Soccer Popularity Is Exploding In The U.S. Here’s Why

Published on March 28, 2019

Major League Soccer (MLS) has come a long way over the last decade. As “football” continues to dominate as the most popular sport in the world, soccer has been in a constant battle in the United States against sports such as American Football, baseball, and basketball.

But what is contributing to the major growth in popularity of soccer in the United States?

Expansion of the MLS

The MLS currently has 24 teams with FC Cincinnati becoming the 24th, there is also plans of adding Miami and Nashville in 2020.

Expanding the league will establish national presence and help to secure television rights that will aid in the growth.

FC Cincinnati (FCC) achieved over 30,000 ticket sales in their first-ever MLS home game at Nippert Stadium. Following their first game, FCC  announced that the next game is going to be sold out as well.

Courtesy of Alex Stec/FC Cincinnati

FCC is also on the break of MLS history, as they’ve started the season with seven points from their first four games against some of the toughest opponents in the league.

Television Viewership

There is an abundance of options to watch soccer from around the world, not just the MLS but international game and leagues as well.

The ability to see your favorite clubs, leagues, and tournaments helps spark interest in the game, fueling the MLS as they’re the easiest games to attend for Americans.

International Players in the MLS

Growing up in the United States, fans would see stars such as Kaka and Bradley Wright-Phillips playing overseas. Looking at the game today, stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Bastian Schweinsteiger playing right here in our backyard.

People can go to an MLS game and see some of their childhood heroes that have played at the top level in the world. These are some of the best talents that have ever played the game. Indeed, the underlying factor is that they’re able to teach some of the younger players on how to improve their game.

(L) Bastian Schweinsteiger, (R) Wayne Rooney | Courtesy of D.C United
United States Players Abroad

There are 36 American players that are playing in the top leagues around the world such as the Premier League, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1. Not only are these the top leagues but also major teams: Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, and Newcastle United F.C.

Most notably, Christian Pulisic has recently been purchased by Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for $73 million. This transfer fee is more than three times the previous record for a U.S player in 2017 held by John Brooks.

This is a major milestone for United States soccer and a move that will surely keep more people in the United States watching games.

The Atmosphere

There is no comparison in the atmosphere that you get from some of the major clubs in the world, from the “Yellow Wall” at Signal Iduna Park to the breathtaking views at Wembley Stadium.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Courtesy of Atlanta United

However, there has been a major improvement over the past several years to recreate these atmospheres. Some of the most notable clubs to make a difference are the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, FC Cincinnati, and Atlanta United that feelings as a soccer match should.

What’s Next for the MLS?
Courtesy of Atlanta United

The MLS is continuing to make improvements that are essential for growth and popularity. There is a decline in the live business industry for the major sports in the Untied States, although the MLS has seen an attendance increase of over 12% the last three years.

This is a very exciting time for soccer and sports fans alike as we’re watching a league grow and see the United States International teams compete at the highest level.

Taylor Lee is a former Sports Editor at Grit Daily. With over ten years of experience in the business realm including an MBA from Grand Canyon University, Taylor focuses his writing in the fields of sports, music, and business. His other interest include being outdoors, cigars, and fine bourbons.

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