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Messi’s Inter Miami Begins Hunt for Concacaf Champions Crown

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With a new name and expanded format, the Concacaf Champions Cup gets underway on Tuesday with 27 participating teams and the presence of Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami as the main attraction.

The Argentine star will have the opportunity to add North, Central America and the Caribbean’s most important tournament to his unparalleled résumé, which awards two lucrative tickets to the winner.

The first ticket is for FIFA’s Intercontinental Cup in December 2024 and the second is for the 2025 Club World Cup.

In this way, the Champions Cup winning team will join previous winners León (2023), Seattle Sounders (2022) and Monterrey (2021), as the four representatives of the region in the 2025 Club World Cup, the first expanded to 32 participants.

The top Concacaf tournament, previously known as the Concacaf Champions League, also grows this year from 16 to 27 teams that will compete in four direct knockout ties leading up to the one-match final on June 2.

Inter Miami, which has also recruited Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez this year, earned its spot in the tournament as winner of the Leagues Cup and is one of five clubs exempt from playing the first round.

Columbus Crew (USA), newly-crowned MLS champion under the leadership of Colombian Juan Camilo ‘Cucho’ Hernández, Pachuca (Mexico), Robinhood (Suriname) and Alajuelense (Costa Rica) are the other teams already qualified for the Round of 16, to be played from March 5-14.

Chicharito Returns

The first round kicks off this week with the first leg of five playoffs involving Mexican teams. The opening match will be Monterrey’s visit to Guatemalan side Comunicaciones on Tuesday. On the same day, America, the competition’s most successful team, will debut on the field of Nicaraguan club Real Estelí.

Toluca will travel to Costa Rica to face CS Herediano on Wednesday while Guadalajara and Tigres head to Canada to clash with Forge and Vancouver Whitecaps, respectively.

The return of veteran striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández to Chivas de Guadalajara, the club where he came up and is seeking its first regional title since 2018, is another tournament highlight.

The second leg of these playoffs will take place from February 13-15. The other six playoffs with American teams will be played between February 20-29, including that of Nashville SC and Dominican side Moca FC, which will determine Inter Miami’s Round of 16 opponent.

Nashville SC was precisely the rival that Inter defeated in the Leagues Cup final, the joint tournament between the North American (MLS) and Mexican leagues.

First Round Playoffs

Philadelphia Union (USA) vs Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)

Deportivo Toluca (MEX) vs CS Herediano (CRC)

Club América (MEX) vs Real Estelí FC

CD Guadalajara (MEX) vs Forge FC (CAN)

New England Revolution (USA) vs CA Independiente (PAN)

Houston Dynamo FC (USA) vs St. Louis City SC (USA)

Tigres UANL (MEX) vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC (CAN)

Orlando City SC (USA) vs Cavalry FC (CAN)

CF Monterrey (MEX) vs Comunicaciones FC (GUA)

FC Cincinnati (USA) vs Cavalier FC (JAM)

Nashville SC (USA) vs Moca FC (DOM)



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Costa Rican Companies Lead Effort to Restore Coral Reefs :

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Several companies joined forces to implement a marine ecosystem restoration project in Punta Cacique, Guanacaste, which allowed the planting of 1,500 coral fragments, thanks to the support of 30 volunteers.

Volunteers from Garnier & Garnier – a real estate developer of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Guanacaste – the Alianza Mar y Tierra, and the Center for Marine Science and Limnology Research of the University of Costa Rica (CIMAR), made this project possible.

According to CIMAR data, coral reefs are the backbone of the marine ecosystem, supporting more than 25% of life in the ocean, and around 500 million people in the world depend directly on them, in terms of food, protection, and income from fishing and tourism.

Therefore, this initiative, in addition to promoting marine conservation, seeks to mitigate the impact generated by bad practices of some hotels in the area in the past.

In this first stage, the volunteers placed 60 structures, which will be maintained monthly by experts to ensure that the corals have the best conditions. The investment during the first year of the project will be USD $50,000.

“We have placed healthy coral fragments in steel structures with six legs at different levels, which we call spiders, with the objective of artificially recreating a coral reef, and we have placed them in an area that has the ideal conditions for their growth. In the short term, they will attract the arrival of other species and will contribute to the economy and tourism in the area,” said Juan José Alvarado, CIMAR – UCR researcher.

