2023 is here and as MLSSoccer.com's Charles Boehm has some key dates you need to know for soccer in 2023!
Jan. 6: 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. Many past winners have gone on to successful professional and international careers. The 2022-23 men’s finalists are Syracuse forward Levonte Johnson, Creighton forward Duncan McGuire and Duke midfielder Peter Stroud; the first two were selected in the first round of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, while the New York Red Bulls hold Stroud’s homegrown rights. This season’s women’s finalists are Notre Dame's Korbin Albert, Duke forward Michelle Cooper and midfielder Jenna Nighswonger of Florida State.
Jan. 6: MLS preseason begins
An epic 10-month journey commences when players and coaches report to their respective clubs as preparations for the new season get underway. Most teams leave their local markets in search of mild temperatures and quiet settings conducive to focusing on the hard work of physical and tactical periodization on the training ground, interspersed with preseason matches. A dozen MLSers are already confirmed to be taking part in the Coachella Valley Invitational in Indio, California from Feb. 1-Feb. 18; look for official announcements of other preseason camps and events in Arizona, Florida and other warm-weather destinations in the coming days.
Jan. 11-15: United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) Convention | Philadelphia
This annual wintertime gathering of thousands of coaches, players, referees, executives and many, many others from across the soccer world is perhaps the biggest event of its kind on earth. This year’s presenters include Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin, Leeds United coach Jesse Marsch and Manchester United's Mike Phelan, and many figures from MLS past and present will also be among the dozens leading seminars and sessions.
Mid-January: US men’s national team January camp | Southern California
The USMNT’s first official gathering of the 2026 World Cup cycle: the usual winter workouts for MLS-based players and others based in leagues with similar schedules. While specific dates and location have not been confirmed, two friendlies have already been announced: vs. Serbia on Jan. 25 at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, and vs. Colombia on Jan. 28 at Dignity Health Sports Park, home of the LA Galaxy. As these matches fall outside FIFA international windows, Gregg Berhalter or whoever succeeds him as USMNT head coach will not be able to call in European-based players on duty at their clubs. Time and programming information has yet to be announced; U.S. Soccer’s new broadcasting deal with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports means these and most other US national team matches in 2023 and beyond will air on TNT, TBS and HBO Max.
January 12-21: US women’s national team January camp | New Zealand
A massive year begins for the four-time, reigning world champs. To get a preview of their surroundings at the FIFA Women’s World Cup come summer, the USWNT are visiting the tournament co-hosts down under for their midwinter camp, headlined by two friendlies against the Football Ferns. The first is on Jan. 18 (10 pm ET kickoff on Jan. 17 due to the 18-hour time difference) at Sky Stadium in Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tara. The second is on Jan. 21 (also a 10 pm ET kickoff the night before due to the 18-hour time difference) at Eden Park in Auckland / Tāmaki Makaurau. Vlatko Andonovski’s side will play group-stage matches at both venues during the WWC.
Jan. 23-Feb. 6: NWSL preseason begins
Players and coaches across the National Women's Soccer League, North America's top women's pro competition, report to their respective clubs as preparations for the new season – NWSL’s 11th – begin.
Jan. 24, 25, 28, 29: eMLS League Series 1
With a $100,000 prize pool – the largest in eMLS history – the end goal, some of the world’s best EA SPORTS FIFA 23 players will represent MLS clubs as the 2023 eMLS season kicks off in New York City. First are remote qualifiers, then the group stage on Jan. 28 and final series bracket games on Jan. 29. Fans can watch on each MLS club’s or player’s respective Twitch and YouTube channels.
Feb. 7, 8, 11, 12: eMLS League Series 2
The season continues Feb. 7-8 with remote qualifiers, the group stage on Feb. 11 and final series bracket matches on Feb. 12. Top finishers advance to the eMLS Cup, set for March 12 in Austin during SXSW.
Feb. 1-11: FIFA Club World Cup | Morocco
The club champions from every confederation in the world gather in North Africa for this unique tournament. The only set occasion on which clubs from different continents face off in competitive action, it confers the rare honor of world champs on the winners, not to mention millions of dollars in prize money. And for the first time ever, MLS will be represented. Thanks to their historic 2022 Concacaf Champions League triumph, the Seattle Sounders will represent the North American region. They’ll be joined by Real Madrid (UEFA), Flamengo (South America), Wydad Casablanca (Africa), Al-Ahly (Africa), Al-Hilal (Asia) and Auckland City (Oceania). FIFA had not announced full schedule details at the time of publication, but media reports suggest Rabat and Tangier will be host cities.
Feb. 7-Nov. 11: 2023 Copa Conmebol Libertadores
The top club competition in South America, Libertadores is a year-long pursuit of that continent’s top club honor by 47 top clubs across 10 nations. With fierce pride, passion and a hefty prize kitty on the line, it’s one of the most compelling tournaments in the world. Brazilian giants Flamengo are defending champs.
