Steve Gilliard notes that with the MLS All-Stars stomping on Fulham 4-1 and D.C. United giving Chelsea a run for the money, that perhaps pro soccer in the US is approaching international levels.
This is a good thing for US Soccer. Because I think the National team’s experience is finally filtering down to MLS. That Columbus stadium was as packed as Anfield on Derby Day. But the US side, in both games, seem to play with a lot more confidence than in past years. The skill level is still pretty wide between a mid-table team like Fulham and most US sides.
And it is clear people are turning out for these matches in bigger numbers than before.
Over 23,000 for the All-Star match, 26,000 for a Chelsea/AC Milan match, and 31,000 saw D.C. United play Chelsea. These are big crowds by U.S. standards. Even an all U.S. exhibition in Cary, NC drew almost 8,000. As I’ve said before – soccer is experiencing a quiet revolution. Most people don’t even realize it, but if you watch closely you are starting to see it. Bigger crowds, more exhibitions, more soccer on TV, and US media paying more attention. But its a VERY slow moving revolution for sure. As Steve notes:
The exhibition matches get good attendance and good press. What is clear is that there is a growing audience for soccer in the US, because they understand the game. A mother who played soccer is far more likely to take her soccer playing children to these matches. The WNBA is far more family friendly than the NBA, with it’s insane ticket prices and night games.
This reinforces soccer as a global sport. And appeals to many, many Americans as well. And the media is coming around as well. Soccer is no longer a footnote in SI, and Jim Rome’s rantings are increasingly silly and irrelevant. The only single sport cable channel is Fox’s Soccer Channel, which means there is an audience for the sport in the US.
After years of rank US soccer incompetence, it’s nice to see the US building on their 2002 performance at the World Cup with solid players and a growing fan base.
It is nice. Lets hope it continues. If there aren’t exhibition matches in your area, but your kids really like soccer, take them to a collegiate match. They are fast paced, fun, and not so crowded you worry about your kids non stop. We’ve gone to a few matches at Duke University and had a great time. Some of our MYSA players got to be on field ball chasers too which they REALLY liked. The kids got to see the game up close and personal and even got to get autographs afterward. I think the Duke players got a kick out of it too, staying to sign autographs for a long time and thanking the parents over and over for bringing the kids. We’ll be going again this fall for sure.
You might be surprised how many opportunities exist in your area where your young soccer players can see the game at the next level.