In the last 3 years the United States has seen amazing growth in the interest of soccer. From growing popularity in Major League Soccer (MLS) since the drama with the arrival of David Beckham to the amazement and belief when the US National Team made it to the FIFA Confederations Cup final in South Africa, the US is on its way from being a Football nation, to a Fútbol nation.
A country that is known for hot dogs at the ballpark (ballpark is one word) and tailgating before the football game, soccer is slowly but surely growing in popularity in the US. Every kid in the US plays AYSO soccer, yet when it comes to the professional side of the sport it seems to dwindle. I feel these days are coming to an end and that baseball and football will no longer be the dominating sports in the US. I foresee huge growth with this sport in every aspect in the US. Kids will not stop playing soccer after high school and the “crop” of good soccer players in the States will increase tremendously. With the way MLS is expanding and how great the US National Team is playing, the diehard fans will follow, the occasional fans will become permanent fans, and the newbies will learn to love the game. If the US National team can continue to perform the way they did this past summer in South Africa, our country will be put on the global map when it comes to great soccer nations. Just recently the US National team has qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and will be competing for top honor against teams such as Spain and Brazil. The US has a relatively young team, which is a very good thing to have especially if the team is actually showing potential for competing against some of the top teams in the World. New players such as Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies have really made a name for themselves for the great show they put on for their fans. These players potentially hold the future of US Soccer on their shoulders and I feel that they are both ready for it. The team also has players who have been around for years such as Landon Donovan. Donovan, who will one day be considered the greatest US Soccer player ever, if not already, has really shown what a diverse player he is and has helped move the US National Team from a group that could barely compete against lower level teams to one of the top national teams in the world. With great players like these I can only dream of what is next to come.
The US Soccer Federation is working to bring the World Cup to the US in either 2018 or 2022 with help from people such as Drew Carey and Henry Kissinger. (You can check out the journey to bring the World Cup to the States here at http://www.gousabid.com/ ). If the US Bid Committee can get the World Cup to come to the US, it would mean so much to the sport for growth here. Now that the MLS and the US National Team is starting to show some impact on a global level, outside investors will definitely want to put their money into the biggest sports event in the world.
Today, more and more big name players are leaving the European leagues and coming to play in the United States. Players like Juan Pablo Angel and David Beckham have made the move from European leagues, to play in the MLS, which has definitely helped sell tickets, but hasn’t helped the level of play on the field. Last year Beckham’s team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, finished in last place and this season the New York Red Bulls, where Juan Pablo Angel plays, will finish the season as one of the bottom teams as well. Although they are selling tickets, the MLS needs to prove that their league can compete against other leagues and not be known as the league that players retire to. Don Garber the commissioner of the MLS is making great advancements to improve the league by making small and slow steps. The league is expanding with a new team each year and soon to be two teams a year. There has also been a rumor about the league looking into changing the season to an August to May season like the European leagues. With these small steps the sport of Soccer will move from the misunderstood, non-popular sport in the US, to a sport competing with Baseball and Football.
Although the people in charge of the development of Soccer here in the states are doing a good job, I feel there is more to be done and some things to be changed. Major improvement is needed in media coverage. There is simply not enough. When one watches the 6 o'clock news, no one hears a sports update about Soccer. This year both ESPN and Fox Sports have taken the initiative to promote the sport by picking up coverage of the English Premier League and the Spanish league, La Liga. Other than that ESPN and Fox Sports minimal shows that are all about soccer which air during the day while everyone is at work. If more media coverage was put into place, growth of soccer in the states would flourish.
Over all I feel the future of soccer in the states can and will be great. I would have to give the promoters of the sport here in the states a B+. More can be done and things can be changed, but I know that the right steps will be made to make soccer a huge sport in the USA!
This review was written while news broke that Charlie Davies was involved in a terrible car accident. He survived but has undergone surgery. My heart and prayers go out to him.
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