The Casual Sports Fan's Guide to Soccer: The International Break

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If you are like us, something is missing in your life right now. There's a black hole that nothing can fill. It's the lack of Premier League football this weekend. After three weeks of matches, they suddenly disappeared. What happened?

The answer is the dreaded international break.

Soccer has two levels, so to speak: the club level and the international level. The Premier League consists of the 20 best clubs in England (and Wales). Many of the best players in the world play for these clubs.

The Premier League is the equivalent of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and so on. The players play for their professional clubs and get paid by their clubs.

But more so than maybe any other sport, the international level is a huge part of soccer. The best players in the world also play for their countries when international football is scheduled.

The biggest international sporting event is the World Cup. The World Cup is the product of FIFA, the organizing body of soccer on the global level. Before a World Cup can be played, countries have to play matches to qualify. I will have more on World Cup qualifying in an upcoming post.

In order to have those qualifying matches, FIFA mandates a certain number of breaks during the year. Every country's league (if they want to be recognized by FIFA) must take a break when FIFA says that international matches must take place.

And that brings us to this weekend. The only soccer being played this weekend is international soccer. That's why the United States went to St. Vincent this past Friday -- and why they have a big match this coming Tuesday against Trinidad & Tobago. That's why England just played Slovakia earlier today.

And that's why you will be missing Premier League football again in about a month -- during the second weekend of October. Make plans now to do something that will keep you from missing the Premier League too much.