Feb. 14-March 15: UEFA Champions League Round of 16
US and Canadian players are featuring in record numbers in Europe’s top club competition. With the group stage complete, the stakes ratchet up that much further as the elimination phase of the 2022-23 tournament gets underway with eight two-legged ties across the Old Continent.
Feb. 16-22: SheBelieves Cup | Frisco, Tx., Nashville, Tenn., Orlando, Fla.
The world-No. 1-ranked US women’s national team welcomes elite women’s sides Brazil, Canada and Japan to the States for this annual spring tournament hosted by U.S. Soccer, held this year at MLS venues Toyota Stadium, GEODIS Park and Exploria Stadium. It’s a key test against top opposition, particularly with the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup looming.
Feb. 18-23: 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification inter-confederation playoffs | New Zealand
Ten teams from around the world will compete for the final three spots in the summer’s WWC via this new tournament, to be played at venues in Auckland and Hamilton. The USWNT will be watching closely, since their third opponent in World Cup Group E will be the winner of playoff Group A – either Cameroon, Portugal or Thailand.
Feb. 25: MLS regular season begins
Year 28 arrives with 29 member clubs. A busy opening-weekend slate kicks off Saturday afternoon with Nashville SC hosting New York City FC at GEODIS Park (4:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass, FOX). Out in Southern California that evening, LAFC and the LA Galaxy will renew their El Trafico showdown in a new setting: the iconic Rose Bowl, where a capacity for more than 90,000 spectators offers the possibility of one of the biggest crowds in league history.
March 4: St. Louis City SC’s inaugural home match | CITYPARK, St. Louis
MLS’s newest club make their home debut against 2022 newcomers Charlotte FC, the inaugural MLS match at their beautiful soccer-specific stadium in the Downtown West District district (8:30 pm ET). City SC will play their first-ever MLS game at Austin FC on opening weekend.
March 7-9: Concacaf Champions League begins
Sixteen teams from across the continent kick off North America's top club championship tournament with Round of 16 first-leg action, continuing with second-leg matchups March 14-16. Austin, LAFC, Orlando, Philadelphia and Vancouver will represent MLS this year.
March 16-19: U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting | San Diego
The 2023 edition of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s annual gathering of board members, member associations and stakeholders. The fed’s board of directors usually meet on the Friday of AGM weekends, with the National Council Meeting on the following day.
March 25: NWSL season begins
It’s the starting line for the 12 clubs of the National Women's Soccer League, North America's top women's pro competition, as the league’s 11th season gets underway. In a format shift from previous campaigns, each team will play 22 league matches, all on weekend dates, while the NWSL Challenge Cup will now run concurrently on midweek dates during the season, an additional six matches per team. The top four finishers in the Challenge Cup’s group stage will advance to a knockout phase in September, while the regular-season slate concludes in October, with the top six finishers taking part in the NWSL playoffs. Several NWSL teams play in MLS venues, and the Houston Dash, Orlando Pride and Portland Thorns are affiliated with their hometown MLS clubs.
March dates TBA: MLS NEXT Pro regular season begins
Major League Soccer’s lower-division professional league, MLS NEXT Pro, kicks off its second season of existence. It provides an integrated player pathway from the MLS NEXT academy competition up to MLS first teams, offering young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents. Columbus Crew 2 won the league’s inaugural championship. Full schedules and other details are to be released in the coming weeks.
March 11: USL Championship season begins
The United States’ second-division pro league kicks off its 2023 campaign with 24 member teams playing a 34-game regular season slate in which, for the first time since 2015, every team will play one another at least once. Full schedules are slated to be released in January. The USL Championship uses a single-elimination playoffs format featuring the top eight finishers in each conference.
March 12: eMLS Cup | Austin
The 2023 eMLS season reaches its grand finale at SXSW. The Last Chance Qualifier to determine the final “Cinderella” participant spot takes place the day before. Spring dates TBA: NISA spring season begins Another third-tier league, the National Independent Soccer Association, will get its spring season underway with an estimated 14 member clubs competing in a split fall/spring calendar. Michigan Stars FC are defending champions. An adjunct amateur/pro-am competition dubbed the NISA Independent Cup will also take place, comprising clubs across the United States.
March 20-28: FIFA men’s international fixture window
National teams across the globe will convene during this time, a period in which clubs must release their players for international duty. In North America, this will mainly feature Concacaf Nations League group play. Canada’s men’s national team will play at Curaçao on March 25 before hosting Honduras three days later in Group C of League A action, while the US men will visit Grenada on March 24 and host El Salvador three days later in Group D of League A.
