As the year comes to a close I look back on what 2016 brought to the world of soccer. In the coming weeks my plan is to look in detail at the year the USWNT has had, which included a dominant performance in the inaugural SheBelieves cup, an early exit from the Rio Olympic Games, several retirements, along with the addition of many new faces, all while enjoying some incredible individual performances. I will look at the USMNT’s recent Head Coach change which came after losing its first two matches in World Cup qualifying. The on-going effort to integrate youth in the team and compete with superior national teams. I will look back on the National Women’s Soccer League and Major League Soccer season as the sport grows in popularity in the U.S. I will cover all this in a series of blog posts. By no means, do I want to bore you with one long post and to be honest, I have no interest in trying to write that much all at one time.
As we get closer to the new year, I will look at what is coming up in 2017. It will be an off year for the USWNT, as far as major competitions, but the SheBelieves Cup will once again give us an opportunity to see “the gals” back together and in action again come February. As the next couple of years will be building years for head coach Jill Ellis and the national team, we should get to see even more new faces and see the direction the future squad is going in in the run up to the Women’s World Cup in France in 2019. These are exciting times for all USWNT fans!
For the USMNT it will all be about qualifying for its own bid to make it to the World Cup in Russia in 2018. With two losses, to Mexico and Costa Rica, putting the team in a tough place to qualify, it will be interesting to see if new head coach, Bruce Arena, can turn it around. The coaching change didn’t come as much of a surprise after Jurgen Klinsmann couldn’t get better results from the squad over the past few months, even after doing well in COPA America and having a decent showing in the 2015 World Cup. The United States Soccer Federation’s desire to move on seemed to be coming for a while. With everything the Federation is putting into the program, I imagine it is disappointed by the lack of consistency and positive results. It will take some time to see what changes Arena will bring to the squad and if those changes can get a boost in wins.
The NWSL has now made it through its fourth season and appears to be ready to make it work for the long haul. The season ended with an exciting final between the Western New York Flash and the Washington Spirit hosted in Houston, TX. There is talk of another expansion team in North Carolina, with legendary UNC head coach, Anson Dorrance reportedly involved in bringing professional soccer to the state. MLS will see expansion in 2017 with the addition of two new franchises, Minnesota and Atlanta and LAFC in 2018. There are several other teams in the works, including Phoenix, Nashville, Detroit and Miami to mention just a few.
There is just so much to write about, I’m excited to get started! If you haven’t noticed yet, I like soccer and enjoy looking at it in its many intricacies, I talk about it in detail with some of my fellow soccer fans. If you enjoy it as much as I do, come back each week and read my thoughts and please subscribe and comment, lets make this a conversation. #Soccer4Life