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Is Soccer in the United States Really Growing?
US Soccer Players ^ | Charles Boehm | February 26

Posted on 03/01/2014 3:53:59 PM PST by nickcarraway

It's a common question: Is soccer in the United States really growing, beyond the mere literal sense of the word?

Answer: Yes and no – though even some instances of “no” actually point to “yes.”

Let me try to explain, starting with a brief flyover of central Virginia youth soccer.

A few months ago the Richmond Strikers and Richmond Kickers youth clubs, fierce rivals and longtime members of the US Soccer Development Academy, announced that they were merging their Developmental Academy programs into a new entity called “Richmond United". This new joint venture would pool both clubs' talent and coaching resources in order to improve their competitiveness and overall developmental environment. Like some (but not all) academies, players selected will pay no fees to participate.

“This is a great opportunity for our two nonprofit organizations to work together to further our missions by providing the most promising male soccer players in the Richmond area in these age groups with the opportunity, regardless of financial means, to train and compete at the national level,” chair of the board of the Richmond Strikers John Mumford said in a press release.

Earlier this year the clubs replicated the same arrangement for their top girls teams in the female equivalent of the Developmental Academy, the Elite Clubs National League.

Though casual soccer fans may be more familiar with the Kickers thanks to their well-established USL PRO team, in a youth context the Kickers and Strikers are peers. They're crosstown adversaries in every sense of the word, competing ferociously for primacy in a region of 1.2 million people. Traditionally there's very little love lost between them.

So why have they reversed years of history and thrown their lots in together? And why I am telling you about this in the first place?

While it's not always easy to discern, competition for places is increasing across the soccer landscape. In many contexts, this is happening on multiple levels. That's almost always a good thing.

Those two old enemies in Richmond have carved out plenty of success both in terms of results on the field and player development over the years. Yet, they've found it tough going amid the merciless nationwide competition of the Developmental Academy, where market size can be just as influential as coaching, facilities, and other “root to fruit” infrastructure.

The Kickers and Strikers Developmental Academy teams usually finish at or near the bottom of the Atlantic division standings, behind clubs in more populous regions with deeper talent pools in the Washington/Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York/New Jersey areas. Many observers believe that their central Virginia “catchment area” is simply not big enough to support two successful Developmental Academy and Elite Clubs National League organizations.

So whether or not it was mutual self-awareness that prompted them to put aside old mentalities, they've crafted a new partnership that enables them to hang together instead of hanging separately, to borrow a line from Benjamin Franklin.

Similar scenarios have played out in Connecticut, Georgia, California, and elsewhere as youth clubs form alliances. Coming to terms with the sobering reality that not everyone can be truly “elite” might be easier now than it's ever been. A rising tide of professionalism is ever so gradually making that term less subjective.

Another reminder of this evolution played out on Thursday when, after months of rumors and rumblings, the official news broke that Major League Soccer had purchased Chivas USA from Mexican billionaire Jorge Vergara. That choice ended a decade-long experiment that degenerated into a farce which neither MLS nor ownership could afford any longer.

It wasn't just the years of red ink, bad press and bad soccer that put to rest the vague hopes of extending the Chivas Guadalajara brand. It was the burgeoning value of MLS membership testing MLS commissioner Don Garber's patience – and with good reason.

Chivas USA cost its original ownership a reported $10 million expansion fee in 2005, and last year NYCFC's entry apparently set back their investor/operators 10 times that figure. A stated desire to deny owners control of multiple clubs going forward further increases values, as the long-running MLS talking point of “growing the footprint” comes into clearer focus.

Many quibble, with justification, about the methods used by MLS to grow those numbers. A less selective approach to expansion in the lower divisions may or may not reinforce the point.

In the youth setting, the Developmental Academy is far from the only option for the massive ranks of excellent talent playing outside its limited confines. The issue of choosing either the Developmental Academy or high school soccer is important. There's still plenty of work to be done from plenty of organizations with a stake in the sport.

Other metrics, like year-on-year increases in USMNT interest and popularity and a tighter-than-ever race for USMNT World Cup roster spots, may be more prone to ebbs and flows, but recently suggest a positive trend line as well.

Complex realities tend to be resistant to simple observations. All the same, signs of advancing efficiency in American soccer are most welcome.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Sports
KEYWORDS: growing; soccer; socialism; unitedstates
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1 posted on 03/01/2014 3:53:59 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

I don’t see increased interest in Soccer as a positive for the United States.


2 posted on 03/01/2014 3:58:00 PM PST by ifinnegan
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To: nickcarraway

Nothing wrong with soccer. It is a good sport. However, there are many other competing team sports. So, professional soccer is competing with all them for fans, The NASL created a lot interest in the 70/80s when they recruited the top international players. I suppose they would have to do that again to “kick-start” professional soccer again in the US.


3 posted on 03/01/2014 4:02:30 PM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters for Freedom and Rededication to the Principles of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: 3Fingas

One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen (it’s on Netflix), is called “Once In a Lifetime” the story of the New York Cosmos.

