by Oriana Durand
Sports in the United States have typically revolved around football, basketball, baseball and hockey, with soccer trailing behind. Fans of the historically popular sports rejoice at the start of every new season to celebrate their team and their city in full anticipation of excitement and triumph. However, soccer has seen a growing interest among Americans, especially since the rise of the MLS and the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Particularly in New York City, the home of a remarkable history of sports, fans are starting to cheer for other teams besides the Knicks, the Rangers, the Giants and the Yankees. The NY Red Bulls and now the NYCFC have attracted many across the city since the signing of big international players, such as Thierry Henry, David Villa, Frank Lampard and others. However, what has really instigated a movement of passion for the sport here and across the country is the growth of soccer among the youth. Today, the Youth Soccer League is the largest youth sports organization in America, counting 3 million members, aged 5-19.
The 2014 World Cup was a testament to the national pride and encouragement that New Yorkers are capable of, when virtually everyone in the city emphatically supported team USA. Beyond this strong American patriotism, New York also demonstrated its cosmopolitan nature, capturing the amalgamation of different countries, where fans also celebrated their respective national teams. Remarkably, this overall sense of pride was all channeled through the love for the game of soccer.
Beyond the World Cup effect, soccer’s popularity has risen to new levels in New York City thanks to its large international population and this group’s faithful following of big European leagues, particularly England, France and Spain. Moreover, the Latin American community has also impacted soccer’s growth in terms of viewing and playing.
Today, although there is still ample room for the game to develop in this country, the United States is finally measuring up with the rest of the world and adopting soccer as a fan favorite sport.