March 21-23: 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup begins
The latest edition of the United States’ oldest ongoing national soccer competition kicks off in earnest with First Round action, featuring a mix of amateur, pro-am and lower-tier professional sides, some of whom have already survived qualifying matches to reach this point. Most MLS clubs will enter in the Third Round in April, offering the David-vs.-Goliath meetings with lower-division sides that so often produce the “Cupsets” fans of all walks enjoy. The Open Cup dates back to 1914 and is one of the oldest soccer competitions in the world. Orlando City SC are defending champions. Tourney winners earn a six-figure financial prize, a berth in the following year’s Concacaf Champions League and their name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy.
March 16: 73rd FIFA Congress meeting | Kigali, Rwanda
This grand conclave of the leaders of world soccer’s governing body usually features a full slate of funding and policy deliberations. This edition features a presidential election, with incumbent Gianni Infantino set to cruise to re-election unopposed.
April dates TBA: USL League One season begins
The third-tier pro league kicks off its fifth campaign with 12 member teams, each playing a 32-game regular season, expanded by two matches for 2023. New arrivals are Lexington SC and One Knoxville SC. The top six finishers will take part in the playoffs in the fall.
April dates TBA: Canadian Premier League begins
Canada’s pro league will kick off its fifth season this spring, with Forge FC (Hamilton) defending its 2022 championship. Other member clubs Atletico Ottawa, Cavalry FC (Calgary), HFX Wanderers (Halifax), Pacific FC (Langford, BC), Valour FC (Winnipeg), York United and new arrivals Vancouver FC, who take the spot of terminated side FC Edmonton. Of note, both the 2023 CPL playoff champions and regular-season champions will earn berths in the newly-expanded 2024 Concacaf Champions League.
April 4-6 and 11-13: Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals
“CCL Fever” intensifies as the eight survivors of the Round of 16 contest two-legged, home-and-away ties at locales across North America.
Apr. 25-27 and May 2-4: Concacaf Champions League Semifinals
CCL continues with the final four survivors vying for a place in the tournament finals. April, May dates TBA: MLS teams enter U.S. Open Cup traditionally, MLS clubs enter this storied domestic competition in the middle of spring. It follows a single-elimination format, though comes with a CCL berth at the end.
May 13-20: Rivalry Week
This celebration of MLS’s most heated matchups includes Cascadia Cup action, the Cali Clasico, the Canadian Classique between CF Montréal vs. Toronto FC, New York's Hudson River Derby, Texas Derby and Copa Tejas, the “Hell is Real” duel between Columbus and Cincinnati and more, including an FS1 national-television broadcast of the inaugural edition of the league’s newest regional showdown, the cross-Missouri clash of St. Louis City vs. Sporting Kansas City.
May 20-June 11: 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup | Indonesia
With a dominant display at the 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship, the US earned berths in both the 2024 Olympic Games and the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Head coach Mikey Varas leaned heavily on MLS-based players – including four Philadelphia Union homegrowns and rising San Jose Earthquakes star Cade Cowell – during the team's successful jaunt in Honduras and is expected to repeat the same formula as the U-20s look to improve on their quarterfinal finish from four years ago at Poland 2019.
May 31 and June 4: Concacaf Champions League Final
The top club honor in North America will be decided via a two-legged, home-and-away tie. Will another MLS team match Seattle’s ‘21 breakthrough, or will someone from Liga MX wrestle the honor back? Or perhaps a dark horse from elsewhere in the region will surprise?
June 10: UEFA Champions League Final | Istanbul
One of the biggest games in the world every year and the summit of European club soccer, this time hosted at Atatürk Olympic Stadium, a Turkish venue rich with soccer history that is currently the home of local club Fatih Karagümrük.
Summer, dates TBA: 2023 Canadian Championship begins
Every year Canada’s pro and top semi-pro teams compete in this riveting tournament for possession of the Voyageurs Cup, national bragging rights and a CCL berth. Vancouver Whitecaps FC are the current holders.
June 12-20: FIFA men’s international fixture window
National teams around the world will gather for the first fixture dates of the Northern Hemisphere summer to play up to two matches. In North America, Gold Cup participants usually use this period for preparatory camps and warm-up matches.
June 16-July 16: 2023 AFC Asian Cup | Qatar
With hosting rights shifted from China due to COVID-19 policies, the 18th edition of Asia’s quadrennial international men's championship will take place in the Gulf State that just hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup – and Qatar also happen to be the tournament’s defending champs. Twenty-four teams from across the world’s largest confederation will vie for top honors at the event. Recent reports suggest the tournament will be moved to January 2024, since Qatar cannot simultaneously host the Asian Cup and participate in the Concacaf Gold Cup (see below).
