2020 Soccer Almanac: All the key dates and major tournaments

2020 Soccer Almanac

A new year – and a new decade! – is at hand, and 2020 is shaping up as a big one across North American soccer. Here are some key dates.

Winter 2020

Jan. 3: MAC Hermann Trophy ceremony - St. Louis, Mo.
The top individual prize in college soccer, this award recognizing the NCAA’s best is presented at a dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club. The 2019 finalists are Joe Bell (Virginia), Dylan Nealis (Georgetown, already signed to MLS) and Robbie Robinson (Clemson, a Generation adidas signing). The finalists for the women’s award are Jessie Fleming (UCLA), Emily Fox (North Carolina) and Catarina Macario (Stanford).

Jan. 5-25: US men’s national team January camp - Doha, Qatar
With the unique environs of World Cup 2022 in mind, Gregg Berhalter takes the USMNT to the Aspire Academy for the traditional January camp, a chance for MLS-based players to build sharpness and young players and those on the fringes of the player pool to show themselves. The squad pulls up stakes for Carson, California to spend the final week of their camp at the site of their first match of the year (see below).

Jan. 5-15: US women’s national team January camp - Tampa, Fla.
The back-to-back defending world champions start their 2020 under the Florida sunshine, making preparations for Olympic qualifying, the first step towards their biggest mission of the year: Returning to the gold medal podium they once dominated. Their shock quarterfinal loss to Sweden in Brazil four years ago disrupted a long run of USWNT Olympic glory; they’ll seek redemption in Tokyo come summer.

Jan. 9: MLS SuperDraft, presented by adidas
The SuperDraft provides MLS teams the opportunity to bolster their rosters with top talent from NCAA soccer and beyond; this year’s edition will take place as a jointly-produced MLS and ESPN show streamed live on Twitter.

Jan. 9: Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying draw - Guadalajara, Mexico
The Under-23 national teams of Canada, the United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico learn their assignments for the tournament that will decide which two teams will represent the North American region at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The event itself takes place from March 20-April 1 at the Jalisco and Akron Stadiums in Guadalajara.

Jan. 11: MLS preseason begins for Concacaf Champions League participants
Players of Atlanta UnitedNew York City FC, the Montreal ImpactLAFC and the Seattle Sounders report to their respective clubs as preparations for the new season begin.

Jan. 15: Canada vs. Iceland - Irvine, Calif.
Aiming to make one final run at Concacaf’s top six ranked sides in order to reach the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying, John Herdman and the Canadian men’s national team open 2020 with a training camp and friendly in sunny Southern California; the match will take place at Orange County Great Park.

Jan. 15-19: United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) Convention - Baltimore, Md.
The North American game’s annual winter reunion, gathering thousands of coaches, players, executives and just about everyone else in the sport for education, meetings and networking. Returns to the familiar environs of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2020.

Jan. 16: NWSL College Draft - Baltimore, Md.
The National Women's Soccer League, North America's top women's pro league, ramps up towards its eighth season of play with its annual draft, held at the site of the USC convention.

Jan. 18: MLS preseason begins for the rest of MLS
While the five CCL participants got an early start due to that competition’s schedule, the rest of MLS gets underway on this date.

Feb. 1: USMNT vs. Costa Rica - Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, Calif.
The senior national team wrap January camp with a friendly vs. Los Ticos, also an impending opponent in Concacaf World Cup qualifying later in the year.

Jan. 28-Feb. 9: 2020 Concacaf women's Olympic qualifying - Texas & California
The road to gold at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begins for the US and Canadian women’s national teams and their Concacaf colleagues. The top two finishers in this tournament qualify. Group-stage play takes place at Houston’s BBVA Stadium and H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas, with the knockout stages at Dignity Health Sports Park.

February 13-16: U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting - Nashville, Tenn.
The 2020 edition of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s annual gathering of member associations and stakeholders is highlighted by the vice presidential election, to be contested between current VP Cindy Parlow Cone and US Adult Soccer president John Motta.

Feb. 15-22: Visit Tucson Sun Cup - Tucson, Ariz.
USL Championship club and aspiring MLS expansion contenders Phoenix Rising FC welcome five MLS clubs to the desert for this annual preseason event. This year features Columbus Crew SC, the Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City.

Feb. 16-22: Portland Timbers preseason tournament - Portland, Ore.
After the refurbishment and expansion of their home stadium scotched it over the previous two years, the Timbers get back into the preseason hosting game as they welcome Minnesota United, the New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps to Providence Park for three doubleheader matchdays in the heart of the Rose City.

Feb. 18-27: Concacaf Champions League Round of 16
North America's club championship tournament kicks off its 16-team knockout bracket, each matchup a two-legged goal-aggregate series. Atlanta, LAFC, NYCFC, Montreal and Seattle are this year’s MLS representatives.

