Soccer in the USA can sometimes feel tough to get excited about. Our leagues aren’t the best in the world, organizational problems sometimes cause rifts between leagues and teams, and unfortunately far too often we lose professional clubs. But there are always reasons to be positive. And some fantastic things are on the way to brighten American soccer in 2024.

Copa América

Arguably the second most important international competition in the world, after the World Cup, returns to the USA this upcoming summer in the form of the 48th Copa América tournament.

CONMEBOL’s ten nations will be joined by six from Concacaf, including the United States and Mexico, to battle for the crown of best team in the Americas.

The USMNT has a chance to prove themselves against the stars of South America in what will be a key tournament leading up to the 2026 World Cup, which will also be in the United States.

The tournament kicks off June 20 with Leo Messi and Argentina in Atlanta, while the final will be held in Miami on July 14.

In the opening round, the United States faces Uruguay, Bolivia and Panama.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup

MLS controversially attempted to pull its first teams out of America’s oldest national soccer competition for 2024. But the USSF nixed that idea and it appears, for now at least, the tournament will go on as usual for its 109th edition.

As always, we can expect plenty of drama and hopefully, a few giant slayings and Cinderella runs in this magical competition.

The Open Cup will run from March 19 to September 25.

New pro clubs and a new competition

The game continues to grow in the USA. We’ll have eight brand-new professional clubs hitting the field in 2024 across all three professional divisions and five leagues. This includes the return of the Utah Royals of NWSL, who previously played in the league from 2018-2020. Of the currently existing pro leagues, only Major League Soccer won’t see a new entry this season. However, San Diego FC is on deck for 2025.

Bay FC (NWSL – D1 Women)
Utah Royals (NWSL – D1 Women)
Rhode Island FC (USL Championship – D2 Men)
Spokane Velocity FC (USL League One – D3 Men)
Calabasas FC (NISA – D3 Men)
Irvine Zeta (NISA – D3 Men)
Arizona Monsoon FC (NISA – D3 Men)
Carolina Core FC (MLS NEXT Pro – D3 Men)

In addition, a new tournament joins the US soccer calendar. The still-unnamed competition will be an in-season cup for USL League One clubs.

When will all the action start? Here’s when everything kicks off in 2024:

U.S. Open Cup: March 19
MLS: February 21
NWSL: March 15 (Challenge Cup)
USL Championship: March 9
USL League One: March 9
League One Cup: April 27

But wait, there are even more new clubs on the way. The women’s first division landscape will nearly double in size with the launch of an entirely new league with nine more new clubs:

The USL Super League

USL is launching the Super League, a new division one women’s league, that will kick off in August 2024. Unique in the US, the league will run on the international soccer calendar, from Fall-Spring.

The Super League is set to add nine additional first-division teams in its inaugural season. And more are queued up to join in the coming years. They don’t all have names yet, but these are the new clubs set to kick off in 2024:

Dallas-Fort Worth
Fort Lauderdale
Spokane Zephyr FC
Tampa Bay Sun FC
Washington, D.C.

Following the launch of the Super League in 2024, American domestic pro soccer will now be played nearly year-round, which is an excellent prospect.

CPKC Stadium

Keeping things in the women’s soccer sphere, new ground has literally and figuratively been broken in Kansas City.

CPKC Stadium is set to open in March for the new NWSL season as the home of the Kansas City Current. The 11,500-seat venue is notable because it is the world’s first privately funded venue ever built specifically for a women’s professional club.

This is a milestone moment for women’s soccer not just in America, but around the world. Women’s teams usually play in venues built for the men’s game or other sports. Not anymore. Hopefully, CPKC is the first of many such venues built in the US and abroad.

A full season of Messi

American soccer was turned on its head last summer when the legendary Lionel Messi left PSG and joined MLS’s Inter Miami.

He arrived just in time to take part in the revamped Leagues Cup, which Miami naturally cruised through and won in Messi’s first month in a pink shirt. MLS and Apple might not want you to know about it, but the club also found themselves deep in the U.S. Open Cup, where Messi helped them win a semifinal on penalty kicks and eventually finish as runners-up (he didn’t play in the final).

However, Inter Miami had a dreadful start to their season before Messi arrived, and they missed the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Fans and media will surely be eager to see what the Argentine maestro can do in a full season in America (though they may not be so eager to see the ticket prices).

Surely, American soccer should be in for a banner year in 2024. The first in a string of major international tournaments hosted by the US will kick off. Further, we’ll welcome more clubs and leagues all over the country. And surely many soccer memories will be made.

Photos: Imago / KC Current / Tampa Bay Sun FC