2023-24 preseason, summer schedule: Women’s World Cup, Wrexham, Premier League U.S. tour and more

The Champions League final signalled the end of the 2022-23 soccer season for the major leagues in Europe. And while that ended on a sour note for Oasis fans learning, once again, to not trust anything Liam Gallagher says, it’s difficult to say the thrills and spills of the season weren’t exciting, from Manchester City’s treble to final-day Bundesliga drama and everything in between.

And that means the game stops — sort of. There are still international competitions taking place, major clubs need to get in their annual preseason excursions to far-flung corners of the world, and a few leagues keep chugging through the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months, including MLS, where Inter Miami are set to sign one the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Whether you’re a club super-fan willing to subject yourself to bizarre international kick-off times and matches filled with academy stand-ins, or you just can’t get enough soccer in your life no matter the avenue, here is ESPN’s official guide to the summer preseason.

Slap on the sunscreen and plop a little umbrella in that drink, there’s soccer to watch.

We know it’s only been a few months since the men’s World Cup in late-2022, but there’s another World Cup happening this summer that deserves your attention. The Women’s World Cup hits Australia and New Zealand beginning on July 20, and while the USWNT are defending champions from both 2019 and 2015, this looks like as good of an opportunity as ever for another country to take their crown after some underwhelming results for head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s side.

– Women’s World Cup bracket and fixtures schedule

Here are some games to look out for in the group stage, which U.S. viewers can catch on FOX:

– July 20, Australia vs. Republic of Ireland: The hosts begin their World Cup with a strong opponent in Ireland. Australia are as good a team as any, as evidenced by beating England 2-0 in April, and the home crowd is sure to be raucous.
– July 26, USWNT vs. Netherlands: This will be the first real test for the U.S. at the World Cup. If they pass it, it could be a sign that early concerns about the squad are overblown.
– July 29, France vs. Brazil: It’s a match-up of titans, and two teams that can always produce fireworks on the field.
– July 31, Canada vs. Australia: In what should be Canada’s toughest match of the group stage, both teams will be gunning for the first place spot in Group B.
– Aug. 1, USWNT vs. Portugal: It’s the decider for Group E, and if the USWNT don’t get a result against the Netherlands, they could find themselves in must-win territory.
– Whenever Bunny Shaw is playing: Jamaica have a tough group with Brazil and France present. But Khadija “Bunny” Shaw is one of the game’s most exciting strikers at the moment, having just set Manchester City Women’s record for most goals in a season, and she could lead Jamaica to an upset or two on her own.

The Concacaf Nations League semifinals are upon us, and while the tournament series is still in its infancy, the first installment in 2019-20 was not lacking for passion or exciting games. The U.S. and Mexico will renew their rivalry once again, while the upstart Canada side that stormed through World Cup qualifying will take on Panama. All games will be held in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, and viewers can catch the games on CBS or Paramount+.

– June 15: Canada vs. Panama
– June 15: USA vs. Mexico
– June 18: 3rd place match
– June 18: Final

Hope you don’t get tired of Concacaf competition, because there’s another one! The difference: this one purports to crown the best team in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean (the Gold Cup involves the top teams from Concacaf along with invitees Qatar), and it doesn’t lack for storylines.

Take, for example, the historic performance of Florent Malouda at the 2017 Gold Cup, where French Guiana ignored a FIFA ruling that said they would forfeit all of their matches if Malouda played because he was only eligible to represent France, and they went and played him anyway. Or Nicaragua, who just got themselves kicked out of this year’s Gold Cup for playing an ineligible player, with Trinidad & Tobago taking their spot.

The fun begins with the USMNT defending their Gold Cup title against Jamaica at Soldier Field, then group stage games followed by the final on July 16. The Gold Cup will be broadcast in the United States on FS1 and FS2.

– June 24: USMNT vs. Jamaica, Soldier Field (Chicago)
– June 25: Mexico vs. Honduras, NRG Stadium (Houston)
– July 2: USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago, Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)
– July 2: Mexico vs. Qatar, Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)

Tired of hearing about Wrexham? Too bad, because they’re coming to the United States for what will surely be the most visible preseason tour of a League Two club in history. There are a couple of big marquee match-ups with Manchester United and Chelsea, of course.

But there are also tilts with LA Galaxy II and Philadelphia Union II, where we’ll finally get an answer to the question “Are Wrexham better than a couple of MLS second teams?”

