The biggest event for the world's most popular sport is rapidly approaching this summer with the 2014 Men's World Cup Tournament.
Team USA is gearing up to make their hardest run ever at the title. This year's World Cup begins on June 12 in Brazil, when the Brazilians play Croatia in the opening match. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsman sees time ticking away rapidly until the start of the Cup, now approximately only six weeks away. Klinsman feels the U.S. is very much ready as far as energy level and preparation for the start of the tourney.
"We are an interesting prospect," Klinsman said.
First, however, potent striker Jozy Altidore must find the net more frequently. If that happens, America could be something special.
USA goalkeeper Tim Howard will be a busy man, especially facing the likes of Germany and Portugal in their rugged Group G bracket.
Our players will report to the Olympic training camp at Stanford University on May 14. The FIFA deadline to submit their 23-man final roster is June 2. The men's Group G opener happens on June 16 against Ghana in Natal, Brazil. It looks now like 14 Major League Soccer players, eight European players, and one Mexican-based player will make the flight to Brazil as part of the U.S. Olympic team.
Last year was the most successful year in U.S. soccer men's history. Their performance the last two years has been outstanding. It served to build the confidence and the mind-set that they could compete with anybody.
They have done their homework on Portugal, Germany and Ghana in their group. Klinsman has referred to their Group G bracket as "the Group of Death," saying the competition couldn't get anymore difficult.
The play of America's key midfielders - Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley - will go a long way in determining USA's success in the Cup, and could be the keystone to success.
A definite must for fans awaiting World Cup play is the ESPN series "Inside U.S. Soccer's March to Brazil," which will air weekly beginning May 13. It will have a great deal of information on the U.S. teams preparation for the Cup.
Ladies up next
The U.S. National Women's team is busy preparing one of the best teams in the world for next years Women's World Cup in Canada.
It is only about six months away from the start of the 2015 World Cup regional qualifying tournament in Mexico. The women have been riding a 43-game winning streak and captured gold at the London Olympics, but unexpected twists have left the team with uncertainty and a lack of leadership.
U.S. National coach Tom Sermanni was removed from his head coaching position, which left the team without any permanent leadership.
Sermanni was blindsided by his dismissal as his team went to the Algarve Cup with a 13-0-3 record, but the American team faltered badly and finished with a dismal 1-2-1 record.
There definitely seems to be some issues with integrating a younger group of players with popular and influential veterans like Abby Wombach, Christy Rampone and Hope Solo, who are nearing the end of their international careers. The U.S. Soccer Federation is now unhappy with the direction of the team under Sermanni. Federation Director Jill Ellis will serve as the interim coach.
The timing of the dismissal of Sermanni and change of leadership comes at a terrible point for the squad. Team unity is very questionable and the team's primary goal of capturing the Cup in Canada seems to be in some jeopardy.
Despite its past success, the women have not won the Cup title since hosting it in 1999. No decision on a head coach will be made until early summer and this could spell disaster for the team, leaving the new coach only a few months to prepare for the Fall qualifying tournament and about a year to get ready to capture the elusive World Cup.