Will soccer ever be popular in the US? This is a question that has been asked for quite some time now. The answer is Yes, soccer has been making a steady rise in popularity and recognition in the US, especially over the last few years.
In this article, we will share some facts and figures about how popular soccer was popular, how popular it is these days and what’s the future of soccer in the US. So hold on tight and let’s go through it together. Firstly let’s talk about the history of soccer in the US.
History of soccer in the US
Soccer in the United States has a long and storied history from 1607 when a group of English settlers arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, and began playing the sport. Historians believe that as more colonists made their way to America, the game of soccer spread throughout the colonies and eventually became a popular pastime.
In 1827, the first and second-year classes at Harvard instituted an annual intramural soccer contest titled “Bloody Monday” that was played on the first Monday of the new school year. This was the first evidence of organized soccer in the US.
In 1862, Oneida Soccer Club was formed in Boston, introducing the country to a more organized form of soccer. Oneida is credited with being the first soccer club to feature a regular roster of players and thus, opening the door for more serious play.
The prominent colleges and universities in the Northeast began to take soccer seriously. In 1869, The first intercollegiate game was played between Rutgers and Princeton. In this game, the teams were also allowed to use hands, which made it more like modern-day rugby.
Another rule for winning a match was that the team had to score six points. So this was not only the first intercollegiate game, but also the first soccer game. After that, the fall of soccer began in the US due to the advent of American Football and rugby.
The Fall of Soccer in the US
There are so many reasons why soccer didn’t gain that much popularity in the United States. Everything was going well for soccer it was slowly gaining popularity until 1863. In the year 1863 Rugby started to gain traction, which resulted in soccer being pushed to the sidelines.
Many believe this is one of the main reasons, a book written by Thomas Hughes called Tom Brown at Rugby. This book started to become more and more popular among Americans and was seen as a symbol of pride.
Now you may be wondering, what was so special about this book and why did it receive so much attention? and how did it shape the sports landscape in the US?
The answer lies in the fact that it was based on true events that took place at Rugby School in England. Through this book, Hughes was able to show the American public how unique and exciting rugby can be.
This book quickly became a symbol of pride in America and encouraged people to play rugby or American football instead of focusing on soccer.
Moreover, he also highlighted the important lessons that can be learned from playing such sports. This made Americans focus more on rugby and American football rather than soccer or other sports. If this book was not popular, maybe soccer might have been popular in the US as it is in other countries.
The popularity of soccer in the US in the 1900s
The 19th century was a good century for soccer in the United States. In 1904 FIFA was founded, and Soccer had become an official sport in the Olympics. In the same year, the Olympics was taking place in St. Louis the United States.
Due to the hype created by the Olympics, initially, soccer started to gain some recognition in the US, however, it didn’t manage to take off as a popular sport.
In the 1904s, the US was left out because there were no proper structures of soccer in the US. Then come 1913, the year when FIFA accepted the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) as the governing body of soccer in the United States.
In 1921, the first professional soccer league was formed the US American Soccer League, this league became successful and many other leagues were formed in the US in the following years. In 1930, the United States national soccer team participated in the first world cup, unfortunately, the team was knocked out of the world cup.
Despite having a weak background and team, many experts said that were surprised by the performance of the US soccer team. With this, more people started to show interest in soccer. In World Cup 1950 they defeated the tournament’s favorite England team, which made Americans respect and appreciate soccer.
Many people still thought that soccer is not a sport that Americans would like to play. But, in the 1984 Summer Olympics, it all changed when the data showed soccer was the top-attended sport in that Olympics. This made everyone realize that soccer is a sport that Americans enjoy playing and watching.
1991 was a game-changer year for soccer in the United States. This was US women’s soccer team’s first World Cup. After this win, the popularity of soccer in the US started to increase rapidly.
FIFA saw the potential of the sport in the US, and they gave the permission to hold the world cup in the United States on the condition that the country will make a first-division professional soccer league.
The 1994 FIFA world cup was a game-changer for American soccer. The tournament was the most successful FIFA world cup ever and generated a lot of excitement about the sport in the US. In 1999, the Women’s world cup was held in the US, and this event boosted the popularity of soccer even further.
