The 2014 year in soccer: Ten dates to circle early in the calendar
A few dates important enough to stop and plug into your daily calendar of choice, old school daybook or new day mobile device or whatever:
Jan. 6 = U.S. national team camp begins
Someone will emerge from this camp to take a big step toward Brazil 2014. Probably not a long, long, long shot. (Sorry, DeAndre Yedlin fans … not gonna happen. Not this World Cup.) But perhaps someone from the back side of the 35- to 40-man pool of players still somewhere in the running. The camp makes a stop in Brazil and then culminates with a Feb. 1 friendly against South Korea
Jan. 16 = MLS draft in Philadelphia
Smarties like myself have been predicting the demise of the MLS draft as a significant means for stocking rosters for more than five years now. And every year, we are proven wrong. The draft, as always, follows the MLS combine in Florida.
Feb. 18/19 = Next UEFA Champions League date
The opening legs of the home-and-away series in the Round of 16. Manchester City-Barcelona (pictured) anyone? Or perhaps Bayern-Arsenal is more to your flavor. The greatness of UCL cannot get here fast enough.
March 8 = Major League Soccer opens
Wait, didn’t they just finish last week? Or something like that? Either way, Seattle hosts league champion Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field on that day, on NBCSN.
March 11 = CONCACAF Champions League
Quarterfinal series openers may be schedule over the next seven days. So, LA Galaxy, you are on the clock. Yes, other MLS teams are involved, but given the three-DPs and the organization’s big ambition, Bruce Arena’s team continues to look like Major League Soccer’s best chance at reaching the FIFA Club World Cup.
May 11 = Premier League Round 38
Also known as the final day of Premier League soccer. Yes, it will be difficult to top the ultimate final day drama from two years back. And yet, it will be brilliantly dramatic. Count on it.
Mid-May = U.S. national team camp begins
Around the same time, the United States will announce its World Cup roster, probably the biggest news day of the year in domestic soccer outside of the World Cup opener. Or the day they win the whole darn thing. I mean, that’s going to happen, right?
May 17 = FA Cup final
Yes, it’s lost a lot of cultural umph. But so what? It’s still a spectacle.
May 24 = UEFA Champions League final
This year’s final is in Lisbon, Portugal. And this is the last, big, globally recognized match before, well, you know what!
June 12 = World Cup opening match
Can. Not. Get. Here. Soon enough.