Feb. 29: MLS regular season begins
Major League Soccer hits the quarter-century mark in 2020, and this, the earliest opening day in league history, features eight matches, the first of which is D.C. United vs. Colorado Rapids (1 pm ET) at Audi Field. Later in the evening, Nashville SC host Atlanta in their inaugural MLS match, while Inter Miami visit LAFC for their debut the following day.

Spring 2020

March 5-11: SheBelieves Cup - locations TBA
The USWNT welcome three other elite women’s sides to the States for this annual spring tournament, a key test against top opposition.

March/April TBA: Generation adidas Cup finals - Frisco, Tex.
MLS’s top youth competition, GA Cup features U-17 and U-15 academy sides facing off in regional qualifying during the fall and winter periods in pursuit of a place in the top-flight Champions Division of the finals event, hosted at the Toyota Soccer Center, home of FC Dallas. Usually taking place around the same time as the historic Dallas Cup, the finals include top academy sides from major overseas clubs.

March 10-19: Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals
The eight survivors of the opening round meet in another set of two-legged, home-and-home series, with the winners advancing to the semifinals.

March TBA: USL Championship regular season begins
Packed with MLS second teams and affiliate partners, the second-tier professional league gets its campaign underway; Real Salt Lake’s affiliate club Real Monarchs SLC are defending champs.

March 12-13: FIFA Council meeting - Asuncion, Paraguay
This executive conclave of the leaders of world soccer’s governing body is likely to include a full slate of the usual funding and policy deliberations.

March 14: Inter Miami’s first home MLS match - Inter Miami CF Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Can we call it the Beckham derby? One of MLS’s newest arrivals welcome the LA Galaxy to their temporary venue, built on the site of the former Lockhart Stadium, for their 2019 home opener.

March 20-April 1: Concacaf men’s Olympic qualifying - Guadalajara, Mexico
The Under-23 national teams of Canada, the United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico compete for one of Concacaf’s two places at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo; matches held at the Jalisco and Akron stadiums.

March 21: Chicago Fire FC home opener - Soldier Field
The rebranded Fire make their return to the downtown venue where they resided in their early years, hosting Atlanta United in their 2020 home opener.

March 23-31: FIFA international fixture window
The first opportunity of the year for men’s national teams to schedule camps and matches with the full availability of their player pools. The USMNT are set to gather for two friendlies in Europe, the first vs. the Netherlands in Eindhoven on March 26 and the second still to be announced. Meanwhile, 2022 World Cup qualifying will kick off in Africa and South America.

March 24: 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup begins
Restructured for 2020, the historic tournament makes its earliest start of the modern era in order to give participating teams more time between rounds. Featuring teams from all levels of the American soccer pyramid from amateur and professional, the Open Cup dates back to 1914 and is one of the oldest soccer competitions in the world. Atlanta United are defending champions; the 2020 Open Cup winner will earn $300,000 in prize money, a berth in the 2021 CCL and have their name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy.

March 27: USL League One regular season begins
The third-tier professional league, primarily comprising smaller markets and youth-oriented MLS reserve sides, begins its second season of existence with 12 teams, including the second teams of FC Dallas, Miami, New England, Orlando City and Minnesota affiliates Forward Madison FC.

April, dates TBA: Canadian Premier League begins
Canada’s new league kicks off its second season with the same seven teams: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Langford (British Columbia), Winnipeg and York (Ontario).

April 7-16: Concacaf Champions League semifinals
CCL resumes with the four quarterfinal winners facing off in another set of two-legged, home-and-home series; winners advance to the Champions League final.

April, dates TBA: NWSL season begins
The women's league kicks off its eighth season of play with nine member teams, including siblings of MLS sides in Houston, Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake.

April 21: MLS teams begin to enter Open Cup (3rd Round)
The first 11 US-based MLS teams (those who finished lower in the 2019 league standings) enter the U.S. Open Cup, starting in the third round.

April 28-May 7: Concacaf Champions League final
The two finalists for the title of North America's top club face off in a two-legged, home-and-home series, with the winner to represent Concacaf at the FIFA Club World Cup. Liga MX powers CF Monterrey are the current holders.

May, dates TBA: 70th FIFA Congress - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The grand annual gathering of the world governing body’s legislature takes place in East Africa this time around.

May 19: Remaining MLS teams enter Open Cup (Round of 32)
The other 12 US-based MLS teams (those who finished higher in the 2019 league standings) enter the U.S. Open Cup at the round of 32 stage.

May 20: UEFA Champions League final - Istanbul, Turkey
One of the biggest games in the world every year, this affair will star the final two survivors of the Champions League, dueling for the trophy that represents the summit of European club soccer.

Summer 2020

June 1-9: FIFA international fixture window
National teams around the world will gather for the first fixture dates of the North American summer; the Concacaf Nations League semifinals will likely be the main attraction in this region.

June 4: Concacaf Nations League Semifinals
Concacaf’s newest competition approaches its crescendo as top seeds Mexico play fourth seed Costa Rica in one semifinal and the third-seeded US face second-seeded Honduras in the other. The winners advance to the CNL championship final on June 7.

