Author: Abe Asher

Abe Asher lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon. He fell in love with the intensity, stakes, and unrivaled spirit of football during the 2006 World Cup. Abe supports and covers the Portland Timbers locally, the USMNT nationally, and the American game and national team football at large for World Soccer Talk. Abe is on Twitter @abe_asher.

What to watch for at the 2018 World Cup

The World Cup squads are set and twelve stadiums in eleven Russian cities are ready to host 32 teams competing for the globe’s greatest prize. Though the finals are yet to kick off, this tournament has already seen its share of drama. Argentina, for one, likely wouldn’t be involved if not for the heroics of Lionel Messi. His hat trick in the final game of qualifying in Quito secured his team’s place on a day that started with the Argentinian health ministry issuing instructions on how to avoid heart attacks during the game. But not every nation had Messi to ... Read more

World Cup groups A-D predictions

Editor’s Note: With the World Cup fast approaching, Abe Asher takes a look at groups A-D and predicts who’ll finish first through fourth as well as offering his games to watch and players of note.   Group A 1. Uruguay Uruguay came comfortably through qualifying and are headed to a third straight World Cup with the same spine – Muslera, Godin, Suarez, and Cavani – that led them at the last two. This time with the addition of a bevy of promising new midfielders. The blend of youth and experience in this team is hugely promising and should make easy ... Read more

World Cup groups E-H predictions

Editor’s Note: With the World Cup fast approaching, Abe Asher takes a look at groups E-H with squad breakdowns for every country, games to watch and players of note.   Group E 1. Brazil After the humiliation of the 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014 and the two dreadful years under Dunga’s leadership that followed, new manager Tite has Brazil swaggering again. The talented coach has built a system that emphasizes crisp defensive rotations and pressing, but not at the cost of attacking expression. It’s cohesive, and it was pretty well unstoppable during South American qualifying. Dani Alvas was a ... Read more

World Cup 2018: A quick look at all 32 managers

There are few positions in sports as pressure-packed as that of World Cup manager. Here is a look at the 32 men privileged with that pressure heading into the start of the tournament in just three weeks time. Group A Stanislav Cherchesov, Russia The man tasked with leading the home nation this summer? Not a foreign emissary like Guus Hiddink or Fabio Capello, not the popular former CSKA coach Leonoid Slutsky, but the comparatively underwhelming 54-year-old Stanislav Cherchesov. Cherchesov, a former goalkeeper whose last job was in Polish football with Leiga Warsaw, is regarded coolly in Russia. He’s emphasized hard ... Read more

2018 MLS Western Conference preview

On March 3, MLS will kick off its 23rd season featuring a new team in Los Angeles, a new stadium in DC, and new investments in first-teams and academies across the league that have raised the bar again.   1. Portland Timbers What’s To Like: Despite losing two franchise cornerstones in Caleb Porter and Darlington Nagbe in November and December, Timbers fans are almost giddy for 2018. There are a few reasons why. One is that Gio Savarese, brought in from the New York Cosmos to replace Porter, looks like the real deal – a bilingual coach with energy, ideas, ... Read more

2018 MLS Eastern Conference preview

On March 3, MLS will kick off its 23rd season featuring a new team in Los Angeles, a new stadium in DC, and new investments in first-teams and academies across the league that have raised the bar again.   1. Toronto FC What’s To Like: Pretty much everything. Toronto more or less returns the best team in MLS history and should threaten to win the CONCACAF Champions League. To replace the one starter they lost in Steven Beitashour, TFC went out and got a World Cup finalist in Gregory van der Wiel. They’ve also got a 24-year-old attacking midfielder coming ... Read more

5 things we learned from MLS Cup 2017

Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Here are the five things we learned from MLS Cup 2017. 1. Toronto Claims Its Place in History It hadn’t been the easiest of journeys through the playoffs for Toronto FC, but on Saturday evening at BMO Field, they left no doubt as to their place as one of the best MLS team ever assembled. The game might have hung in the balance until second half stoppage time, but TFC played the Seattle Sounders off the field in their MLS Cup rematch. Had Stefan Frei not made nine more saves – several of them ... Read more

World Cup 2018: What to expect from Groups A through H

The World Cup draw took place at the Kremlin on Friday. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from all eight groups as the buildup to next summer’s tournament kicks into high gear. Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay This is a remarkably weak group. It has the lowest ELO score of all the groups by a substantial margin, and Nate Silver tweeted that the Russians couldn’t have done much better if they had tried to rig the draw. With that in mind: this group should have plenty of intrigue, the soul-sapping prospect of an opening game between Russia ... Read more