June 24-July 16: 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Various US venues
Canada, the United States, guest team Qatar, already-qualified sides El Salvador, Jamaica and Panama and 10 other Concacaf men’s national teams will gather in the United States to compete for the region’s international championship, a title that's currently held by the USMNT. Twelve Caribbean and Central American sides will convene in the US the previous week for the preliminary qualifying process to determine who earns the final four slots in the main event. The Gold Cup draw is set for April 13. A litany of MLS-based players usually star for their respective national teams at this event.
July 19: 2023 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target | Washington, D.C.
This year MLS’s midseason exhibition showcase and its many surrounding events take place at Audi Field, D.C. United’s home in the heart of the U.S. capital city. The opponent is yet to be announced.
July 20-Aug. 20: 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup | Australia and New Zealand
The biggest event in women’s world soccer kicks off with New Zealand vs. Norway at Eden Park, Auckland, the first of 64 matches at six stadiums in five cities across Australia, and four stadiums in four cities in New Zealand. This year marks the quadrennial tournament’s new expansion to 32 participating teams, competing in eight four-team groups with the top two finishers in each group advancing to a 16-team knockout phase. The top-ranked United States are the back-to-back defending champions, having hoisted the trophy in 2015 and 2019, two of their world-leading four titles. They'll be based in New Zealand during their Group E slate, while Canada will play in Melbourne and Perth during their Group B schedule.
July 21-Aug. 19: Leagues Cup
All of MLS and Liga MX – 47 clubs in all – will take part in this newly and dramatically enlarged version of the event, with both leagues pausing their domestic regular seasons for a month. Thirty-two teams will advance to the knockout phase from a group stage marked by three-team groups, with group-stage byes for the respective league champions; full schedules are to be released in the coming months. The single-elimination knockout rounds will lead up to a grand final on Aug. 19, with the top three finishers earning berths in the expanded 2024 CCL. Club Leon are defending champions, having defeated the Seattle Sounders in the 2021 Leagues Cup final before the tournament shifted to an exhibition format due to fixture congestion last year.
August/September, details TBA: 2023 Campeones Cup
This year’s Supercup-style clash between the champions of MLS and Liga MX’s Campeon de Campeones will feature LAFC vs. the winner of the annual meeting between the fall (Pachuca claimed the 2022 Apertura title) and spring season champs of the Mexican top-flight.
Sept. 27: 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final
The decisive match for the United States’ oldest and most beloved cup competition.
Sept. 4-12: FIFA men’s international fixture window
National teams may gather full-strength squads to play as many as two matches during this period.
Oct. 9-17: FIFA men’s international fixture window
National teams may gather full-strength squads to play as many as two matches during this period.
Oct. 21: Decision Day
The MLS regular season concludes in dramatic fashion with synchronized kickoffs of games across the Eastern and Western Conferences, with final places in the standings and the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on the line.
October/November dates TBA: Audi MLS Cup Playoffs
The final sprint to MLS Cup. Format and schedule to be announced in the months to come.
October/November dates TBA: 2023 NWSL playoffs
The NWSL season concludes with its top six finishers vying for the league title, currently held by the Portland Thorns. The championship game will take place on Nov. 11 at a predetermined site yet to be announced.
Nov. 10-Dec. 2: 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup | Peru
Many of the planet’s brightest young talents gather around six stadiums in six host cities across Peru to determine the latest FIFA Under-17 world champions. It’s the first edition of this event in four years, with COVID-19 having forced the cancellation of the 2021 tournament. Participants will learn schedules and opponents in the coming months; Brazil are defending champions.
Nov. 13-21: FIFA men’s international fixture window
National teams may gather full-strength squads to play as many as two matches during this period. Mid-
November dates TBA: NCAA Division I tournament selection shows
College soccer’s version of March Madness, the NCAA tournaments unfold in autumn after the regular season and conference tournaments, with the men’s version generally a week behind the women’s. The respective fields – 48 teams on the men’s side, 64 on the women’s, and a mixture of automatic and at-large berths – are announced on these dates, one day after the conclusion of the regular season, charting the path to the College Cup. Date TBA: 2023 MLS Cup Site TBD The league’s new champions will be crowned unless holders LAFC claim the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy again. The match will be held at the home ground of the finalist with the superior regular-season points total.
December dates TBA: 2023 Men’s and Women’s College Cup | Cary, N.C. (women’s) and Louisville, Ky. (men’s)
The NCAA soccer season reaches its crescendo as the Division I men’s and women’s tournaments’ final four on each side will gather on separate weekends to decide who will be crowned D1 national champions. The women will play at WakeMed Soccer Park, home of North Carolina FC and the North Carolina Courage, while the men will play at Lynn Family Stadium, home of Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC. Syracuse are defending men’s champs and UCLA are defending women’s champs.