Can't get enough soccer? Here are 35 soccer things to see and do this summer after the World Cup.
By Paul Kennedy
Managing Editor, Soccer America Magazine
JULY 12.European clubs quickly move into high gear to prepare for the new season after the World Cup. Scottish champion Celtic is the first club to head to the USA, facing D.C. United in a friendly at RFK Stadium. Celtic, which is coming off its 40th league title, features an assortment of international stars, including Irish great Roy Keane, who joined the Hoops from Manchester United in December 2005. D.C. United has a long history of international success. It won the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup and 1998 Inter-American Cup, and its all-time record in international friendlies is 14-5-3.
JULY 14.The great Romario makes his debut at Rochester's new PAETEC Park when the Rhinos host Miami FC in USL First Division action. Miami stars Romario and Zinho played on Brazil's 1994 World Cup championship team. PAETEC Park, the Rhino's $40 million soccer stadium, opened in June.
JULY 15.Twenty years after playing its first home game ever in Blaine, Minn., the U.S. women's national team returns to the National Sports Center for its first home game of the year when it plays Sweden. The match is the 14th the U.S. women have played in Blaine, the most games hosted by any city in the United States. The U.S. women played the first three domestic matches in their history in Blaine in 1986 and recorded their first-ever win there as well, a 2-0 victory over Canada on July 7, 1986. The Swedes feature two of the world's best strikers in Victoria Svensson and Hanna Ljungberg.
JULY 19.The Columbus Crew's Buck-A-Brat Nights return for an eighth season. The Crew's game against the New York Red Bulls is the second of three MLS Wednesday night games that will be Bob Evans Buck-A-Brat Nights. Every Crew Game on Wednesday since the opening of Crew Stadium in 1999 has been Buck-A-Brat Night. Over the first 23 games, an average of 13,160 juicy, full-size bratwursts have been sold for $1 each. Entering the 2006 season, the all-time BPP (Brats-Per-Person) ratio is 0.942, nearly one per person!
AT THE MOVIESScheduled to be released the weekend of the World Cup final, ''Once in a lifetime: The extraordinary story of the New York Cosmos,'' tells the story of the rise and fall of the most famous American soccer team ever. The story takes place during the summer of 1977 - perhaps best known as the summer the ''Son of Sam'' killer terrorized New York's five boroughs. But it was also the summer that the Cosmos with Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia took New York by storm, drawing sellout crowds across the Hudson River at the new Giants Stadium. The Miramax Films documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the Cosmos and New York's brief love affair with soccer. Rating: PG-13.
JULY 19.The USL All-Star Game returns for the first time in seven years when the USL First Division all-stars face English Championship League (second level) club Sheffield Wednesday at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. USL previously held three all-star games, but this will be the first against an international opponent. Wednesday finished tied for 18th place in its first season back in the Championship League. The Owls feature American Frankie Simek, who played 42 games and scored one goal in 2005-06. Triangle Professional Soccer will announce the name of its 2007 expansion USL First Division franchise at the game.
JULY 20-24, JULY 27-31.The National Cup V finals, U.S. Club Soccer's national championships, conclude with weekends for girls, then boys, in Greensboro, N.C. The teams will compete in U-12 to U-17 divisions. Both the boys and girls finals will be held in conjunction with the Score at the Shore Showcase.
JULY 22.Freddy Adu makes his debut at MLS's newest stadium as D.C. United heads to the Chicago Fire's Bridgeview Stadium for an important Eastern Conference showdown.
JULY 22.Baseball has the Cape Cod League, the legendary summer baseball league that draws baseball scouts and tourists to watch some of America's top collegiate talent. Soccer has the Cape Cod Crusaders, one of the top teams in the amateur PDL. Watch the Crusaders in action against neighboring Rhode Island at Barnstable High School in their final home game of the regular season. They feature such talent as South Florida's Kareem Smith, who has played for U.S. and Trinidad & Tobago national youth teams, three-time America East Defender of the Year Graham Munro and 2005 NSCAA JC Division III Player of the Year Dwight Barnett, who will play college soccer next fall for DII power Lynn University.
