by John Furgele
Americans cringe at the thought, but soccer remains a global hit, and one of the reasons is that the soccer year is virtually nonstop. On Wednesday, May 21, Manchester United beat Chelsea in penalty kicks to win the 2007-2008 Champions League Final. The game was tied 1-1 after 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time, and thus was decided in the dreaded—and heartbreaking—penalty kicks.
The European soccer leagues begin their seasons in mid-August and the Champions League final ends the third week of May. Unlike other sports, the offseason is very brief. On June 7, the 2008 Eurpoean Championships begin, a 16 nation tournament that will crown its champion on June 29. Only July sees no big games, although several European teams will play friendlies (exhibitions).
The U.S. based Major League Soccer begins in season on the last Saturday in March and ends it the third Sunday in November. So, when you think about it, every week of the year has an important, count-in-the-standings game. When Eurpoean soccer ends, there is United States soccer, when United States soccer ends, there is European soccer with overlap, too. In addition to the regular seasons, there is the U.S. Open Cup, the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, and UEFA Champions League. It’s no wonder the fans are passionate and sometimes go over the top—they get no break, no offseason, no time to recoup.
But, that’s what makes the sport great.