June 10: U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 begins

June 16: 2020 Canadian Championship begins
Every year Canada’s pro and top semi-pro teams compete for the Voyageurs Cup, national bragging rights and a CCL berth. The Montreal Impact are defending champions.

June 12-July 12: Euros & Copa América

Brace yourselves: Two of the biggest international tournaments in the world are unfolding in near-unison this summer…

  • 2020 Copa América - Argentina and Colombia

Another huge event on the world’s calendar, the latest incarnation of South America’s championship features a new bi-hosting format across venues in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, La Plata, Mendoza and Santiago del Estaro as well as Barranquilla, Medellin, Bogota and Cali. CONMEBOL’s 10 member nations will take part along with guests Australia and Qatar; Brazil are defending champions. This is the first installation in the tournament’s new even-year quadrennial scheduling format, and several MLS-based players are expected to feature.

  • UEFA European Championship - various venues

Bigger and broader than ever, Euro 2020 will be a sprawling event featuring 24 teams, hosted in 12 cities in 12 countries across the Old Continent; Portugal are reigning champs. Five MLS-based players have already played a part in their nations qualifying, while at least another eight remain in the frame as playoff participants.

July 22-Aug. 8: Olympic football tournament - Japan

Seven venues in six Japanese cities will host the men’s (a predominantly Under-23 tournament with 16 teams) and women’s (12 teams, full senior squads) soccer tournaments at the Tokyo Olympics. Brazil are the current men’s gold-medal holders; meanwhile, under UEFA’s unusual qualifying approach 2016 women’s champs Germany won’t get to defend their medals thanks to their loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals of last year’s Women’s World Cup.

July 29: 2020 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target - Los Angeles
LAFC’s glittering downtown home, Banc of California Stadium, will welcome the best of North America, and beyond, for a first-of-its-kind summer showdown: MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX All-Stars.

Aug. 11-12 or Sept. 22-24: U.S. Open Cup final

August, dates TBA: 2020 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup - Costa Rica & Panama
Two Central American nations will host one of the most important women’s youth international tournaments in the world.

Aug. 20-23: Heineken Rivalry Week
A showcase of the heated showdowns that inspire such passion in players and fans alike, this event features seven rivalry clashes around MLS.

August/September, date TBA: 2020 Campeones Cup - CenturyLink Field, Seattle
The third edition of the one-off clash between the champions of MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX takes place at C-Link, with 2019 MLS Cup winners the Seattle Sounders to host Mexico’s “Campeon de Campeones,” the winner of the annual meeting between the fall and spring season champs; Monterrey won the 2019 Apertura and will face the winner of the 2020 Clausura for the right to meet Seattle.

Fall 2020

Aug. 31-Sept. 8: FIFA international fixture window; Concacaf WCQs begin
National teams can call up their full teams to play as many as two matches during this period, and in the North American region qualifying for the 2022 World Cup officially begins.

Sept. 16-23: Canadian Championship final

Oct. 22-25: USL League One playoffs
The third-tier pro league’s top four finishers in its single-table standings advance to the postseason.

Oct. 4: 2020 MLS #DecisionDay
The MLS regular season concludes in dramatic fashion with synchronized kickoffs of 13 games across the Eastern and Western Conferences, and final places in the standings and the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on the line.

Oct. 5-13: FIFA international fixture window
Whether for World Cup qualifying or friendly action, the USMNT and CanMNT will probably gather in this period.

October, dates TBA: MLS Cup Playoffs begin
The final sprint to MLS Cup gets underway with Round 1 action, featuring the second through seventh seeds in each conference, while the first-place regular-season finishers in each conference enjoy a bye to the conference semifinals.

October, dates TBA: USL Championship regular season concludes
The second division moves into its postseason, a single-elimination bracket that climaxes with USL Cup.

October, dates TBA: 2020 NWSL playoffs - sites TBA
The NWSL season concludes with its postseason; four of the league’s nine teams qualify for the postseason, with the championship game held at a predetermined site yet to be named.

Nov. 2-21: 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup - India
Another key women’s youth international tournament, likely to include the US and/or Canada.

Nov. 7: 2020 MLS Cup - site TBD
The league’s new champions will be crowned – unless the incumbent Seattle Sounders hoist the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy again?

Nov. 9-17: FIFA international fixture window

Dec. 4 and 6: 2020 Women’s College Cup - Cary, N.C.
The final four survivors in the NCAA Division I women's soccer postseason tournament duel for the national championship at WakeMed Soccer Park, home of North Carolina FC and the North Carolina Courage. Stanford University are defending champions.

Dec. 11 and 13: 2020 Men’s College Cup - Santa Barbara, Calif.
The final four contenders in the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament vie for the national championship, this year hosted by UC Santa Barbara at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. Georgetown University are defending champions.