You might be recovering from a soccer hangover Monday following what may have been the greatest World Cup from start to finish, but just because play has ceased in Brazil doesn t mean that you have to wait another four years to see world-class games. The United States men s national team received tremendous support from a fervent fanbase at home and abroad, Americans filled up football stadiums for watch parties, and television ratings were at a record high.
Luckily for soccer fans, whether you re new to the game or a lifelong supporter, the sport has no real offseason. Many European club teams are beginning preseason tours this week. If you re looking to dive into the sport, there are a multitude of options, starting with the biggest league currently in season: Major League Soccer.
The MLS season started in March, but the regular season is only halfway finished. Nine players from the United States World Cup squad including Clint Dempsey (Seattle), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) and breakout star DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle) are all returning to their club teams to make a run at the MLS Cup, currently held by Kansas City. Unlike the European leagues, MLS decides its champion via a 10-team playoff that starts in October. There are 19 teams scattered across the country, and two more on the way next year in New York and Orlando. Games are televised both on ESPN and NBC Sports Network. If you want to watch the future stars of the United States national team, MLS is the perfect place.
2015 Women s World Cup
Less than one year from today, Alex Morgan and the United States women s national team will try to win a third World Cup in Canada. The women s team finished as runners-up in the last World Cup to Japan, but rebounded at the 2012 Olympics to take the gold medal. The Americans will try to qualify for the tournament at the CONCACAF Women s Championship starting October 16th, and the 2015 World Cup kicks off June 6th.
Germany s Bundesliga
Sixteen membersof Germany s World Cup-winning squad play their club soccer in the Bundesliga.Mario Gotze (the goalscorer in the World Cup final),Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger all play for reigning Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich, the most popular team in the country. Four Americans that featured in Brazil play in Germany: Fabian Johnson (Monchengladbach), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Julian Green (Bayern Munich). The season starts August 22nd, with Bayern Munich hosting Wolfsburg. The Bundesliga is televised in the United States on GOL TV.
Spain s La Liga
Home to Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona), the Spanish league just got a whole lot more interesting with the transfer of former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. Just a few days after earning a four-month international ban from FIFA for biting a player in a World Cup match,Suarez was sold to Barcelona for a reported pounds75 million. Suarez led the Premier League with 31 goals in 33 games last season, making him one of the sport s must-watch players. Real Madrid begins its preseason tour of the United States July 26th in Berkley, California, and will play games in Dallas and Ann Arbor before returning home. You can watch La Liga (as well as Italy s Serie A and France s Ligue 1) on beIN Sports.
England s Premier League
Perhaps the most accessible foreign league (thanks to fantastic coverage from NBC Sports Network), the Premier League is arguable the most exciting league in the world, and attracts star players from across the globe. Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City are all taking part in the preseason International Champions Cup in the United States, with the start of the Premier League season just 32 days away. Marquee games will be televised nationally in the United States on NBA and youcan stream every game online at NBC Sports.