Column: Has soccer finally arrived in America?
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 23:09
Watching as the Columbus, Ohio crowd went berserk as the U.S. men’s national soccer team rolled to victory Tuesday night over Mexico, the question that comes up around the time of World Cups reared its head back into conversation.
After years of being just a once-every-four-years event for the majority of Americans, has soccer finally arrived in the United States?
With Tuesday night’s victory, the U.S. clinched its seventh consecutive trip to the World Cup and its tenth trip overall. Though the U.S. is yet to get any farther than the quarterfinals in the actual tournament, that many qualifications alone continues to solidify the national teams rank among a solid tier of teams.
But how is soccer faring back home on the professional level in Major League Soccer?
Since as long as anyone can remember now, the sports conversation has revolved around the “Big Four;” that being the four most popular sports in the country in football, baseball, basketball and hockey. I have heard arguments for the fifth most popular coming from NASCAR, which has many hotbeds across the Midwest and south, and even for lacrosse, arguably still one of the fastest growing sports among high school and college athletes (despite the lack of success from the sport on a professional level).
But after another match like the one America saw Tuesday night in Ohio alongside years of resurgence and expansion in the MLS (the league will add its 20th team, New York City FC, in 2015), it is hard to ignore the growing impact the sport is having on the United States.
Consider even the soccer hotbeds that have emerged in areas like Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere in the country. Seattle’s passion was even enough to lure American superstar Clint Dempsey away from the prestigious Premier League and back into the American ranks.
Admittedly, its is naive to think that soccer has clome close to reaching its potential in the United States, especially considering the still increasingly popular NFL, NBA, and other leagues.
But even if soccer has not fully arrived in America yet, it is hard to deny the fact that it is at least still on its way.
Hopefully the country will be ready for it when it gets here.