The Future of Soccer in the U.S.
There’s no doubt that soccer in the U.S. has increased in quality and popularity. From the thousands of youth soccer clubs to the anticipation of the 2026 World Cup, the future has never been brighter. Or, is that just smoke and mirrors?
After all, soccer has had a tumultuous history in the U.S., with many doubting its ability to take root and flourish in a country that has traditionally favored football, basketball, and baseball. However, things are changing…in a very positive direction.
In this article, we’ll go over the landscape of American soccer and the future of the sport in the U.S.
Current State of Soccer in the U.S.
Soccer has been steadily growing in popularity in the United States over the past few decades. While it is still not as popular as other major American sports such as football, basketball, and baseball, it has made significant strides in recent years. Here is a closer look at the current state of soccer in the U.S.
Comparing Soccer Against Other Major American Sports
Soccer has slowly become the fourth most popular sport in America behind American football, basketball, and baseball. Trailing closely to soccer is ice hockey.
In the coming years, I could see soccer surpassing baseball but that’s just a gut assumption. I just don’t know a soul who watches baseball games in its entirety anymore. But, that just be my inner circle 😉
One factor that has contributed to the growth of soccer in the U.S. is the increasing popularity of Major League Soccer (MLS).
The league has expanded significantly in recent years, with new teams being added and attendance at games increasing. Additionally, more American players are playing professionally in Europe, which has helped to raise the profile of the sport in the U.S.
Another factor that has helped to boost the popularity of soccer in the U.S. is the success of the U.S. national teams.
The USWNT have won four World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, making them one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport. Their success has helped to inspire a new generation of young girls to take up the sport.
The men’s national team has started to make a mark on the international stage. They are starting to beat quality teams and are poised for a great World Cup showing. This has helped significantly increase the popularity of the sport.
Honestly, while soccer still has some way to go before it can compete with the likes of football and basketball in terms of popularity in the U.S., it is clear that the sport is growing in popularity and has a bright future ahead.
The Impact of Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer (MLS) has been instrumental in growing soccer’s popularity in the United States. In just a few decades, it has become a major player in the sports industry, attracting top talent from around the world and expanding into new markets.
In 2022, MLS viewership was up 16% over the previous year.
The 2023 numbers haven’t been published yet but I’m anticipating an even bigger jump. The combo of the Apple TV deal and events like Messi joining Inter Miami has given the MLS a big pop in viewership.
Messi Joining the MLS
One of the biggest stories in American soccer has been the GOAT, Lionel Messi, joining an MLS team. The Argentine superstar is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, and his arrival in the U.S. is a major boost for the league’s reputation and popularity.
In his debut, he recorded this spectacular goal in extra time.
In his second game, Messi was able to pull off a brace!
Messi joining Inter Miami is a huge win for soccer in the U.S. His presence has attracted more fans, media attention, and sponsorship deals, and has helped establish MLS as a rising league on the global stage.
Moreover, it has signaled to other top players around the world that MLS is a viable destination for their talents. This already has led to more high-profile signings and will only help its appeal in the coming years.
Youth Development in Soccer
Youth soccer development is critical to the future of soccer in the United States. With millions of young players across the country, it is important to provide high-quality training and diversified gameplay to develop the skills of young athletes.
U.S. has done a decent job at creating a competitive culture for those players that are more developed. There’s more of a pathway from the youth-level to the pro ranks as we’ve seen more homegrown players joining MLS teams.
At the same time, it’s equally as important to develop all youth programs including rec and travel. We want as many kids to play the game of soccer as possible.
In many regions, many kids opt to play American football and flag football over soccer. This is typically influenced by older siblings and parents. If we can switch the tides then I think we will be in a much better position in a decade or so.
Moreover, creating accessibility and opportunity for inner city youth is also important. Many young athletes in urban areas may not have access to quality soccer programs or facilities. Providing opportunities for these players to participate in soccer can help them develop their skills and potentially pursue a career in the sport.
One of the biggest drawbacks of youth soccer in America is the pay-to-play system in club soccer. As a whole, it does not provide equal opportunities. I hope one day this will change but for now, it is what it is.
If we can get to a point where we invest in our youth players, coaches, and facilities, I think we will be in a much better place.
Influence of International Soccer
Soccer in the U.S. has been influenced by the international scene. Soccer (or what others call football), is truly a global sport.
One of the ways international soccer has influenced soccer in the U.S. is through exposure to different playing styles and techniques.
