All Of A Sudden, Soccer Is Blowing Up In America -- What Happened?

Submitted by: m3dm3d 1 month ago Sports


Last week, a couple minor announcements were made in the sphere of American soccer. The 2017 Gold cup's final is to be hosted in Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium, while 12 cities were official candidates to become one of the 4 new franchises in the MLS.

These two announcements may appear minor ones but are proof that Soccer is (finally) becoming a real deal in the USA.

The upcoming 2017 Gold Cup will be the 14th time (in its current format) that the best nations of North America compete against one each other to determine the continent's best nation. A total of 14 venues will host games through 9 different states (4 venues are in Texas and 3 are in California), proving a widespread interest for the game. 

In the early days of the Gold Cup, 16 years ago, only 2 or 3 cities used to hold games in a single edition. To ensure stadium filling, USA had to co-host 2 of the first 7 Gold Cups with Mexico, and before Foxborough got to see games in 2003, only three states (California, Texas, Florida), all with strong latinos population.

This the time when the MLS was at its lowest point, with the dissolution of both its Florida Franchises, the Miami Fusion and the Tampa Bay Mutiny leaving only 10 professional soccer clubs in the USA.

But in the past 15 years, soccer got diversified in the USA. 13 franchises have been created, 12 of them surviving, and only two (Houston Dynamo and Orlando City SC) were created in areas with a strong latino population, with convincing attendance results, moving the average attendance up from 13,700 in 2000 to 21,700 in 2016. Total gates also moved up, from 2.2 millions in 2002 to 7.4 millions in 2016.

This popularization of soccer outside its initial comfort zone was boosted by the excellent results of the US National team, which since 2002 won half the Gold Cups, only missing the final in 2003 (third) and 2015 (fourth); reaching the final of the Confederations Cup in 2009, or reaching the semi-finals (as a special host) during the 2016 Copa America. The women in the same period got 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze in the World cup, and 3 time gold in the Olympics, making sure soccer's audience could also reach female viewers.

Because after all, competing against others is what makes soccer interesting for Americans. Unlike Football (no other nation plays it) or Basketball (USA won 15 of the 18 Olympics tournament they played, for 2 silver and 1 bronze), Soccer gives American a unique chance to root for their nation in a sports event.

Next step is for a US-based MLS team to reach the final of the North American Champions League, a performance only Salt Lake City (in 2011) realized in the 21st century.
There are 25 comments:
Male 4,376
My town's soccer team, the Seattle Sounders FC, won the MLS Cup last year. It was freaking awesome!
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Male 4,376
Isn't "Footie" Australian Football (rugby with a few different rules)?
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Male 226
markust123 Footie is used as a slang term for football here in the UK too.
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Male 4,376
mrteatime Ah, didn't know that. Thanks.
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Male 209
It just looks like your migrants are starting to weigh in on your countries sport of choice.
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Male 163
and football is in decline....what happened 
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Male 19,981
theman01 Head injuries -- definitely long-term head injuries.

Also, the NFL is a scam -- we all know where that Breast Cancer Awareness money they raise with that "pink" merchandise goes to now
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Male 163
fancylad you can have them both ill stick to hockey...
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Male 439
theman01 Americans are getting smarter?  Well, that can't be the case.  We voted in Trump and the best competition we could come up with for that was Hillary.  
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Male 709
waldo863 If need be in the future and there's "voters remorse" please let the record show the choices weren't Hillary or Trump from the perspective of a republican they had 16 other choices of mostly officials who held elected positions, yet they chose someone who only re-re-registered as a republican in 2012, which shouldn't mean much in general but is baffling since some have shown themselves to be ultra-partisan.
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Male 439
I wouldn't call it "All of the sudden."  It's been slowly and steadily gaining traction over the past 20-30 years.
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Male 197
fancy: thanks for the editing ;)

more in-depth analysis from third parties: The Huff Post, Umbel and DynamoTheory
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Male 19,981
m3dm3d It was a great submission!
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Male 3,164
Futbol!
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Male 5,049
 US National team  in World Cup was a really pleasant surprise. I enjoied a lot the US National team matches, if your national squad keep the good work you can point at higer results.
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Male 197
piperfawn Yes, the results of the US national teams the past 15 years are the main inspiration for more kids to play soccer in little town clubs, hence making sure the quality of the national team improves. Nowadays, there are as many kids playing soccer as there are kids playing basketball. Way more than baseball, football, ice hockey and lacrosse.
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Male 7,506
Soccer is becoming popular again? Let me recheck it out.  

*five minutes later*   Nope, still boring as shit.
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Male 19,981
megrendel You have to admire the fact that gameplay has no commercials. The match is decided on the pitch -- 90 minutes and a few minutes of stoppage play at the end. It's an endurance game.

Football is decided with timeouts that drags a game three-times longer than it should be.
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Male 196
megrendel 
Boring to you, not to millions of kids playing it in the USA last 15 odd years. Time will pass and there will be more people in the States that find Baseball and American Football insufferable boring as the rest of the world do. 
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Male 19,981
srximus Also, no head injuries in soccer.
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Male 7,506
srximus My opinion is the only one I'm giving.
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Male 197
megrendel compared to ... ? :) Less and less people think like you in the USA. The most viewed soccer game in the USA these last few years:
  • 2012: USA-Japan (Women Olympics Final), with ~5M viewers
  • 2013: USA-Mexico (FIFA World Cup Qualifier), with ~7M viewers
  • 2014: Germany-Argentina (FIFA World Cup Final), with ~27M viewers, making it the most non-NFL viewed sporting event this year
  • 2015: USA-Japan (FIFA Womens World Cup Final), with ~27M viewers, making it the most non-football viewed sporting event this year
  • 2016: Chile-Argentina (Copa America Final), with ~10M viewers

And for the joy of the eyes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssWJcHYpRek
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Male 7,506
m3dm3d Doesn't matter how many people watch it. To me it's boring as shit.  Rather watch two mules fighting over a carrot.  (I wasn't presenting it as how everyone finds it, just how I find it.)
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Male 197
megrendel still, my question (compared to?) stands. Obviously, to you, more boring than two mules fighting over a turnip. And please don't say baseball because otherwise you'll have to explain me what is fun here
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Male 7,506
m3dm3d This is what I see whenever I see soccer on some random television.
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