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The big show starts Thursday
by Paul Kennedy, June 8th, 2014 3:28PM

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TAGS:  mls, television, us open cup, world cup 2014

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[THIS WEEK IN SOCCER: June 9-15] This is the week everyone has been waiting for. The World Cup kicks off in Brazil on Thursday when the host country plays Croatia in the opening match. The first week features two games involving European superpowers: Spain-Netherlands in a rematch of the 2010 final and England-Italy in Manaus.

MONDAY, June 9:
U.S. superscout Berti Vogts is in Miami for one last look at Ghana as the Black Stars face South Korea at Sun Life Stadium

TUESDAY, June 10:
All Portuguese eyes are on MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as Portugal plays Ireland in the final World Cup tune-up. Cristiano Ronaldo did not play in Portugal's first two warm-up matches, but the Portuguese federation issued a statement Saturday that the injured Real Madrid star has resumed full training.

VIEWING: An hour-long look at the U.S. national team's preparations for the World Cup airs in Episode 6 of “Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil,” on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.

WEDNESDAY, June 11:
MLS breaks for the World Cup following two games: Montreal-D.C. United and Portland-FC Dallas (live at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes). Play resumes June 27, the day after the World Cup's group stage ends.

-- The fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup marks the entry of MLS's 16 U.S. clubs. The San Jose Earthquakes play Sacramento Republic FC at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium, and the Houston Dynamo hosts the Laredo Heat.

VIEWING: “Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil,” concludes with a live series finale on ESPN2 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

THURSDAY, June 12:
All eyes will be on Luis Felipe Scolari's Seleção as it kicks off the 2014 World Cup against Croatia at Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians. The game marks the first time since 1970 the tournament opens with a single game involving the host country.

World Cup 2014:
June 12 in Sao Paulo
Group A: Brazil vs. Croatia (ESPN, Univision/UDN 4 p.m. ET)

FRIDAY, June 13:
Group B is considered one of the toughest World Cup groups, opening with Spain-Netherlands in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final. With the Group B runner-up slated to play the Group A winner -- read Brazil -- in the round of 16, there is no margin of error in a group in which South America darkhorse Chile, which opens against Australia, could have its say.

World Cup 2014:
June 13 in Natal
Group A: Mexico vs. Cameroon (ESPN, Univision/UDN noon ET)
June 13 in Salvador
Group B: Spain vs. Netherlands (ESPN, Univision/UDN 3 p.m. ET)
June 13 in Cuiaba
Group B: Chile vs. Australia (ESPN, Univision/UDN 6 p.m. ET)

SATURDAY, June 14:
The first weekend of the World Cup begins with a marathon: four games spanning 11 hours. The match to watch: England-Italy in Manaus. U.S. fans should watch to see how the teams handle the Amazonian heat. The USA will in Manaus June 22 to face Portugal.

World Cup 2014:
June 14 in Belo Horizonte
Group C: Colombia vs. Greece (ABC, Univision/UDN noon ET)
June 14 in Fortaleza
Group D: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica (ABC, Univision/UDN 3 p.m. ET)
June 14 in Manaus
Group D: England vs. Italy (ESPN, Univision/UDN 6 p.m. ET)
June 14 in Recife
Group C: Ivory Coast vs. Japan (ESPN, Univision/UDN 9 p.m. ET)

-- For the first time, three MLS clubs will play U.S. Open Cup matches on the weekend. The much-anticipated matchup of the fourth round is New York Cosmos-New York Red Bulls, the first meeting between the clubs.

-- The USA and France meet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa in the first of two women's friendlies in Tampa.

SUNDAY, June 15:
Argentina with Lionel Messi opens play at Rio de Janeiro's famed Maracana Stadium against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Albiceleste will be favored, but Bosnia-Herzegovina, playing in its first World Cup, looked very good on its U.S. warm-up tour.

World Cup 2014:
June 15 in Brasilia
Group E: Switzerland vs. Ecuador (ABC, Univision/UDN noon ET)
June 15 in Porto Alegre
Group E: France vs. Honduras (ABC, Univision/UDN 3 p.m. ET)
June 15 in Rio de Janeiro
Group F: Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herze. (ESPN, Univision/UDN 6 p.m. ET)


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