The future of soccer in the United States
Soccer game growth in the US is now starting to blossom. For many decades, this game has been eclipsed by some other games such as the American football, baseball, basketball, hockey and golf. But finally, this game is becoming a major sport in the United States. The following is the journey that has led to what is now US soccer.
Over the last one year, the US men’s and women’s national teams have had both good and bad times. In February, the Men’s team experienced iconic victory over the Euro runner up Italy while the women’s team defeated Brazil in World Cup quarterfinals in one of the most exciting World Cup games ever. In the same year, Mexico humiliated the Men’s team in the Gold Cup and Japan defeated the women’s team in penalties in one of the emotionally crushing world cup defeats. Despite the many lows, US soccer is experiencing growth and improvements. As a result, the Americans are now at a generational turning point.
Why the American soccer will change
• The American soccer fans are not ok with any losses to mediocre side Ever since USMNT re-emerged on world scene with their qualification for the world cup in 1990, the American team fans have understood that the road to becoming a quality team is a long one. Having understood this, they are not willing to sit back and rationalize the defeat of their team. They are now expecting wins and they won’t accept complacency on their coaches’ side or the soccer administrators. A good example would be the pressure they exerted on the US Soccer President Sunil Gulati to replace the former head coach Bob Bradley after the soccer team’s bad performance in the last Gold cup.
• There is a fight for the soul of American soccer The push for a more attractive style in the US football teams is one of the biggest moves that USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann and USWNT coach Pia Sundhage has implemented. On the women’s side, the US has utilized various formations to emphasize on more possession oriented play styles. Jurgen Klinsmann has tried the same on the men’s side. He has managed to push all levels of men’s program to implement the preferred 4-3-3. Including in the lopsided defeat to Brazilians, fans realized the improvements in the team.
• The youth movement is at its best In the past, it was rare for Americans to play in Europe. But today, the number of Americans playing abroad has highly increased and the American football fans can hardly keep track of them. However, the American players who were looked down upon by the European managers are now offered chances in many leagues around the world. Furthermore, there are scouts from different parts of the world in the country looking for the best young talents.
• Soccer in the country has maintained its high growth Contrary to what happened some years ago, more people including the non-soccer fans are tuning in to watch matches. Youth participation is also increasing and with a highly growing base of players to select from, the quality may also improve. The training in the country has also been improving from groups of well meaning parent coaches to professionally trained coaches most of whom participated in fairly competitive games themselves. Most Major League Soccer stadiums in the country are also soccer specific and more fans will now tune in for the big international tournaments. Even though this might seem like small steps in American Soccer growth, they are helping the country to become better each and every day and soon it will be able to compete with the football giants.
The history of soccer in the United States
The American soccer has come a long way with the Oneidas of Boston being the first soccer club in the country which was formed by Gerritt Miller Smith in the year 1862. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was formed in the year 1904 and one year later on 1st April 1905 Harvard University and Haverford College engaged in a first modern day Intercollegiate Soccer match. The Fords lost the match.
In 1921, American Professional Soccer League (ASPL) was started to help develop the young talented American players train for 1933 FIFA World Cup. In the World Cup results that year, the American team was the third. Later in 1950, Joe Gaetjens scored a goal which helped the US team win over England in the World Cup held in Brazil. The results of this match were 1-0. Including today, this is acknowledged to be the largest upset in the American soccer history even though there have been other underdog stories in the last 60 years.
In 1961, FIFA recognized the Confederation of North Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) – the soccer governing body in America. Due to this catalyst, some teams like Mexico, the United States and some other countries in the Central and Northern America desired to be contenders in the world stage.
The 1994 World Cup, which was held in the United States is said to have been one of the most successful World Cup tournaments in its history. Over 3.5 million people attended the matches and this broke the history of attendees by around 1 million previously held in Italy in just four years. For the first time, US managed to get out of the group stage in 64 years only but lost their round-of-16-match to the eventual champions: Brazil. But in Ontario California, Landon Donovan – a 12 year old – watched and also dreamt of the future.
In 2002, the US shocked the entire world after it made it to the World Cup quarter finals before they lost their match to Germany. They had won their match against Portugal, 3-2, along the way and a match against Mexico in the round-of-16-matchup. In the most recent history of the American history, in the last 2 World Cups, with help of some players such as Landon, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Michael Beasley, Tim Howard, Jozy Howard and many other talented players, the US has managed to get out of the most difficult groups. And without forgetting that the country may take gold in the Word Cup with Jurgen Kinsmann, the newly appointed coach for USMNT.
Where will America be from here? Nobody will really tell, but with the talent in their youth system in the Major League Soccer and in the top leagues around the world, America has a brighter growth of soccer. The support of soccer in the country may help the teams grow to higher heights.