Why Soccer Is Flourishing In The USA

Posted: November 10, 2015 in Football, MLS, Opinion, USA
Tags: , ,


Soccer really took off in America in 1989 when Paul Caligiuri scored what became known as the ‘billion dollar goal’ to beat  Trinidad 1-0 and qualify for the 1990 World Cup. There is a particularly good article in the Guardian, which can be found here.

In fact, the game has been around in America since about 1884. This may come as a surprise to some, but it shouldn’t do. When you think of the ethnicity of the USA, the only real surprise should be that it has taken this long to gain in popularity.

In a country made up of European immigrants in their thousands, from Italy to Ireland, from Spain to Scotland, along with all the Central and South American people who have made the United States their home, it really is a major surprise that soccer hasn’t been the main sport for years and years.

Until Soccer was truly accepted in the States, the American people didn’t really have a national team to cheer. Their two most popular sports, football and baseball, whilst also growing in popularity around the world will never be as truly global as soccer is and are unlikely to provide a national team in the near future.

Cheering on the Ryder Cup team every couple of years is a taster. It brings people together as patriots and gives them the opportunity to “fly the flag” and “bang the drum” for a short period of time. Similarly, the Olympics allows for the same but is much more spread out and difficult to follow, hence the tendency is for smaller groups of people to watch different events.

Soccer allows fans of the different clubs to focus on their team for the season, generating, (hopefully), a healthy rivalry between the cities. Then it allows them to forget those rivalries and become Americans and get behind the national team in worldwide competition. In this respect alone, the sport is unique, even in America.

The reason that soccer will work in the USA is because, to a great extent, it already is doing. Now more than ever, there are people who want it to work. The city’s football or baseball team is no longer fearful of the potential crowd stealing aspect of the game. It is no longer suspicious of the motives of a soccer team. Soccer is there to exist as a stand-alone sport without impacting on the other national treasures.

Apart from any teams who are currently using a football ground until their own soccer stadium is built, soccer has no dependence on the other sports. This short term aspect of the game is exactly that – short term, and will change very soon.

There may come a time when soccer is the main sport in the USA but this is certainly a long way off at present. When you consider that it has taken roughly one hundred and thirty years to get this far, it is not quite ready to take over yet.

One thing holding back soccer in America is the class system. Soccer is still seen as a middle and upper class game with monied people paying for their offspring to join private teams, as soccer has not yet replaced football in the schools.

As with many many sports, once it is opened up to the whole of society, then we will see the true potential. How many American Messi’s, Ronaldo’s, Neymar’s and Suarez’s are there, just waiting to be given the opportunity that, at the moment, their parents can’t afford to give them?

At some stage, America will make the game available to everyone in their society. When they do, that’s when the rest of the world had better watch out.

In conclusion, here’s a picture of the 1930 USA team, courtesy of reidldavis, who sent it to me in a reply to a previous post and here’s the post.

  1. Great work. A really insightful article!


  2. yabai says:

    soccer is the most boring sport ever made. it’s un-American, and the only people in the U.S. that like it are white, hipster douchebag millenials who don’t watch any other sport. it has no future in the U.S. because it’s never had a future in the U.S., plus americans like watching REAL sports like football, basketball, baseball, hockey, NASCAR, the olympics…pretty much anything but soccer, which is the butt of all jokes here in the States. soccer blows, and if you like soccer, you’re nothing but a wannabe eurotrash loser.


    • Kevin says:

      – Calls soccer boring and not a “real” sport
      – Uses NASCAR as an example of a “real” sport

      What more can I say?


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