The Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 are all done. Serie A will be finished on Sunday. The Champions League Final on June 6th will mark the end of the 2014-15 season of European club football.
This year is an odd year, which sadly means we won’t have the World Cup or the Euros to entertain us this summer. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no football to watch while we frantically track transfers and wait for the season to begin. Let’s learn about the four international tournaments that’ll take place this summer.
Date: June 11 – July 4
Defending Champion: Uruguay
The most exciting tournament for the casual football fan of the four this summer is surely Copa America. The South American continental tournament will be give everyone a chance to see some of the best players from the World Cup representing their countries once again. Lionel Messi, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, James Rodriguez will be amongst many other South American stars on display in the tournament. There will not be Luis Suarez, however, due to his suspension. World Cup finalists Argentina are unsurprisingly the favorite, but Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal will want to make sure Chile puts on a strong showing as the host nation. In additional to continental bragging rights, the winner of the tournament will qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
Location: United States and Canada
Date: July 7 – July 26
Defending Champion: United States
This tournament is less likely than the Copa America to interest fans from countries that aren’t in CONCACAF. That is because it admittedly has less star power and a lower quality of play than the Copa America. Paraguay facing Jamaica, for example, isn’t the most enticing matchup ever, but it pales in comparison to Cuba against Guatemala. The tournament still has four teams that made the 2014 World Cup (Honduras, United States, Mexico and Costa Rica) and even if the group stage is lackluster, the semifinals and final should be very good games. Much like Copa America, this tournament also offers Confederations Cup qualifying, but with a twist. If the United States win, they’re in. If anyone else wins, they will be forced to play the United States in a one game playoff on an unknown date and at an unknown venue with the winner heading to Russia.
U-20 WORLD CUP
Location: New Zealand
Date: May 30 – June 20
Defending Champion: France
Any sort of competition featuring U-20 or U-21 players is much more interesting several years after it has happened than when it is going on. It is fun to look at who succeeded in the tournaments and if they lived up the potential they showed. In 2013, Paul Pogba won the Golden Ball for France. In 2007 and 2005 a pair of young Argentines named Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi won the individual trophy. But as has anyone heard from the 2009 winner, Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah? A young Brazilian named Henrique scored five goals in the 2011 tournament, but as a grand total of zero senior caps to his name. The quality of play will not be as high as the normal World Cup, but it should be an interesting tournament given that we could be seeing the future stars of football, or the future flops. The same goes for the U-21 European Championship, also this summer.
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Date: June 6 – July 5
Defending Champion: Japan
Do not watch the Women’s World Cup if you expect to be at the exact same level of play as the men’s game, because it isn’t. However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a highly entertaining tournament with the very best women’s players in the world. 2011’s tournament produced great drama. In the quarterfinals between the USA and Brazil, the USA sent the game to extra time with a 122nd minute goal from Abby Wambach and then won on penalties. Then in the final, Japan sent their game against the USA to penalties with a 117th minute goal. Japan then won the World Cup on penalties. So if you want to watch soccer only to see the highest possible level of play, just watch Copa America. But if you’re interested in seeing an exciting and entertaining tournament that the USA has a good chance at winning, watch the Women’s World Cup.