Unfortunately, there’s still no word on how many of the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” cast co-owner Rob McElhenney will be able to drag out to the final fixture of the tour.

– July 19: Wrexham AFC vs. Chelsea, Kenan Memorial Stadium (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
– July 22: Wrexham AFC vs. LA Galaxy II, Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)
– July 25: Wrexham AFC vs. Manchester United, Snapdragon Stadium (San Diego)
– July 28: Wrexham AFC vs. Philadelphia Union II, Subaru Park (Philadelphia)

It’s taxing work, winning all those trophies, and as such, City’s getting a bit of a later start than several other clubs in their preseason festivities. When they do get going, they’ll be touring Asia with stops in Japan and South Korea, and matchups against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid.

– July 23: Manchester City vs. Yokohama F. Marinos, Japan National Stadium (Tokyo)
– July 26: Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich, Japan National Stadium (Tokyo)
– July 30: Manchester City vs. Atletico Madrid, Seoul World Cup Stadium (Seoul)

Liverpool have fewer fixtures on the docket so far than most, perhaps opting for a less busy preseason in order to get down to brass tacks after a disappointing 2022-23 season. They’ll be traveling east for the fixtures they do have scheduled, going to Singapore for two games against sides with decidedly different trajectories.

– July 30: Liverpool vs. Leicester City, National Stadium (Singapore)
– August 2: Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich, National Stadium (Singapore)

Well, there’s certainly a mess to clean up here, isn’t there? Chelsea will spend the preseason in the land of the free, home of the Boehly, and will undoubtedly be trying to figure out how to finish higher than 12th in the Premier League next season with no European competition to worry about. Like Man United, they’ll also be getting a Wrexham fixture in before moving on to some more familiar foes.

– July 19: Chelsea vs. Wrexham, Kenan Stadium (Chapel Hill)
– July 22: Chelsea vs. Brighton & Hove Albion, Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
– July 26: Chelsea vs. Newcastle, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
– July 30: Chelsea vs. Fulham, FedEx Field (Maryland)
– August 2: Chelsea vs. Borussia Dortmund, Soldier Field (Chicago)

In one of the most far-flung travel schedules you’ll find here, Tottenham are making stops in Southeast Asia and Australia for their preseason tour. That Australia date should be an interesting one as well, as they take on an English team that’s won a trophy recently: newly minted Europa Conference League champions West Ham in a London derby down under.

– July 18: Tottenham vs. West Ham, Opus Stadium (Perth)
– July 23: Tottenham vs. Leicester City, Rajamangala Stadium (Bangkok)
– July 26: Tottenham vs. AS Roma, National Stadium (Singapore)

Arsenal will be taking their talents to the United States, where they’ll be the first European club in a few years to compete against the MLS All-Stars after the top U.S. league competed against Mexico’s Liga MX All-Stars in the last couple editions. The Gunners will play a Wayne Rooney-managed team in Washington, D.C. before moving on to some European rivals.

– July 19: Arsenal vs. MLS All-Stars, Audi Field (Washington, D.C.)
– July 22: Arsenal vs. Manchester United, MetLife Stadium (New York)
– July 26: Arsenal vs. Barcelona, SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles)

United are also taking a tour of the United States for their preseason trip, albeit prefaced with a brief trip to Scotland. And while there are several big European names they’re slated to play, the most interesting one will probably be Football Leaguers Wrexham. The contest probably won’t be as interesting as how many Hollywood stars make the trip down to San Diego, but that’s the magic of preseason.

– July 19: Manchester United vs. Lyon, BT Murrayfield (Edinburgh)
– July 22: Manchester United vs. Arsenal, MetLife Stadium (New York)
– July 25: Manchester United vs. Wrexham, Snapdragon Stadium (San Diego)
– July 26: Manchester United vs. Real Madrid, NRG Stadium (Houston)
– July 30: Manchester United vs. Borussia Dortmund, Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)

It truly is a party in the U.S., because Madrid are yet another of the big European clubs who will be spending time there. Like perpetual rivals Barcelona, Madrid will also be taking on a high level of competition throughout their summer fixtures, as they try once again to summon multi-trophy form. They are Real Madrid, after all. The Copa del Rey is great, but after a humbling 10-point deficit in the league and an even more embarrassing Champions League elimination against Manchester City, losing 4-0 at the Etihad, the Galacticos will want to start next season on the right foot.