The planting of corals in this province seeks to restore the marine ecosystem affected by various threats, such as the increase in temperature – a result of global warming – and the proliferation of red tide, and aims to inspire other companies and entities to join the fight for environmental conservation.

According to experts, 100% of the corals planted survive, and the growth rate is very high, as they grow between 8 and 9 centimeters per year, which allows them to continue reproducing.

A vital part of this project has been the non-profit association Alianza Mar y Tierra, a citizen’s platform for the management, creation, and implementation of maritime and land conservation/restoration projects.

“What happens in the sea impacts the land, and what happens on land impacts the sea, so we cannot see them separately. With this kind of actions, we hope for the increase of marine life,” commented Sea and Land Alliance co-founder Elsiana Luna.



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World Cup Heroes Highlight Argentina’s Squad to Face Costa Rica, El Salvador

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The star Lionel Messi heads the roster of the world champion Argentine national team that coach Lionel Scaloni announced this Friday for the upcoming March friendlies against Costa Rica and El Salvador, to be played in the United States.

For these preparation matches for the next Copa América-2024, which will also be played on American soil, Scaloni called up 26 players who play abroad, including several members of the team that won in Qatar-2022.

However, the coach of La Albiceleste reserved some surprises, such as the call-up of young lateral Valentín Barco, who came through Boca Juniors and was recently signed by Brighton, who is coming off a very good performance with the U-23 national team that qualified for the Paris-2024 Olympics in Venezuela.

In defense, Scaloni called up central defender Marcos Senesi, who plays for Bournemouth, in place of the injured Lisandro Martínez (Manchester United), and also brought back Paulo Dybala, having a great season with AS Roma, who was absent from the latest matches.

Seeking to boost a renovation at some positions, the manager also called up Facundo Buonanotte (Brighton), Valentín Carboni (Monza, Italy) and Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United).

Without several world champions

On the other hand, other players were not called up due to physical problems or tactical reasons, among them Gonzalo Montiel (Nottingham Forest, England), Marcos Acuña (Sevilla, Spain), Guido Rodríguez (Real Betis, Spain) and Thiago Almada (Atlanta United).

The world champion Albiceleste will first play against El Salvador on March 22 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and four days later they will face Costa Rica at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Originally, Argentina was going to play friendlies in China in March against the African teams Nigeria and Ivory Coast, but the Asian tour was canceled and at the last minute the Argentine Football Association (AFA) had to look for alternatives for the international window, which is why it found a response in the Central American teams.



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A Hypothesis on the 2024 Election: Michelle Obama vs Donald Trump?

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As the political landscape for the 2024 United States presidential election takes shape, one thing is for certain: unpredictability reigns supreme. Speculation runs wild, rumors swirl, and the unexpected becomes the norm. In this article, we explore a bold hypothesis for the upcoming election, where twists and turns could redefine the political arena.

The Biden Conundrum: A Potential Democrat Dilemma

In the realm of political uncertainty, the status of President Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for the 2024 election stands at a critical juncture. Hypothetically speaking, many scenarios have emerged where Biden’s candidacy as well as presidency may end. His age in question, his dealings with Hunter Biden overseas, or even possibly his passing.

Enter Michelle Obama: A Game-Changing Announcement

Amidst the uncertainty surrounding Biden, a seismic shift occurs as former First Lady Michelle Obama steps into the spotlight. Announcing her candidacy for the Democratic nomination, Obama brings a new dynamic to the race. With her unique perspective, experience, and widespread appeal, her entry reshapes the electoral landscape and garners attention on a global scale.

Trumping the Competition: The Resilience of Donald Trump

On the Republican side of the aisle, another familiar figure emerges as a leading candidate for the 2024 election. Despite ongoing legal battles and court proceedings, former President Donald Trump maintains his status as a contender for the Republican nomination. As the courts grapple with decisions that remain unresolved by the time election day arrives, Trump’s resilience and influence in the political arena remain formidable.

The Unpredictable Journey Ahead

As the 2024 election looms on the horizon, one thing remains clear: uncertainty rules the day. With bold hypotheses, unexpected contenders, and a political landscape in flux, the  journey to Election Day promises to be a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns. Only time will tell how the story unfolds and who emerges victorious in this high-stakes political drama.



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