Sad to say, the World Cup is officially over. The USMNT had a good World Cup overall. The US got out of the "Group of Death" despite the doubters and showed that they can compete with the best. Jurgen Klinsmann has been somewhat of a controversial manager at times, but his decision-making overall has been pretty good. This 2014 World Cup has been one to remember. It has galvanised the US fans and seem to be another step in the US becoming a full-fledged soccer nation. So what's next for the USMNT? Let's find out.
Sept. 3: USMNT vs. Czech Republic
Nov. 18: USMNT vs. Republic of Ireland
The United States keeps looking forward as it schedules two international friendlies a few months after the World Cup. The first is against the Czech Republic in one of Europe's most beautiful cities in Prague on September 3. Also according to Irish Media reports last week, the Republic of Ireland has agreed to host the US in an international friendly match in Dublin, Ireland. The US will of course play other friendlies as well in the future.
2015 Gold Cup
The CONCACAF confederation had a fine showing in the World Cup and earned a little more respect when it comes to the world stage. The United States and Mexico both got out of their group and barely lost to two good teams in the Round of 16. Costa Rica proved to be the cinderella team this summer in Brazil as Los Ticos bonded together and got all the way to the Quarter-finals where they lost to the Netherlands in penalties.
The CONCACAF's success will make for an even more exciting Gold Cup next summer. The Gold Cup, for any soccer novice, takes place every two years and is the championship of the CONCACAF confederation. It pits twelve teams from CONCACAF in a tournament to decide this confederation's championship. The 2015 edition should feature teams like defending champ USA, the talented Mexicans, the dangerous Costa Ricans, 2013 runner-up Panama, among others. There is a series of qualifications that takes place for every team except the US, Mexico, and Canada.
The winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will face the defending champ United States in a playoff to decide who gets the CONCACAF's bid to represent the region in the 2017 Confederations Cup (more on that later). If the US wins the Gold Cup next year, it automatically is guaranteed a spot in the Confederations Cup. The Gold Cup will also serve as qualification for our next event.
2016 Copa America Centenario & the Summer Olympics
The Copa America, or the tournament to decide the South American or CONMEBOL champion, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. For this special edition, the Cup will not only feature top teams of South America but also several top CONCACAF teams. The Copa America Centenario will be hosted in the United States. Thus the home team US squad and Mexico will not have to qualify for this tournament. This competition will most likely be another great step in growing soccer in the United States. Just think, Neymar and Brazil, Messi and Argentina, Suarez and Uruguay, James Rodriguez and Colombia possibly playing in your backyard.
The scheduling and logistics of the Copa America Centenario will be quite complicated and crazy because there is another big event coming up that same summer. That event is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which will host the Summer Olympics. Yes, football, a.k.a soccer, is in the Olympics. In the Olympics each country (that qualifies) has to field an U-23 squad, so we will not see the same talent that we see in other competitions. Mexico took the gold medals in the 2012 edition. Could hometown Brazil get revenge?
2017 FIFA Confederations Cup & 2018 World Cup
Granted the US either win the 2015 Gold Cup or beat the winner in a playoff, they will clinch a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. It's kind of like a warm-up for the World Cup. It's obviously not as important, but it still gives teams another chance to showcase their talents and seize bragging rights. Sorry, Brazil, that didn't last long.
Then in 2018, we have another World Cup which will hopefully have as much drama as this year's edition. Will Germany defend their title and could they be a dynasty? Will Brazil even qualify? There are many questions like these that will be answered in 4 years time.
Overall, I am sad that the World Cup is over, but there's still a lot going on with the USMNT. From friendlies, qualifiers, and big tournaments, we'll see the last of some beloved veterans and the emergence of new stars. Looking forward to the Gold Cup, until then time for the other football.