The exciting future of American soccer

Between young stars and growing popularity, American soccer is in good hands going forward.

Although soccer is not considered a big four sport in the United States, it’s growing and it’s growing fast. As the most popular sport in the world, it may seem unfathomable to some that soccer isn’t as popular in the U.S. However, this is something that is subject to rapid change in the coming decades.

In order to analyze the whole situation, it is important to look back at the history of soccer in the United States. Since the invention of soccer in 1863, soccer hasn’t really grown in the U.S. at a fast rate until more recent decades. Although a lot of factors have been given credit for soccer’s recent boost in popularity, I believe the United States Women’s National Team’s success is the biggest reason.

Since they played their first cup in 1991, the USWNT has never received less than third place and has managed to win the world cup a whopping four times. That’s a 50 percent win rate for the USWNT which is a statistic everyone in America should be proud of. They even managed to dominate the first world cup they ever participated in with a win over Norway. Through their substantially longer history, the United States Men’s National Team hasn’t even come close to accomplishing as much. 

Another big reason that U.S. soccer has been on the rise in the last few decades is due to them being the host country in 1994. In a country where sports are as prominent as they are in the United States, hosting a large sporting event like the world cup is bound to get fans excited about U.S. soccer. Despite the 1994 world cup only having 24 teams, it still holds the record for the highest attendance in a world cup ever. This upward trend has continued into the 21st century, where 52% more adults reported being soccer fans in 2019 compared to 2012. This statistic on its own sounds promising, however when compared to the growth of the big four sports in America during that same period, it becomes more significant.

Sports like basketball and baseball grew by 27% and 8% respectively. America’s most popular sport, football, lost 7% of adult fans during that same time period. As someone who grew up in a time when soccer was looked down upon while football was glorified, statistics like these show that the future is bright for American soccer.

More recently, the USMNT competed in the 2022 FIFA World Cup where they advanced to the round of 16 before losing to the Netherlands 3-1. Although they weren’t able to reach the quarter-finals, this is a step in the right direction as the U.S. failed to even qualify for the 2018 world cup. This is due to the recent surge in young talent across America. Entering 2022, the U.S. actually had the youngest squad in the world cup.

Even though this may seem like a negative to some, after watching a few of the matches, it’s clear that they are far from inexperienced. The USMNT will get a chance to make a deeper run in the next world cup on their home turf, as the United States most recently won a bid to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup with Mexico and Canada. This news couldn’t come at a better time. Even though the United States hosting the 1994 world cup helped grow soccer’s popularity in the U.S., there was one big flaw. The USMNT roster wasn’t nearly as talented as it is now.

Although the current roster is young, several of their starting eleven are playing at top clubs around the world. Big names like Tyler Adams a midfielder, Christian Pulisic a striker, and Matt Turner a goalkeeper are playing overseas in the renowned English Premier League. While other key players including Serginio Dest and Weston Mckinnie are playing in Italy’s Serie A.

Assuming players like these continue to excel in top clubs around the world, the USMNT will only get more experienced as 2026 rolls around. Although Gregg Berhalter is still an option to coach the U.S. Men’s National team in the future, following his contract expiry and domestic abuse scandal, it doesn’t seem likely that he will be chosen for the role. Additionally, reports show that the current interim head coach, Anthony Hudson, isn’t focused on being the new head coach for the USMNT. Although this may seem like bad news to some, others believe an outside hire may be what’s needed to take the USMNT to the next level. With legends like Steven Gerrard and Thierry Henry being mentioned as potential head coaches, the future of American soccer is looking more promising than ever.

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