Twinkling lights are going up on houses and trees all around, there’s a chill (or even outrageous amounts of snow, depending on where in the country you are) in the air, and strangers are just a liiiittle bit friendlier and more open to a chat than usual. That’s right, it’s late November and that can only mean one thing: World Cup Season is here!
Wait, that can’t possibly be right. The World Cup is usually in the Summer. Or at least it’s definitely not in late Fall/Winter (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). Alas, whether we like it or not, for good or for (honestly, mostly) bad, the 2022 men’s World Cup being held in Qatar is finally upon us.
I’ll be your guide of sorts through this men’s World Cup here at Sounder at Heart. The tournament starts with an 8 AM PT match between the host nation of Qatar and Xavier Arreaga’s Ecuador. In a group that also features the Netherlands and reigning AFCON Champions Senegal, this seems like a match between the likely third and fourth place finishers in Group A.
If you need a refresher on these teams and the group, our pals over at Stars and Stripes FC have a quick preview for you. Until recent years you likely wouldn’t have seen Qatar play, but as part of their efforts to prepare themselves and the world for their hosting duties they’ve consistently entered as a guest team in major tournaments around the world. You may have seen them in the 2021 Gold Cup where they lost 1-0 to the USMNT in the semi-finals — their first defeat of the tournament — or the 2019 Copa América. Sounders fans have probably tuned in to an Ecuador game here and there in an effort to keep tabs on Arreaga, but if you need a deeper look into either team, the Athletic’s got you covered: Qatar preview, Ecuador preview.
It’s painfully cliche of me to say, but obviously both teams are going to see this as their most winnable game and will want to make a good impression. Qatar has invested no small amount of money in building up the footballing pedigree of the game domestically, and will undoubtedly be eager to show what that investment has gotten them. Add to that the potential ignominy of becoming the first host nation to lose their opening game, and Ecuador will have a tough task ahead of them. Ecuador is no stranger to adversity, though, as their journey through CONMEBOL qualification has been a grind highlighted by bits of controversy and scandal here and there — the biggest stemming from Ecuador fielding an ineligible player against Chile.
All of that goes out the window, for the most part, when the whistle blows and everything boils down to two teams playing on the world’s biggest stage.
How to watch
Good news, you’ve got some options!
English broadcast: FS1, Foxsports.com or the Fox Sports app
Spanish broadcast: Telemundo, TelemundoDeportes.com, Peacock
If you miss it live, fear not! Peacock will have the Spanish language broadcast available shortly after the match ends, and TubiTV.com will have the English language broadcast available 30 minutes after the match ends.
Like I said up at the top, I’ll be accompanying you throughout the tournament doing my best to wrap up each day’s action and provide a look ahead at the next day’s. These posts will serve as our match threads, so this is your invitation to get busy in the comments!