JULY 23.The U.S. women continue their preparations for 2007 Women's World Cup qualifying with a friendly against Ireland. The Americans have beaten the Irish all four times they've met (5-0, 5-0, 5-1 and 5-0), but the Irish are improving. They narrowly lost to world champion Germany, 1-0, in May, and have many players with U.S. connections, including several playing for the W-League's New Hampshire Phantoms and Long Island Lady Riders.
JULY 23.Chivas-Club America, Mexico's Superclßsico? No, it's the next best thing - MLS's Chivas USA against Club America in a special exhibition match at Home Depot Center. Rebuilding Club America picked up Argentine Matias Vuoso and Paraguayan Salvador Cabanas from Santos and Jaguares, respectively, in the recent Mexican league draft.
SUMMER READING''The Treasures of the World Cup'' by Keir Radnedge, Mark Bushell & Gary Lineker (Carlton, $50)
You've fallen hard for the World Cup and want to learn more. ''The Treasures of the World Cup'' is more than just another book about the history of the World Cup. It contains rare soccer memorabilia, including game programs, match tickets, posters, stickers and postcards from the National Football Museum in Preston, England, and private collections around the world.
JULY 25-30.Des Moines, Iowa, is the capital of youth soccer this summer when the 2006 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships are held at James W. Cownie Soccer Park. U.S. Youth Soccer's four regions send their six boys and six girls champions to Des Moines, where 12 teams will be crowned national champions.
JULY 26.Tim Howard comes ''home'' when English club Everton travels to Columbus to face the Crew in an international friendly. Howard, who joined Everton on a one-year loan from Manchester United after three seasons at Old Trafford, is one of three Toffees who went to the World Cup, along with Portuguese defender Nuno Valente and Australian midfielder Tim Cahill. The Crew puts its unbeaten record against EPL teams on the line. It beat Leeds, 2-1, in 1997, tied Newcastle, 2-2, in 2000, and defeated Fulham, 2-1, in 2005.
JULY 28-29.The fastest-growing national league in the country is the Women's Premier Soccer League, which expanded to 39 teams in 2006. WPSL's top four teams meet in the final four hosted by the Utah Spiders at Soaring Eagle Stadium in Salt Lake City. U.S. stars Shannon Boxx and Abby Wambach left the league to enter the national team residency program, but WPSL teams have attracted dozens of international stars from such countries as Italy, China, Australia and Mexico. The big name is Mexican Maribel Dominguez, who signed a professional contract with Mexican men's club Celaya last year but had it voided by FIFA. She later signed with Barcelona before joining FC Indiana, the reigning WPSL champion, as player/assistant coach.
JULY 29-31. AUG. 5-7.Played over two weekends, the Surf Cup XXII is unique among most top-flight youth tournaments in that all games are played at one location - at the San Diego Polo Club in Del Mar, Calif., located north of San Diego. This year, the U-10 to U-15 divisions are played over the first weekend, and the U-16 to U-19 over the second weekend, the opening weekend of the new youth soccer season. Last year, the tournament attracted 336 teams, one-third of them state champions. The economic impact of the tournament exceeds $10 million.
JULY 30.The U.S. women take on longtime rival Canada at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The game will be a homecoming of sorts for several U.S. players. Cat Whitehill, Lindsay Tarpley and Lori Chalupny recently finished their college careers at the University of North Carolina, while forward Heather O'Reilly has one more season of eligibility remaining. U.S. captain Kristine Lilly also attended UNC, graduating in 1993. They know many of Canada's stars from their stints in the U.S. college ranks. The USA won the last meeting with Canada, 2-0, in 2005. The game was Coach Greg Ryan's first official match as head coach. The USA is 29-3-3 all-time against the Canadians and has won seven out of the last eight meetings.