The popularity of soccer in the US in the 2000s
The 2000s was a time of fast growth for soccer. The MLS (Major League Soccer) was established are they started signing big players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry to promote the game in the country. Also, the US national team started to perform well in the world cup events.
In 2004, a survey was held to ask Americans if they consider themselves soccer fans and the results were not very encouraging but it was still good as soccer had started to get some recognition. only 2% of Americans said considered soccer as their favorite sport.
Fast forward to 2022, and these numbers will blow your mind. According to surveys, around 18% of Americans now consider soccer as their favorite sport. This number shows that soccer has gained a lot of traction in the US in the last couple of years, and it has the potential to be one of the most popular sports in the US.
Future of soccer in the US
FIFA decided that some of the fixtures of the 2026 world cup will be held in the US. This move has ensured that soccer will become even more popular in the US as it will be seen by millions of Americans daily on their TV screens. This will surely increase the craze for soccer in the US, and it could potentially overtake American Football as the favorite sport of Americans in the future.
Additionally, the presence of professional soccer teams in the US like LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders has also been instrumental in popularizing soccer in the US. MLS is also into signing big stars to make the sport attractive to American fans, and this could lead to increased interest in soccer.
The US already has some great talented players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, etc, who have been playing at the highest level in Europe. The board is also spending some money to hire top coaches and sports scientists to help develop American talent, which could potentially lead to great results in the near future.
Talking about the statistics, the statistics are also looking amazing and show that soccer is rapidly gaining in popularity in the US. Let me share some latest statistics for the context, the attendance of MLS grew up to 25% as compared to the last season which is huge. In 2019 participation in soccer in high schools increased by 32 percent as compared to 2002.
Not only that, but soccer is also becoming a mainstream sport for Americans. From 2012 and 2019, the viewership of soccer in the United States increased by an impressive 53% according to a survey.
All these astonishing figures show how fans are embracing soccer with open arms. And those are not very far when soccer will be one of the most if not the most popular sport in the US.
Will soccer ever be popular in the US for women?
US women’s soccer team has already made remarkable progress on the international stage. They have won 4 world cups and gold medals at the Olympics which makes them one of the most successful teams in the world.
The young female players already have examples like Alex Morgan and Mallory Swanson who have become role models for them. And as the trend of watching soccer increases in the US, it is evident that more women are also interested in playing and watching the game.
Overall, with the help of popular female players, the growing trend of soccer in the US, and the increasing popularity of American women’s soccer teams, it is quite possible that soccer could become a very popular sport in the US for women.
Despite being overshadowed by American Football, Soccer is gradually gaining popularity and this trend looks to be continuing in the future.
Why is soccer not as popular in the US?
One of the main reasons why soccer is popular in the US is soccer is not in American culture. The cultural game of the US are American football, basketball, and baseball and they have been playing these games for centuries, while soccer is a traditional game in Europe that’s the reason why it’s so popular there.
Will soccer overtake NFL?
Although soccer has the potential to become one of the most popular sports in the US, it’s highly unlikely that soccer will ever overtake NFL. Football is deeply rooted in American culture and it has been the most popular sport for generations.
Is FIFA popular in the USA?
FIFA is popular in the US, but not as much as it is in Europe. The US has its own professional soccer leagues such as Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). There is a growing fan base for these leagues in the US, but the attendance and viewership remain much lower than that of American football.
Is America getting better at soccer?
Yes, America is getting better at soccer. The US men’s national team (USMNT) already has some of the top players in the world, including Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent. The US Women’s national team (USWNT) is one of the most successful teams in international soccer.
Will soccer become a mainstream sport in the United States?
Yes, will become a mainstream sport in the United States, it may take some time before it reaches the same level of popularity as American football. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in attendance and viewership for soccer games, in the United States.
Do people play FIFA games in the US?
Yes, the FIFA game is very popular in the United States. FIFA games have become one of the most played video games in recent years, and many American gamers are increasingly choosing this game. This has also led to the rise in popularity of soccer.
While soccer is still not as popular in the US as American football, there are signs of progress. Professional leagues, increased investment from US Soccer, and the success of the USMNT and USWNT are all signs that soccer is on the rise in America.
Whether or not it will ever become as popular as American football remains to be seen, but it is clear that soccer is slowly becoming more popular in the US and one day could be a major contender for the hearts and minds of American sports fans.
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