Here are the trends and defining people that we see grabbing the headlines in the year ahead.
In soccer terms, the year 2019 will be about the women’s World Cup, a new-look USMNT, continental tournaments in North America, South America and Africa, and the usual attention magnets in the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League. Here are the trends and defining people that we see grabbing the headlines in the year ahead.
The U.S. centerforward is already the most popular player in American soccer, but even though she won the World Cup in 2015, Morgan scored just one goal in that tournament. Morgan had 18 goals in 19 games in 2018 and will likely be a force at France 2019.
For years, the goalkeeper position was viewed as one of the few areas where Brazil didn’t produce true world-class players. But that has changed with the rise of Alisson Becker at Liverpool and Ederson at Manchester City, who may well be the two best GKs on the planet in 2019. It’s unfortunate that one of them will have to be on the bench at the Copa América.
The U.S. winger will shatter the previous record for a transfer fee by an American when he’s sold by Borussia Dortmund to a Premier League team in the summer of 2019.
Women’s national teams challenging their federations
More and more often, we’re seeing women’s teams call out their male-dominated federations for not doing nearly enough to invest in the growth of the women’s game. That trend will continue in 2019, particularly in countries where women’s soccer is just getting off the ground.
The new USMNT coach will have to hit the ground running to get his team ready for the Gold Cup, but Berhalter will be received well by his players as a coach with a specific plan to succeed on the field and restore pride to the U.S. men’s national team.
The Australian forward is a scoring machine in the NWSL and is perennially overlooked when annual awards come calling. But Australia is a real threat to go deep at World Cup 2019, which means the world won’t be able to ignore Kerr much longer.
When Manchester City wins the UEFA Champions League and Brazil triumphs at the Copa América, it will be Jesus who has a role in some of the biggest moments of 2019 for club and country.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney
So much for aging European stars struggling in MLS. Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) and Rooney (D.C. United) were fantastic in less-than-full seasons in 2018, and it says here they’ll do it again over a full 34-game schedule in 2019.
Liverpool will win its first English league title since 1989-90, edging out Man City in a memorable title race, and the biggest reason will be Salah, who will show that he can back up his big scoring numbers from last season.
Even though City will finish second to Liverpool in the league, winning the UEFA Champions League will make up for it for Guardiola and a team that plays a gorgeous brand of soccer.