SUMMER READING''Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America's Forgotten Game'' by David Wangerin (When Saturday Comes Books, www.wsc.co.uk, ú16.99)
From the publisher of excellent books on the soccer of Spain (''Morbo'') and Germany (''Tor!'') comes this comprehensive and engaging tour through the roller-coaster history of the American game. Author David Wangerin has done a great service by providing this enlightening and entertaining account of the fascinating characters and unique circumstances that have defined U.S. soccer for nearly a century.
AUG. 2.Cup fever has yet to sweep the American soccer landscape like its does each year in England, where the FA Cup has produced memorable upsets for more than a century. But the round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup could be the chance for a few teams to spring surprises. Eight MLS teams enter U.S. Soccer's cup competition at this stage, where they are joined the winners of eight series. The year's competition, which kicked off June 7, features 42 pro and amateur teams.
AUG. 3-6.The inaugural Super-20 League concludes its first season with the North American Finals at the home of the New Hampshire-based Seacoast United Soccer Club. The top boys and girls team in each division converges on Seacoast's facilities for the four-day tournament. The Super-20 was formed by the USL and U.S. Club Soccer this year to give players ages 17-20 a chance to play at a higher level and help bridge the gap between youth and senior ball.
AUG. 4-6.The Vancouver Whitecaps put their claim to having one of the best women's teams in the world on the line when they host the W-League final four to be played at the Whitecaps' Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, B.C. The Whitecaps, who feature Canadian superstar Christine Sinclair and American veteran Tiffany Milbrett, have a bye to the final four. Other Canadian stars on the Whitecaps include 2004 Soccer America College Women's Player of the Year Katie Thorlakson and UCLA's Kara Lang. The Caps, who led the W-League in average attendance with 3,754 a game in 2005, are joined the Eastern, Central and Western champions.
AUG. 5.Catch Chelsea's newest superstars, Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko and German Michael Ballack, in action as the Blues take on the MLS all-stars in the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game at the Fire's Bridgeview Stadium.
AUG. 6.Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Rafa Marquez and the rest of the Barcelona crew kick off the FC Barcelona Tour in Los Angeles. The Barca-Chivas Guadalajara game is part of a doubleheader with the Chivas USA-New England MLS game.
SUMMER READING''Soccerhead : An Accidental Journey into the Heart of the American Game'' by Jim Haner (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $24) Take a look inside the world of youth soccer with Baltimore Sun writer Jim Haner, who falls in love with soccer after coaching a Washington, D.C., suburban team on which is son plays. He learns of soccer's deep roots in the United States and the game's enduring qualities.
AUG. 9.Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o, Rafa Marquez and the rest of the Barca crew move on to Houston for the second game of their 2006 USA Tour. Barca faces Club America at Reliant Stadium as part of a doubleheader with the Dynamo-Los Angeles Galaxy MLS game. The tour is part of Barca's preparations for its first big test of the 2006-07 season, the UEFA Super Cup against Spanish rival Sevilla Aug. 25 in Monaco.
Barcelona closes out its 2006 USA Tour with its lone game against MLS competition. The Red Bulls take on the Spanish champion at Giants Stadium. It's the Catalan club's first appearance in the Meadowlands since it played in the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Cup.
AUG. 12.The USL Premier Development League, the 59-team national amateur league, wraps up its season with the final. One of the two finalists will host the game. Last year, the Des Moines Menace won its first title, beating the El Paso Patriots on penalty kicks. The Menace returns a veteran squad, featuring Czech Tomas Boltnar, the two-time PDL Player of the Year, and local NAIA stars Armin Mujdzic, who is transferring to UAB, and Edwin Disang.
AUG. 12.This is the Real deal. Real Madrid travels to Salt Lake City to face MLS's Real Salt Lake in the ''Battle for the Crown.'' Real Madrid vice president Emilio Butragueno says the game is the first step in a long-term partnership with RSL. Zinedine Zidane has retired and Ronaldo was expected to be sold, but England star David Beckham returns to U.S. soil for the second straight summer with Real Madrid.
