Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but it has never been big in the USA. And that’s changing.
It has been exciting to see the popularity of soccer grow here over the past couple of years. On a national level, superstars like Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan have elevated the American game and helped the US teams have strong support in both the Olympics and the World Cups. At the club level, recent signings and team creations have helped bring up the popularity of club soccer in the US and in Cincinnati.
Major League Soccer (MLS) has stepped up their game the past couple of years. The level of play has risen and drawn the attention of big name stars looking to play soccer here in the states. This season alone the league has added Steven Gerrard, David Villa, and international superstar Kaká to its ranks. Gerrard is an English legend, Villa is Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer, and Kaká is a former FIFA world player of the year and is considered one of the best in the world alongside Ronaldo and Messi.
Along with these top players, US soccer hero Tim Howard announced he will be leaving the English Premier League to play with the Colorado Rapids next season. This is an exciting move for MLS, as it adds another big name US star to their arsenal and will help them become a household name like MLB or the NFL.
While MLS is growing in popularity, skill and superstardom, professional soccer is growing right here in Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati is a United Soccer League (USL) team that played their home opener at Nippert Stadium on April 9th. The club already has a strong fan base and a talented roster, with newcomers and former MLS players looking to get back in the game. USL is under MLS and FC Cincy provides the perfect opportunity for the large soccer community in this area to support a professional soccer team.
I think it’s wonderful that the people of Cincinnati will now have a chance to experience soccer at a higher level and have a home team to root for. I also think it is encouraging to see global soccer stars choose the US as their home. Hopefully the trend of playing in the US will continue grow and one day MLS will be just as big as our other professional sports and just as well known as other club leagues around the world. Soccer is a universal sport that everyone can understand and enjoy and I’m happy people are beginning to recognize that.