Considering everything that happened in 2013 in domestic soccer, can there be any question that the year was the most newsworthy, eventful year yet for the sport in our country?
The national team’s dramatic fall and rise in perception bracketed the year in soccer news. According to whom you did or didn’t believe, Jurgen Klinsmann’s program was in tatters. Then it wasn’t.
In fact, “it wasn’t” became a huge understatement. But year’s end, Klinsmann’s improvements initiatives having apparently taken hold, the national team had enjoyed previously unseen highs.
Along the way, as memory makers go it’s nearly impossible to top the “Snow Clasico,” not only for the surreal and amazing aesthetics, but also for the way it helped turn around the entire World Cup qualification campaign.
Take a gander at the other elements that made 2013 the most eventful, newsy year in U.S. soccer history:
- Robbie Rogers coming out as a gay man and retiring. Then un-retiring and returning to Major League Soccer. That became an important story in sports generally, one that transcended soccer.
- Landon Donovan’s sabbatical, a news story that sprung all kinds of tentacles (for club and country). Foremost was his estrangement from the national team, which then evolved into one of the summer’s big news makers: his glorious return to national team grace.
- Not coincidentally, Donovan’s reemergence drove the U.S. Gold Cup conquest, as the playmaker’s sensational form led a dominant United States tournament performance.
- Later, back in his club jersey, Landon Donovan equaled Major League Soccer’s career scoring record.
- Jozy Altidore’s record-setting year abroad, the best year ever for a U.S. scorer in Europe.
- Altidore’s amazing summer of scoring for the national team, highlighted by his U.S.record of scoring in five consecutive matches.
- Clint Dempsey, still on top of his game, traded in Premier League status for a second run in Major League Soccer, a huge development for a league where the best talent typically migrates out rather than in.
- Huge MLS expansion news, as New York City FC came on-line as the league’s 20th franchise. A few months later, Orlando was announced as No. 21. And all along, news continued to filter out (strategically so, it’s probably worth saying) of David Beckham’s ongoing efforts to plan an MLS expansion flag in Miami.
- The United States qualified for another World Cup, about to appear its seventh consecutive tournament. (Dos a cero. Again!) Later, and certainly related, Klinsmann was signed to another four-year deal.
- The unbelievable drama of the final night of CONCACAF qualifying, a made-for-TV moment if there ever was one.
- And, finally, a World Cup draw for forget for the United States.
All that, plus the usual newsiness of the MLS Cup final, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, notable transfers, trades, retirements, coaching coming and goings, etc.