By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Dec 27, 2022) US Soccer Players – It has, once again, been a very engaging and absorbing year for the game. The late fall World Cup made it a very unusual 2022, although the entertainment value ended up being very high in the end. Although the massive event concluded just last week, fans have already immersed themselves back into the European club season.
The game across the Atlantic is only a part of the story. There are plenty of games and tournaments on this side across North America that will keep all of us enthralled next year. The return of another MLS season, the expanded Leagues Cup, and the Nations League and Gold Cup are just some of the things to keep an eye on over the coming 12 months.
With less than a week before the start of a new year, here are ten things on the soccer calendar with a mostly North American focus to look forward to in 2023.
Jan 25: USMNT returns to action
After reaching the round of 16 at the World Cup, the National Team returns to action against Serbia. They are scheduled three days later to play Colombia. The two friendlies will cap off the USMNT’s annual January camp.
Feb 1-11: FIFA Club World Cup
FIFA announced plans to enlarge the Club World Cup into a 32-team competition played every four years. For now, the tournament will feature seven clubs, including the Seattle Sounders. The team, there after capturing the 2022 Concacaf Champions League, could make more history in 2023 and put MLS in front of an international audience.
Feb 25-26: “MLS is Back” opening weekend
Yes, MLS is back and bigger than before! The league’s 28th season will feature 29 teams with the addition of St Louis SC. The season also marks the first of a ten-year global broadcast deal with Apple TV. Los Angeles FC, the defending champions, open on February 25 against the LA Galaxy in El Traffico at the Rose Bowl.
June 4: Concacaf Champions League final
The CCL gets back to it on March 7 with the round of 16. The remainder of the two-legged knockout phase will be contested throughout the spring. The final will also be played over two legs on May 31 and June 4. MLS will be represented by five teams: LAFC, Philadelphia Union, Austin FC, Orlando City, and Vancouver Whitecaps.
June 26-July 16: Gold Cup
The big tournament for the USMNT in ’23 will be the 17th edition of the Gold Cup. The Americans captured the title in 2021 in a riveting final against Mexico. The 2023 final is scheduled for July 16 at SoFi Stadium in suburban Los Angeles.
July 20-August 20: Women’s World Cup
The USWNT play in the Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The US, a two-time defending champion, open group play on July 21 against Vietnam.
July 21-August 19: Leagues Cup
MLS will take off for a month to accommodate the Leagues Cup. The inter-league tournament will feature MLS teams and those from Liga MX. For the first time in the history of the competition, all MLS and Mexican league sides, 47 in all, will compete for the title. The Leagues Cup finalists and third-place team will earn automatic berths to the 2024 Concacaf Champions League.
Sept 27: US Open Cup final
The country’s oldest soccer tournament, now in its 108th edition, starts off with the first round on March 21. The single-elimination tournament will feature 107 amateur and pro teams. Eighteen MLS teams enter the fray in the third round (April 18-19) and another eight starting in the Round of 32 (May 9-10). Orlando City is the defending champion.
Oct 21: MLS Decision Day
The MLS regular season finale should be exciting once again as teams fight for playoff spots and seeds in both the Eastern and Western conferences.
Oct 28: MLS playoffs begin
The MLS Cup Playoffs will once again be used to determine the two teams that will meet in the championship game. The details around the playoff format have yet to be revealed. The date for the MLS Cup final has also not been set. The game will be hosted by the team with the better regular-season record.
Again, there’s plenty to watch in 2023. MLS teams will be busy for nearly the entire calendar year if you count preseason and playoffs. It’s another sign of the interest the league now generates and its continued importance to the growth of the American player.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of the new book “The FIFA World Cup: A History of the Planet’s Biggest Sporting Event.”
More from Clemente Lisi:
- 2022 World Cup: Goalkeeping, upsets, MLS players, and USMNT TV ratings
- The importance of UEFA Champions League players in the World Cup semifinals
- What we’re learning tactically from the 2022 World Cup
- The history of the USMNT in the third game of the World Cup group stage
Photo by MLS