Four years since Germany outlasted Argentina to cap a memorable 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, soccer and football fans around the globe are standing on the precipice of another month-long journey that's sure to enthrall, inspire and generally dominate the sporting landscape.
The 2018 edition of the global game's marquee showcase officially commences Thursday when host Russia faces Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The Group A opener kicks off at 10 AM CT and airs in the U.S. on FOX and Telemundo, taking centerstage as the lone match of the day before a tripleheader of games on Friday:
- 7 AM CT: Egypt vs. Uruguay (Group A)
- 10 AM CT: Morocco vs. Iran (Group B)
- 1 PM CT: Portugal vs. Spain (Group B)
Fans of the beautiful game across North America received an early jolt of World Cup excitement on Wednesday, thanks to the winning #United2026 bid that will bring that year's World Cup to U.S., Canadian and Mexican soil. As word spread throughout the morning and fans and players young and old reacted to the news, it felt as though early preparations already were in motion for 2026 -- which will feature a record 48 countries -- and the countdown was underway:
But in the here and now, Chicago soccer fans can look forward to 64 fixtures over the upcoming month, games that will provide answers to numerous longstanding questions -- Will Messi finally be able to claim the trophy he's long sought? Can Germany repeat? Will the promising rosters of France, Belgium, England, Brazil and others be able to live up to expectations, or fall victim to an early exit? Which MLS players will raise their profile while in Russia? -- and undoubtedly prompt entirely sets of new questions that are as of yet untold.
There is no question, however, that a Fire roster replete with a reigning World Cup champion player, a U-20 World Cup champion head coach, a group of young World Cup aspirants, and passionate fans of participating nations and the sport at the highest level will be keeping a close eye on the events in Russia. Visit Chicago Fire World Cup Central for news and features in and around the Fire and Chicago over the weeks ahead, and keep an eye on club and player social media accounts for updates, Watch Party opportunities and in-the-moment reactions and hot takes.
The wait is over — enjoy the ride!