2016 MLSsoccer.com Almanac: From Combine to Cup, all the dates you need to know

As we open the New Year, it's essential to plan your four seasons of soccer. Take a look at this year's key dates and mark down the ones that matter to you!

Winter

January: US men’s national team camp | USMNT fans will likely get a glimpse of some of the MLS stars they’ve been yearning to see in the Stars and Stripes in a combined senior and U-23 camp.

January 7: MLS Schedule Release | After the league revealed the 20 home openers last month, this is when the season's full slate drops, with the March 6 kick off just two months away!

January 7-12: MLS Combine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida | One last audition for some of college soccer’s top players before the draft.

January 11: FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala | FIFA announces the winners of all its annual awards, including the Ballon d'Or, awarded to the player of the year, and the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, as voted by fans around the world.

January 14: MLS SuperDraft, Baltimore, Maryland | Will a team find the next Cyle Larin?

January 31: USMNT vs. Iceland | The first test of the year for the USMNT comes in Carson, California, against Euro 2016 qualifiers Iceland.

February 3-9: Desert Friendlies, Tucson, Arizona | Six MLS teams (Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Houston, San Jose and New England) travel to Arizona for the first part of MLS Preseason in Tucson (tickets).

February 5: USMNT vs. Canada | It’s friendly in name only when these two neighbors meet, again in Carson.

February 10-21: CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Houston and Dallas | The USWNT has never failed to qualify for either the Olympics or the World Cup.

February 17-27: Desert Diamond Cup, Tucson, Arizona | The New England Revolution, Columbus Crew SC, Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City join USL's Arizona United to wrap up the preseason (tickets).

February 21-27: Simple Invitational, Portland, Oregon | The Rose City will host their hometown Timbers, the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Fire, and future MLS outfit Minnesota United in a week-long preseason tournament (tickets).

February 23 – March 2: CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals | MLS vs. Liga MX over two legs, four times over.

  • Seattle Sounders vs. Club América (2/23 & 3/2)
  • Queretaro vs. D.C. United (2/23 & 3/1)
  • UANL Tigres vs. Real Salt Lake (2/24 & 3/2)
  • LA Galaxy vs. Santos Laguna (2/24 & 3/1)

Late February: First 2016 issue of Howler is out

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Spring

March 6: MLS Opening Weekend | The league’s 21st season gets underway.

March 25: United States at Guatemala + Canada vs. Mexico, World Cup qualifiers | The first competitive tests for the US and Canada in 2016, and two of their toughest.

March 29: USMNT vs. Guatemala + Canada at Mexico, World Cup qualifiers | The US are back in the friendly confines of MAPFRE Stadium, where three points will be expected, while Canada travel to the most unfriendly confines of the Estadio Azteca, where one point would be cause for a national holiday.

Late March: Olympic qualifying vs. Colombia | This two-legged, home-and-away series is the last chance for the U-23s to make Rio 2016, lest they miss out on a second straight Olympic tournament.

Mid-April: Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival | The annual soccer-culture extravaganza co-founded by MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas returns to New York City for the 8th year running. Expect great films, lively debate, and a few soccer celebritiesLearn more...

April 14-16: "Soccer as a Global Phenomenon" Conference | Three professors at Harvard host a three-day conference to discuss soccer's "success as a global industry with many interlocking parts in an intricate architecture of organizations that represent clubs, nations, regions, and continents."

April 20 & 27: CONCACAF Champions League Final | After the Montreal Impact came oh so close in 2015, will an MLS team finally break through CONCACAF’s glass ceiling?

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Summer

June 3 - 26: Copa América "Centenario" | Celebrating 100 years of soccer’s oldest running international tournament, this special edition of the Copa will see the US and Mexico go toe-to-toe with the likes of Lionel Messi (Argentina), Neymar (Brazil), and Luis Suarez (Uruguay).

June 10-July 10: Euro 2016 | While the Western Hemisphere’s best are at it in the USA, the likes of Sebastian Giovinco (Italy), Robbie Keane (Ireland), and Krisztian Nemeth (Hungary) will be in France battling for the European championship with their national teams.

June/July: 2016 Amway Canadian Championship | Canada’s five pro teams will play for the Voyageurs Cup, national bragging rights, and a spot in the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League.

Late July: 2016 MLS All-Star Game | The league’s annual summer showcase heads to San Jose’s brand-new Avaya Stadium.  

August 3-20: 2016 Olympic soccer tournaments | Barring a huge upset in qualifying, the US women’s national team will be defending their title in Rio de Janeiro. The men? It all depends on what happens in the aforementioned qualifying series against Colombia. 

September 2: United States at St. Vincent and the Grenadines | The USMNT scored a 6-1 home win against the Vincy Heat in November 2015. What can they muster against the group’s minnows on the road?

September 6: United States vs. Trinidad and Tobago | The USMNT’s final game in the Fourth Round of World Cup qualifying – will their fate come down to it?

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Fall

Late October: 2016 MLS #DecisionDay | The 34-week regular season concludes with synchronized kick offs across the Eastern and Western Conferences. Playoff positioning, as well as team and individual accolades, will be decided at those final whistles.

November: 2016 MLS Playoffs | 12 more teams enter the gauntlet.

November 7: CONCACAF World Cup Qualfying – "The Hexagonal" | The final round of World Cup qualifying, a.k.a., "the Hex," begins for North American teams, with three berths in Russia (plus one playoff spot) up for grabs.

Early December: 2016 MLS Cup | A new champion will be crowned.

December 9-11: 2016 College Cup | The final four college soccer teams compete for the national championship at the Houston Dynamo's BBVA Compass Stadium. 

Mid-December: 2016 FIFA Club World Cup | Will we see an MLS team take on the world’s best in Japan?

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