The U.S. Men’s National Team has often struggled to compete at the highest level of international soccer due to a lack of technical ability and tactical awareness. However, the team has made significant strides in recent years, thanks in part to the influence of international soccer.
Another way international soccer has influenced soccer in the U.S. is through the influx of international players in Major League Soccer. Over the years, many international players have come to the U.S. to play in MLS, bringing with them their unique playing styles and techniques. This has helped to raise the level of play in the league and has also provided American players with the opportunity to learn from some of the best players in the world.
International soccer has also played a role in the growth of youth soccer in the U.S. Many youth players in the U.S. look up to international soccer stars and try to emulate their playing styles. This has helped to create a more diverse and dynamic soccer culture in the U.S. For many kids, the NFL Sunday mornings are equivalent to Premier League Saturday mornings.
Overall, the influence of international soccer has been a positive force in the growth of soccer in the U.S. It has helped to raise the level of play, provided American players with the opportunity to learn from the best, and has created a more diverse soccer culture.
Future Opportunities and Challenges
The future of soccer in the U.S. looks bright, with plenty of opportunities for growth and development. For starters, the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, presents a huge opportunity to showcase the sport and attract new fans. The tournament is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue and create thousands of jobs, which will benefit the economy as a whole.
Also, the rise of social media and digital platforms presents new opportunities for soccer in the U.S. Clubs and organizations can use these platforms to connect with fans, share content, and grow their audiences. This will help to raise the profile of the sport and attract new fans, particularly among younger generations who are more likely to consume content online.
Despite these opportunities, soccer in the U.S. still faces several challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure its long-term success. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of a promotion and relegation system, which is common in most other soccer leagues around the world. This system allows teams to move up or down between different levels of competition based on their performance, which helps to create a more competitive and dynamic environment.
Additionally, the U.S. soccer system still struggles with issues of diversity and inclusion. While progress has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in terms of creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for players, coaches, and fans of all backgrounds. This will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders in the sport to address these issues and create a more welcoming and inclusive culture.
Lastly, there are more competing sports in America and this will not change in the near future. Since many soccer leagues are year-round, it has to compete with American football, flag football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, ice hockey, and volleyball.
U.S. National Team
When it comes to the future of soccer in the U.S., the U.S. National Team is a crucial component. With the 2026 World Cup set to be hosted by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the potential of the USMNT.
One of the keys to success for the U.S. National Team will be identifying and developing young talent. There are several promising young players who could play key roles for the team in the years to come. Some of the players to watch include:
- Gio Reyna – The attacking midfielder has already made a name for himself at Borussia Dortmund and could be a star for the USMNT for years to come.
- Yunus Musah – The dynamic midfielder has impressed for Valencia in La Liga and has already earned caps for the USMNT.
- Christian Pulisic – Pulisic is already one of the most important players for the USMNT. He’s proven himself in Europe and will be a key player for the U.S. for years to come.
In addition to identifying young talent, the U.S. National Team will need to continue to develop a cohesive playing style.
Under the new coaching regime, the team has begun to implement a possession-based style of play that emphasizes quick passing and movement. If the team can continue to develop this style, they could be a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.
Overall, the future looks bright for the U.S. National Team. With a talented pool of young players and a clear playing style, the team has the potential to compete with the best teams in the world.
The Role of the USWNT
The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) has been one of the most successful teams in the history of the Women’s World Cup. They have won the tournament four times, including in 2019.
The 2023 World Cup is a chance for them to defend their title and cement their place as the best women’s soccer team in the world.
My Take on the Future of U.S. Soccer
In conclusion, the future of soccer in the US looks very promising.
With Messi coming to Miami and the upcoming 2026 World Cup, soccer in America is poised to rise significantly.
I’m hopeful that more kids will start playing soccer as a side effect. And, our existing youth programs will invest in more players and better coaching.
As you can probably tell from my content, it is an exciting time for American soccer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Soccer has been growing in popularity in the U.S. over the past few decades, but there is still room for growth. To increase the popularity of soccer in the U.S., more investment is needed in youth development programs, coaching education, and infrastructure. Additionally, more media coverage of soccer events (for both men and women) and players can help raise awareness and interest in the sport.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but it still lags behind other sports in the U.S. such as football, basketball, and baseball. However, the popularity of soccer in the U.S. has been steadily increasing over the years.
Yes, the MLS is still growing in the U.S. The league has added several new teams in recent years, and there are plans to add more in the future. Additionally, the quality of play in the MLS has been steadily improving, which has helped to attract more fans and investors. More international players are joining MLS teams which bodes well for the future of the league.