Team America: The Rise Of Soccer In The USA
Brazil 2014. The grandest stage of them all, the World Cup, arrived in South America once again and the globe was on a buzz. Especially the United States of America where football (or soccer) is growing more and more across the country and the World Cup was a perfect opportunity for the game in the US to grow even more and to start to expand even more rapidly.
Four games at the World Cup in Brazil and the same in South Africa in 2010. They qualified for the round of 16 both times, qualifying top of the group ahead of England (the ‘apparent’ creators of football), in South Africa. They also qualified ahead of Portugal in Brazil, despite them having super human Cristiano Ronaldo who didn’t exactly perform. Second place in Brazil, behind champions Germany, is something to shout about and only narrowly getting beat against labelled ‘underdogs of the tournament’ Belgium (AET) is showing that USA is a growing football country.
It’s not only the national team which is proving to the world that the US is here to compete. The MLS is expanding and becoming more recognised than ever, especially after the last two World Cups. If you focus on the social side of the MLS for a second, at the start of the 2015 season, the talk on social media of the 20 teams involved was up 34% from 2014. This is hard evidence that more people and fans are becoming interested in the league. The league has now got a UK TV deal which features certain games, this shows that the US soccer front is becoming bigger and better than ever.
Focussing back onto the football, major players of Europe’s top leagues have moved there. Thierry Henry to New York Red Bulls, David Beckham to LA Galaxy, David Villa to newly formed New York City, Kaka to Orlando City and many more show the selling point the MLS has. Yes, some critics suggest that the MLS is the shore for washed up Premier League/Serie A/La Liga players but not everyone. Certainly not me, I think it’s brilliant. These players increase shirt sales, increase fan bases, get more fans involved into the game because they will want to emulate their heroes and it also is endorsement for the MLS’ image. They can boast these legends from other leagues as their own.
The atmosphere amongst the fans in the MLS is, just, wow. The only word I can describe it with. For a country that apparently only focusses on baseball or basketball, the atmosphere football fans provide in the States is phenomenal. Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers are just two from a whole bunch who have caused unbelievable scenes for the onlookers. The Timbers actually bring chainsaws and logs to a game to use an atmosphere raiser. Flares, chants, smoke bombs, drums and the fans own voices represent the club they support and are showing to the world’s football fans they aren’t here to be a messed with. The scene over in America is increasing and growing bigger and better than ever, hop on the journey or you’ll most certainly miss out.