The U.S. women will try to give
Compelling story lines all for what figures to be a trying 2015 in U.S. soccer. But a year after tens of thousands of Americans flocked to Brazil to watch the World Cup in person and a record 26 million more watched the final at home, the goal for soccer in the new year won't be to continue that growth but rather to avoid sliding too far in the other direction.
The European leagues and many TV networks are betting the U.S. sticks with soccer. Germany's
Here's a look at what to expect in soccer in the new year:
What challenges face the U.S. women's team in next summer's World Cup in Canada?
The U.S. was drawn into the strongest of the tournament's six four-team groups. The top-ranked Americans are paired with No. 5 Sweden, No. 10 Australia and Nigeria, Africa's best women's team. Sweden beat the U.S. in group play four years ago and will be stronger this time since
Then there's also the matter of the playing surface. FIFA, global soccer's governing body, says this will be the first World Cup played on artificial turf, something a growing coalition of women's players — led by U.S. stars Wambach and
Can the Galaxy keep winning without Donovan?
Absolutely. But whether it can keep winning without
Is the European trend toward super clubs good for the sport?
It is if you're a fan of those clubs. But the consolidation of talent on the rosters of Real Madrid, Barcelona,
Munich is unbeaten in its first 17 matches in the Bundesliga, a league it has won each of the last two seasons. And Paris Saint-Germain is well positioned to win its third consecutive French title. UEFA, the governing body for European soccer, has tried to level the playing field with its Financial Fair Play guidelines. But proof of how ineffectual that plan has been was demonstrated when
What happened to the World Cup bounce in the U.S.?
Well, if you're talking about the TV bounce, it continued through the
It's easy to assume — but difficult to prove — that many viewers simply stayed with soccer after last summer's World Cup, which also broke viewership records in the U.S. For men's soccer there will no such draw this summer since the biggest tournament is the
Is this the year Klinsmann and MLS Commissioner Don Garber become friends?
No. Since taking over the U.S. national team four years ago, Klinsmann has repeatedly questioned the quality of the MLS and its players. And Garber has repeatedly fought back, defending the league and its players. But each man is doing exactly what he was hired to do. Klinsmann's job is to put together the best team he can and if he feels playing in MLS will not prepare his players for international competition, he has to say so. Garber's job is to make money for the league and its owners. And having the country's top soccer authority putting the league down isn't helpful.
While they may never be friends, though, there's no question Klinsmann and Garber need one another. Remember, 10 of the players Klinsmann took to Brazil last summer came off MLS rosters — though he found five others in Germany .