My thoughts on soccer becoming more popular in the United States

Matthew Chaves, Assistant Sports Editor

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Soccer took the United States by storm in 1994 when the country hosted the FIFA World Cup. The global sport was exposed to Americans on the international level, and it was very hard for them to avoid it because it was taking place in their own backyard.

Soccer has never been popular in the U.S. People thought it was simply a children’s game that helped them stay in shape for other sports like football, basketball and baseball. Only recently have people watched the sport for fun and not through obligation because their children played it.

Of course, not everyone thought this way. Fans of soccer were always around in the U.S. In recent years, it’s gained traction and the number of fans grows year by year. People are even starting to know the most popular soccer players’ names.

Back in the day, it was only Pelé that people knew. But now, people know multiple players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Paul Pogba to name a few. Of course there’s also David Beckham, who came to the States to play for L.A. Galaxy.

Personally, I’m glad that the sport is finally getting the spotlight it very much deserves. Americans are understanding why the world loves the game so much and why it’s so popular. Sure, some games can truly be snooze-fests, but even if there are no goals scored, it still has the potential to be a super exciting game.

Baseball is the perfect comparison for soccer in terms of viewability. I don’t enjoy watching baseball myself, but there can be moments when I’m glued to the screen on the final play of a game. Bottom of the ninth, no runs between each team, but it’s two strikes, three balls and the bases are loaded. Anything can happen.

The same goes for soccer. No goals scored at all. The teams’ keepers performed perfectly throughout the game. Maybe seven, eight saves per keeper. Now, it’s the 93rd minute of the match, one last attack from one of the teams. Will they outsmart the defense when it matters most? Or will the defense stay solid and close them out one final time?

These kinds of moments last for what seems like minutes, but they are over within seconds. That’s what sports is all about – the moments that are truly memorable and game changing, arguably even life changing at times.

Soccer offers these moments every year. It’s almost impossible for it not to. There are leagues all over the world that offer exciting, entertaining soccer that comes down to the wire. Here in the U.S., we have Major League Soccer, which has its own league trophy that teams compete for, alongside the U.S. Open Cup, which is another trophy to fight for during the season.

Soccer may not be as popular as sports like football in the U.S., and it may never reach the viewership marks of American football, but the fact that the U.S. is on its way to join the global sport that is soccer brings me joy. It means we can also enjoy the sport as the world does and that we can finally be a significant chunk of the 3.5 billion viewers that watch the World Cup. Who knows? Maybe one day the U.S. can finally lift that famed trophy for ourselves.