In early 1990, football, or soccer as it’s known in the U.S., didn’t look like it was going to catch on in America. It became a hot topic as supporters and non-supporters of the game had many things to say about why: It was “too slow”, there wasn’t much scoring, and Americans were too busy watching the major North American sports are just a few of those reasons.
However, this century has seen the rise of two significant internet phenomena that have helped change their minds. Greater Internet connectivity has allowed many Americans to be exposed to and follow the U.K. Premier League and UEFA Champions League, while USMNT’s success at regional and international tournaments has helped usher in a new generation of soccer fans.
This 2002 edition of the tournament was a turning point for the team and soccer in America. It showed the world that USMNT had what it takes to compete with some of the top teams in the world, even though they hadn’t been previously viewed as contenders on that level.
The Qatar 2022 World Cup provides an interesting situation for American sports fans. Unlike past tournaments, this one occurs in winter instead of summer. In the summertime, the already-packed sports calendar dominated by the NFL during that time of year did affect just how much Americans were willing to embrace soccer. Yet, in winter, there is a different story as no NFL games are being broadcasted.
This situation will be tested when USMNT plays against England, considering a game that will be taking place on Black Friday, during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, when people are home with a lot of free time. The match will surely be a rating boon in the U.S. and could shatter viewing records. It’s clear now more than ever that soccer is becoming mainstream, and it may not be a question of whether soccer can make it in this country anymore – but rather how big an audience for soccer we can build here.