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Soccer notebook: World Cup coming to Ukraine?

Soccer article at Knup Sports

The World Cup could be coming to Ukraine and Nashville FC isn’t acting its age.

Notes from around the soccer world:

Spain, and Portugal make the pitch for Ukraine

Nobody knows what the world will look like in 2030. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that. So has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Here’s something that could happen in 2030: the World Cup in Ukraine. The country has joined Spain and Portugal in a bid for the 2030 World Cup, according to a story posted by Reuters. Ukraine would be the host for one of the World Cup groups in a plan that has the blessing of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Spanish and Portuguese governments.

Why not a World Cup in Ukraine? It wouldn’t be that unusual of a site, not after what’s happening this year. The 2022 version of soccer’s worldwide celebration will be held beginning Nov. 20 in the “soccer hotbed” of Qatar. The 2026 World Cup will be played in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. That triumvirate of sites could pave the way to a Spain/Portugal/Ukraine trio four years later.

Coyotes howl in Nashville

The Nashville Soccer Club joined Major League Soccer in 2020 as an expansion team. It certainly hasn’t acted like a new team since then, earning a berth in the MLS playoffs all three years of its existence. The Coyotes have joined three other MLS teams — Atlanta United FC, LAFC, and Seattle Sounders FC — in the league’s modern expansion era that have qualified for the playoffs the first three years they were around.

Making the playoff this year hasn’t been easy for Nashville, SC. It began the season with eight straight road games before its new home pitch (GEODIS Park) opened. Unfazed, the Boys in Gold averaged 1.38 points per game over the stretch, the most of any team in league history that started the season with eight or more games on the road.

Nashville FC hosted Eastern Conference playoff games in each of the past two seasons, outscoring its opponents 6-1, and reached the conference semifinals twice. This year will mark the first time Nashville FC will compete in the Western Conference playoffs.

Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman are Nashville FC’s stars. As the week began, Mukhtar led MLS with 23 goals. The German striker had 17 goals and six assists in his last 15 games. Zimmerman, a U.S. international, is the recipient of two straight MLS Defender of the Year awards.

GEODIS Park is a new 30,000-seat stadium. It’s the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. or Canada.

LAFC is at the top of the table

Speaking of successful MLS teams, there’s LAFC, the league’s regular-season champion for the second time in four years. By earning the MLS Supporters’ Shield, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs including the MLS Cup on Nov. 5, if the Black & Gold get that far.

Talent-laden LAFC has made headlines all season with significant transfers including forward Gareth Bale and center-back Giorgio Chiellini from Real Madrid and Juventus, respectively.

LAFC will be one of five MLS teams in the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League tournament. The winner of the club competition will compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.

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