigrated to Australia in 2000. He played internationally in Germany, Serbia, Japan, and Saudi Arabia before joining the Crew this year.
World Cup awards to know
Aside from hoisting the World Cup trophy, there are a number of exciting other awards to follow during the tournament. These are individual awards that recognize top performances throughout the month of football. Here are the big ones to know.
Not to be confused with the Golden Boot award, the Golden Ball goes to the tournament’s overall MVP. This could be an offensive or defensive player or a goalkeeper who has done the most to lead his team to victory.
It doesn’t necessarily go to the winning team’s best player, either. This year, Messi (Argentina), Neyman (Brazil), and Kylian Mbappe (France) are the early favorites to take home the tournament’s top individual award.
This award goes to the tournament’s top goal scorer. It’s that simple. In the case of a tie between two or more players, there are a series of tie breakers.
Harry Kane (England) and Kylian Mbappe (France) are the odds on favorites here.
The tournament’s top goalkeeper receives the Golden Glove award. This award combines both statistical success and expert opinion. FIFA’s Technical Study Group looks at performance data throughout the tournament to decide on a top performer.
The odds on favorites for this year’s Golden Glove are Allison (Brazile) and Thibault Courtois (Belgium).
So you want to host a World Cup Office Pool
Another great way to engage with the World Cup is by hosting a pool at work or with friends and family.
While a lot of people are familiar with March Madness pools where you fill out a single bracket and follow your picks, World Cup pools require a bit more work.
We’ll cover two different approaches. The first requires a single round of selections, and the second requires two rounds of selections — for both the group and knockout stages.
Single Selection Pool
This pool setup requires the grouping of World Cup teams into eight four-team groups. All participants in the pool select one team from each group and then follow their picks throughout the tournament.
However, the groups DO NOT follow the World Cup groupings. They are broken down based on Vegas odds or by FIFA rankings — your choice.
In this organization, the top four favorites (Brazil, Argentina, France, England) go in Group A, the next four (Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal) go in Group B, and so on down to Group H.
The participant who scores the most points based on how all their chosen teams play wins the pool.
The important strategic aspect of this pool is that every team in groups F-H receives double the points. So, picking the right long shots is key to success.
- 1 point for each goal scored, regardless of round.
- 1 point for each point earned in group play (teams get three points for a win, one for a draw, zero for a loss)
- 8 points for winning a group
- 4 points for finishing second (and advancing out of the group stage)
- 12 points for reaching the quarterfinals
- 24 points for reaching the semifinals
- 36 points for reaching the final
- 48 points for winning the final
Following current Vegas odds, the eight groups would look like this:
Double Selection Pool
This pool requires two rounds of selections — one during the group stage and one during the knockout stage.
In the Group Stage of the tournament, each participant ranks the final outcome for all eight World Cup groups (A-H). There is a bonus for getting the order of the group completely correct.
Group Stage Scoring System:
- 1 point for guessing a team’s position correctly
- 2 points for guessing an entire group’s order correctly
After the group stages, all participants then fill in a traditional bracket with the remaining 16 teams.
Scoring for this stage can be both weighted or unweighted. In the unweighted scoring system, all correct picks are worth one point. In the weighted system, points increase as the tournament progresses.
- 1 point for guessing a round of 16 winner
- 2 points for guessing a quarterfinals winner
- 4 points for guessing a semifinals winner
- 8 points for guessing the World Cup winner
Points totaled during both group and knockout stages are added together to determine a winner.
The winner receives an old soccer boot full of the beverage of their choosing, or some other inferior prize.
The website poolhost offers an easy way to organize this type of pool.
Watching the games live will require some late nights — or early mornings
With an eight-hour time difference in Qatar, some group stage games will start bright and early. From Nov. 22-28, the first games of the day begin at 5 a.m. EST, followed by matches at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
From Nov. 29-Dec. 2, all group stages games will take place at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.
All three USMNT matches are set for 2 p.m.
- USA vs. Wales: 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21
- USA vs. England: 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25
- USA vs. Iran: 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29