A Guide for new Soccer fans

So, the World Cup ended, and you’re craving for soccer. If you’re wondering “what’s next;” here’s a brief runthrough:

I want to watch something as soon as possible. Like, tonight, if possible. 

Major League Soccer is going on as we speak, with a full slate of games this upcoming weekend. MLS is our league, with many members of the U.S. national team, and worth paying attention to. There are 19 teams, 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada. Below MLS, there’s an assortment of minor league soccer, including the North American Soccer League and USL Pro. Between the three leagues, there is probably a team near you.

Through the remainder of the season, NBCSN has Friday night games, with the occasional Saturday afternoon tossed in. ESPN will show games on Sundays and weeknights (including this Wednesday).

But I thought MLS wasn’t good? When’s good soccer on?

While it is improving, MLS is not the best league out there. The big European leagues begin in about a month. Of those, the English Premier League is among the best, and has the most coverage by far. Tim Howard plays in the Premier League for Everton, while Jozy Altidore and Geoff Cameron also play in England. Every game of the season is on NBC/NBCSN or their streaming service. If you live in a decent sized city, especially in the east, there are almost definitely bars where fans of various teams gather to watch games every week.

The UEFA Champions League features the best teams from all of Europe, with games played on Tuesday/Wednesday afternoons on Fox Sports 1. Despite the name, it’s organized more like a tournament, and the group stage games begin in September.

Before then, though, many European teams, including the English, German, Spanish, and European champions are playing preseason matches this summer in the US/Canada. Here’s a list of all of those. There’s probably a game being played near you.

I just like the patriotism; when does the U.S. play again?

Next summer, the Women’s World Cup will be held in Canada. The US Women’s team is among the best in the world, as you might know. Meanwhile, the Men will be playing in the Gold Cup, with games right here in the US. The Gold Cup pits us against Mexico, Costa Rica, and all the other best teams from North/Central America.

Two summers from now, the US will host and play in Copa America, with the best teams from North, Central, and South America. This is a special tournament; generally Copa America is held among South American sides only. Final details are being worked out, but this will be a big opportunity to see Brazil, Argentina, and other powers playing competitive games on U.S. soil.

While that’s going on, the European Championships, generally thought of as the second biggest int’l tournament, will be played in France. ESPN will have those games.

Where can I find out more?

NBC Sports’ soccer page

MLS website

Premier League website

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