While 2014 provided delightful excitement through a hard-fought World Cup and several other major soccer games, it is time now to bid farewell and look ahead to 2015. With the dust settling on Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry’s careers, there will surely be some change (especially in the MLS), but this will merely open the door of opportunity to all the young stars looking to make a name for themselves in the sport. 2015 will certainly be another fantastic year for soccer as there is much to look forward to. Here’s what to expect in the year ahead:
The 2015 Gold Cup – While not quite as glamorous as the World Cup in Brazil, the Gold Cup is actually a wonderful tournament in which the USA has a good chance of winning. Comprised solely of North American CONCACAF teams, the tournament features World Cup attendees like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras (should they qualify via playoff). Costa Rica will be interesting to watch considering their success in Brazil where they defeated Italy, Uruguay, and Greece, making an improbable quarterfinal run. Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz will be key players. Meanwhile, Mexico’s run to the round of 16 restored their pride, making them a dangerous threat as well.
But America will be the heavy favorite as the host nation and reigning champion. It will be a vital tournament for manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who has now held the position for 3.5 years. Though the USA performed decently at the World Cup, we will want to see progress and that means claiming a second straight Gold Cup. Look for Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard to star, while young players like DeAndre Yedlin, Julian Green, and John Brooks seek to establish themselves as regular USA internationals this July.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup – Another great tournament in which the USA should contend for is the Women’s World Cup, which starts in June. Though held in nearby Canada, it will be a major test for the Americans. While they’ve won three straight Olympic Gold Medals, the USA hasn’t claimed a World Cup title since 1999. The 2011 Final was a terribly painful ordeal in which the USA lost to Japan on penalties after leading for much of the extra time period. One only hopes that they can get it right on this occasion. With Hope Solo starring in goal and the Abby Wambach/Alex Morgan duo bagging goals galore as forwards, the USA has a great chance to claim this World Cup. However, they will be tested from the start in a group of Nigeria, Sweden, and Australia. Later round contenders will include Brazil, Germany, France, and of course, Japan. It should be a thrill to watch!
And while these international fixtures will be the main draw for American soccer fans, the professional club game will continue as usual. New stars are set to arrive in the MLS as are two new teams, New York City FC and Orlando City SC. New York will welcome Spanish hero David Villa while Brazil’s Kaka will lead Orlando. Nevertheless, American players like Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Graham Zusi should continue to impress stateside.
And of course the rest of the world’s soccer teams will continue to delight as well. With the Champions League, English Premier League, La Liga, and other world-class leagues building to a grand finale in the spring, 2015 is shaping up to be another fantastic year for the sport of soccer. Best get yourself ready with a soccer scarf!