– July 23: Real Madrid vs. AC Milan, Rose Bowl (Los Angeles)
– July 26: Real Madrid vs. Manchester United, NRG Stadium (Houston)
– July 29: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, AT&T Stadium (Arlington)
– August 2: Real Madrid vs. Juventus, Camping World Stadium (Orlando)

Yeah, they missed out on Messi. So bad that they released a club statement about a player who was not signed to their club because he signed for a different club, and came away from it sounding like a jilted lover.

But hey! We’re talking about the LaLiga champions here, and they’ll set about starting to defend that title in the U.S., where they’ll compete against a who’s who of big European names. There’s still no word on which economic lever “Xavi bubble-wrapping Pedri before allowing him to leave his Las Vegas hotel” is, but we’re sure they’ll figure it out.

– July 22: Barcelona vs. Juventus, Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)
– July 26: Barcelona vs. Arsenal, SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles)
– July 29: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, AT&T Stadium (Arlington)
– August 1: Barcelona vs. AC Milan, Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)

Atletico have one of the most interesting travel schedules of any bigger European side, from South Korea to Mexico and finally winding up in the U.S. They’ve also got an immediately interesting matchup to kick off the preseason on the most difficult note possible: champions of Europe and probably the universe, Man City.

– July 30: Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester City, Seoul World Cup Stadium (Seoul)
– August 3: Atletico Madrid vs. Real Sociedad, Estadio BBVA (Monterrey)
– August 6: Atletico Madrid vs. Sevilla, Oracle Park (San Francisco)

Thomas Tuchel and Bayern Munich did just about everything they could to throw away the Bundesliga, but that depended on Dortmund doing something that only benefitted Dortmund. Hence, Bayern are still champions, and they’ll take that crown to Japan and Singapore for some warmup games, notably opening against some familiar faces in Pep Guardiola-led Man City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

– July 26: Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City, Japan National Stadium (Tokyo)
– July 29: Bayern Munich vs. Kawasaki Frontale, Japan National Stadium (Tokyo)
– August 2: Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool, National Stadium (Singapore)

Yes, Borussia Dortmund do have the nerve to go on a preseason tour after what they did to their fans and themselves on the final day of the Bundesliga season. To toss away what would’ve been their first Meisterschale in a decade in such fashion should be cause for much soul searching in the yellow-and-black. They’ll begin against USL side San Diego Loyal before moving on to European foes in the forms of Man United and Chelsea.

– July 27: Borussia Dortmund vs. San Diego Loyal, Snapdragon Stadium (San Diego)
– July 30: Borussia Dortmund vs. Manchester United, Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
– August 2: Borussia Dortmund vs. Chelsea, Soldier Field (Chicago)

Milan will be in the United States playing the best of the best for the Summer Champions Tour, of which Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus, Arsenal and Man United are also a part of. They’ll have a decidedly West Coast lean to their stay, taking on two games in Los Angeles and finishing up in Las Vegas against Barcelona.

– July 23: AC Milan vs. Real Madrid, Rose Bowl (Los Angeles)
– July 27: AC Milan vs. Juventus, Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)
– August 1: AC Milan vs. Barcelona, Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)

Juve will come off a troubled Serie A season by taking on multiple teams they won’t have the opportunity to play against any time else next year, considering they only managed to qualify for the Europa Conference League. They’ll also get a tilt against Milan as the team retools and regears for hopefully a better season than the last.

– July 22: Juventus vs. Barcelona, Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)
– July 27: Juventus vs. AC Milan, Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles)
– August 2: Juventus vs. Real Madrid, Camping World Stadium (Orlando)

– July 25, PSG vs. Al Nassr: The French giants will travel to Japan this summer, where they’ll meet Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr. Knowing how big a draw Ronaldo probably is here, it seems like a good bet he’ll get game time against a premier opponent. The match takes place in Osaka.

– July 21, Inter Miami vs. Cruz Azul: Normally a Leagues Cup match isn’t appointment viewing, but reporting from The Athletic indicates that this might be the match where Messi makes his debut for Inter Miami. If so, this is suddenly the most important club match in North America. U.S. viewers will be able to catch the match on Apple TV.

– August 6, Manchester City vs. Arsenal, Community Shield: It’s the alarm bell by which we can tell the Premier League is coming back imminently, and this one should give everyone a good idea if Arsenal’s breakout season in 2022-23 was sustainable, or if the club settles lower on the table again.

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