For many decades, soccer in the United States has been regarded as a fringe sport, usually played only at amateur level. The enduring appeal of American Football, Baseball and Basketball has ensured that unlike in other parts of the world, soccer has not developed into a major popular national pastime.
There have been several attempts at reversing this by enticing established global stars and securing the FIFA World Cup in 1994. In the last few years there are positive signs that theses attempts may be effective as the MLS continues to grow by signing players such as David Beckham.
The Early Years: There is evidence to suggest that soccer was played in the early parts of the last century in the United States, but despite this, there was no professional league established in the country until the 1960s.
The North American Soccer League was a product of regional interest in the game, in particular in areas surrounding New York and New Jersey. During this time, the most prominent club was the New York Cosmos. It managed to attract famous global soccer players such as Franz Beckenbauer and Pele to the club to try to encourage interest in soccer.
However, despite the star names, the league failed to achieve this goal. Many of the players recruited by the Cosmos were regarded as players who had reached the end of their careers and simply were there to collect the money. The league eventually folded in 1984 and the Cosmos followed a year later.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup: Much to the disdain of many soccer experts, the World Cup in 1994 was held in the United States. FIFA hoped that by showcasing the game directly to Americans in their own country, many would develop an interest in the sport. The tournament as a whole was regarded as a great success. The United States soccer team managed to qualify from the early stages of the tournament before narrowly losing 1-0 to the eventual world champions Brazil.
The decision to hold the competition in the United States proved to be a good move as record attendances demonstrated an interest in soccer across the country.
Major League Soccer: The decision taken by FIFA to award the 1994 World Cup was given on the basis that a professional soccer league would be established in the United States soon after. In 1996 the Major League Soccer was formed to fulfil this promise.
In the initial immediate aftermath of the World Cup the league sustained this interest and attendances were good. However, the national team's exit from the 1998 World Cup after losing all three games coincided with a rapid decline in the MLS fortunes. Dwindling attendances and a lack of revenue threatened to prove that soccer had no future in the United States.
Since the 2002 World Cup in Asia, the MLS have recovered considerably. The league began to develop a series of talented young players such as Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu, who began to attract overseas interest from the established European teams.
In 2007 the MLS introduced the Designated Player Rule that aimed to allow the teams in the MLS to compete financially with Europe's top clubs for the world's best soccer players. This proposition allowed them to sign one player each season with wages above the salary cap. The best example of this to date is English soccer player David Beckham transferring to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
The MLS has increased its appeal in recent years and its proponents now hope that many more world stars follow Beckham.
With its primary goal to be the world's most competitive and prestigious soccer league, together with one of America's premier sports and entertainment properties, Major League Soccer is a large part of worldwide soccer news and is making superb strides toward achieving its aim. With six teams comprising the Eastern Conference and the same number featured in the Western Conference, Major League Soccer is going strong with twelve clubs in just its 11th season.
On the other hand, soccer news recalls that the league has done great triumphs ever since its inception in 1993. Its inaugural season began in 1995 and soccer news stirred around the new formation of teams, event locations and new players. In 1996, soccer news noted the League's first player draft and spring training. As attendance continued to grow, ESPN started televising soccer news and popularity soared throughout the country. During this year, more soccer news reports and members of the media began covering MLS events. Supporters appeared in large fashion to get a glimpse of their favorite teams and players.
In 1998, Major League Soccer underwent its very first expansion season, which meant big changes for the League. With the adding up of two teams, which delivered the club count from its original 10 to the twelve, soccer news presented the latest League members as Chicago and Miami. Both teams proved impressive throughout their first year as they advanced to the playoffs. The next year, in 1999, Columbus Crew Stadium officially opened as the first major league stadium in the United States that was constructed specifically for soccer. Its existence reaped rewards as countless numbers of fans loaded the house to see featured competitions.
In 2002, Major League Soccer eliminated two of their 12 clubs from the roster and once more returned to ten teams. Tampa Bay and Miami were no more League teams, but were swapped out in 2004 with some other expansion teams. Real Salt Lake and Club Deportivo Chivas USA joined the League and dragged the club number back up to its present 12 teams.
The clubs of Major League Soccer include both domestic and international competitors. With a very diverse roster, players are frequently being featured in soccer news magazines, soccer news televised programs and interviews.
Today, Major League Soccer remains to gain in popularity in the United States and all over the world. Cheering fans, exciting competitions and major soccer news coverage are among the numerous indications that Major League Soccer is not going anywhere soon.
Diverse types of soccer like competitions have been played as far back as the times of the Romans. However, the U.S. was the 1st British colony to beginning participating in soccer games. As far back as 1609 in the Jamestown colony various forms of soccer were being played. In the U.S. soccer refers to the game where you kick the ball into the opposing team's goal for points. In other countries, soccer is what people in the U.S. would consider football. In mid 2008, several players were inducted into the Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum in Canada.
These players were; Arthur Arnold, John McGrane, William Flinton, Jack Brand, Jimmy Adam, Bruce Twamley, Constantinos Souplotis, Les Wilson and Walter W. Bowman. It's not only the Americans and Canadians who have a strong soccer history. In fact, much of the world does also. Here is a small list of some of the international soccer competitions that men and women compete in globally; Women's World Cup, Nordic Cup, World Youth Championship, Futsal World Championship, Pan American Games, World Cup, and the Olympic Soccer Tournament.
In the game of soccer, each team normally has eleven positions and eleven players playing in those positions. However since there are many ways to play the game soccer this isn't always the case. Generally you will have backs, defenders, forwards, fullbacks, goalies, goalkeeper, midfielders and striker sweepers. Optional positions include; midfield anchor, midfield general, midfield maestro, attacking midfielder, central midfielder, defensive midfielder, finisher, central defender, central forward, halfback, and stoppers.
The object of the game of soccer is to kick the ball into the opposing teams goal. This is done by kicking the soccer ball around to other team mates in order to get them into a scoring position. Similar to the sport of basketball in regards to continuous passing, except the feet are to be used instead of the hand. This game demands a lot of physical endurance and mental capabilities in order to win. Players must be sharp enough to know when and where to pass the ball to without it being taken away by rival teams players. Each soccer game last ninety minutes with one fifteen minute break in between each game.
Highest Paid Players
1. Kak - AC Milan: $14.9 million per year
2. Ronaldinho - FC Barcelona: $14.1 million
3. Frank Lampard - Chelsea: $13.5 million
4. John Terry - Chelsea: $13.5 million
5. Fernando Torres - Liverpool: $13.1 million
6. Andriy Shevchenko - Chelsea: $12.9 million
7. Michael Ballack - Chelsea: $12.9 million
8. Cristiano Ronaldo - Manchester United: $12.7 million
9. Thierry Henry - FC Barcelona: $12.7 million
10. Steven Gerrard - Liverpool: $12.7 million
Major League Soccer (MLS)
The MLS was founded in 1993 and has grown to sixteen teams with discussion of adding more teams in the near future. Although they claim sixteen teams, the newly added Philadelphia won't begin playing until 2010. Here is a list of the Major League Soccer teams; Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, Red Bull New York, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Toronto FC. Each team plays a total of thirty games per year in an attempt to win the MLS Cup.