ON THE TUBEAug. 19. Six weeks after the end of the World Cup, the English Premier League kicks off a new season. Catch the EPL action on Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports USA.
AUG. 26.The USL-2 title is decided at the home of one of the two finalists. The difference in play between the USL First and Second Divisions isn't as great as it used to be. Former USL-1 clubs such as the Richmond Kickers and Charlotte Eagles were the early favorites to make a run at the USL-2 title. The Eagles won the 2005 title and finished second in 2004. The Kickers, who moved down to the USL-2 after nine seasons in the USL-1, feature former MLS No. 1 draft pick Chris Carrieri and Ugandan star Robert Ssejjemba.
AUG. 27.Is there life after Christine Sinclair? Defending NCAA Division I women's champion Portland faces a tough test on the first weekend of the season when it travels to Tallahassee, Fla., to face Florida State, the surprise of last year's final four. UP lost Sinclair, who set an NCAA Division I single-season record by scoring 39 goals, and Lindsey Huie, both four-year all-Americans, but it returns three other all-Americans: Stephanie Lopez, Megan Rapinoe and Angie Woznuk. Florida State is loaded with international talent. The Noles' turnaround in 2005 coincided with the arrival of Germans Katrin Schmidt and Viola Odebrecht, Australian Sel Kuralay, Dutchwoman Kirsten Van de Ven and Japanese Mami Yamaguchi.
AUG. 28.Want a chance to meet Philip Anschutz in the flesh? The reclusive Anschutz, who has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Major League Soccer, is one among those being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Admission is free to the public for the 2006 Hall of Fame inductions in Oneonta, N.Y. Alexi Lalas and Carla Overbeck, two of American soccer's stars of the 1990s, and Al Trost, one of the best Americans to play in the North American Soccer League, will also be inducted. MLS's Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew meet in an afternoon exhibition at Oneonta's At-A-Glance Field. The Hall is closed for general viewing the day of induction ceremonies, but it is otherwise open this summer through Labor Day 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. The Hall features a museum and interactive ''Kicks Zone'' game area. Visitors learn the little known story of soccer whose roots in America date back to the 19th century and get in the action. Interactive features allow visitors to kick and head balls as well be challenged with custom designed computer games.
SEPT. 1.Defending NCAA Division I men's champion Maryland plays its first home game of the season when it hosts UCLA. Three years ago, the Terrapins set a Ludwig attendance record when they drew a crowd of 6,143 for their 1-0 victory over the Bruins. Last year, UCLA prevailed, 4-0, at home early in the season. Maryland's Sasha Cirovski recruited three of his stars - goalie Chris Seitz, midfielder Maurice Edu and forward Robbie Rogers - out UCLA's backyard. UCLA has one of the country's top recruiting class, led by former U.S. U-17 star Kyle Nakazawa.
SEPT. 2.Bragging rights for Texas should be on the line when FC Dallas hosts the Houston Dynamo in their final meeting of the regular season. The winner of the series between the two Western Conference clubs takes home ''El Capitßn,'' a Mountain Howitzer cannon. The Lone Star rivalry got off to a spectacular start in May when the Dynamo won the first meeting, 4-3, before 21,448 fans in Houston. It led, 3-0, at halftime after three goals in 14 minutes, but it had to hold off FCD, which got three goals of its own in the second half.
SEPT. 2.The Rocky Mountain Cup is decided when Real Salt Lake hosts the Colorado Rapids in the fourth and final meeting of the season between the MLS Western Conference teams. Jeff Cunningham helped the Rapids win the 2005 Rocky Mountain Cup, but he's now with RSL. In their first meeting of 2006, Cunningham scored a goal and an assist as RSL tied the Rapids, 2-2.
(This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Soccer America magazine.)