The problem with the NASL was that other teams couldn’t keep up with the Cosmos, and eventually it all fell apart.


4 posted on 03/01/2014 4:04:55 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: nickcarraway

My kids don’t play soccer anymore but it’s a good sport. Unfortunately, the people who play it don’t necessarily want to pay to watch it. They’d rather play.


5 posted on 03/01/2014 4:06:25 PM PST by perez24 (Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap.)
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To: nickcarraway
I thought the importing of Pele back around 1975 was to be the spark that ignited soccer here in the U.S.?

Soccer has had over 35 years to make it's appearance but has failed on the professional level. Football and baseball will forever take precedence over the sport of nil vs. nil after two full halfs.............

6 posted on 03/01/2014 4:10:49 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (SO)
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To: nickcarraway

Youth soccer is being built primarily on a club rather than a school-based system, which is a big plus for the players. More subjectively, I find the culture of soccer here in the DC area to be attractive. Football and basketball have gone thug at the professional level, and the bad influence creeps down the chain. I don’t have a particularly broad field of vision, but I find youth soccer (again because it’s club based) to be dominated by parents (in contrast to school based sports), and standards of deportment are fairly high.


7 posted on 03/01/2014 4:12:28 PM PST by sphinx
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To: perez24

Played from grade school to college, loved playing, hate watching!


8 posted on 03/01/2014 4:14:18 PM PST by Empireoftheatom48 (God help the Republic but will he?)
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To: nickcarraway

Is America becoming more pussified?


9 posted on 03/01/2014 4:15:30 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: nickcarraway

Well, the feminazis are very close to destroying the NFL, and the next “acceptable” sport to the new ager is soccer.

I will never understand how anyone can get all worked up over 90 minutes of an uncontrollable ball going from one team’s possession to the other’s and wind up with a 0-0 or 0-1 score. AFTER 90 MINUTES!

The only reason why so many people are playing soccer is so they don’t have to watch it.


10 posted on 03/01/2014 4:18:09 PM PST by laweeks
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To: Empireoftheatom48
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11 posted on 03/01/2014 4:20:45 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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To: dfwgator

I remember that fondly. I lived in NY and was a cosmos fan at the time. I remember Pele, Georgio Chinalia, and Franz Beckenbauer. They were amazing players.


12 posted on 03/01/2014 4:21:59 PM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters for Freedom and Rededication to the Principles of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: BenLurkin
Don't get me wrong, I can't stand soccer. But do you really think soccer players are pussies? Cause you'd be wrong...


13 posted on 03/01/2014 4:24:40 PM PST by stormer
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To: 3Fingas

I was in Fort Lauderdale, when we had the Strikers: Gerd Muller, Georgie Best, Gordie Banks, Jan Van Beveren, Teo Cubillas....and we hated Rodney Marsh and the frickin’ Tampa Bay Rowdies.


14 posted on 03/01/2014 4:25:18 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: nickcarraway

Right along with the rest of the Europeanization of America.


15 posted on 03/01/2014 4:27:47 PM PST by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINEhttp://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/)
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To: dfwgator

I remember those guys too. Right you are, the NASL failed because lesser teams could not pay the dough to attract the talent. I don’t know if professional soccer is financial feasible in all parts of the country considering the other sports options available.


16 posted on 03/01/2014 4:28:21 PM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters for Freedom and Rededication to the Principles of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: 3Fingas

I don’t see soccer as very much of a “team” sport. The players are on sides, but they are not really teams. Co-operation among players on the same side seems to be ad hoc and there is no strategy.


17 posted on 03/01/2014 4:30:40 PM PST by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINEhttp://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/)
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To: 3Fingas

If they kept it to maybe 10 teams in the best markets, they could have spread the talent around. They just went crazy with expansion, at least the MLS avoided it, although I do wonder if they are starting to overstep things as well.


18 posted on 03/01/2014 4:31:29 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: arthurus

High-level soccer requires a lot of passing which is certainly a team effort.


19 posted on 03/01/2014 4:33:48 PM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters for Freedom and Rededication to the Principles of the U.S. Constitution)
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To: stormer
They aren't pussies.

They just act like it!

20 posted on 03/01/2014 4:34:15 PM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: nickcarraway

No.


21 posted on 03/01/2014 4:35:12 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: dfwgator

Yes, that might work. It would also depend on the season. If it were kept to the summer, it would only have to compete against baseball, so that would make it more competitive for fans.


22 posted on 03/01/2014 4:35:51 PM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters for Freedom and Rededication to the Principles of the U.S. Constitution)
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Less than $4.3k to go!!

23 posted on 03/01/2014 4:37:26 PM PST by RedMDer (May we always be happy and may our enemies always know it. - Sarah Palin, 10-18-2010)
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To: stormer

Thank goodness that soccer players would never be guilty of “flopping”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioyt2zzm530


24 posted on 03/01/2014 4:37:28 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: BenLurkin
Is America becoming more pussified?

It's the xenoestrogens in the food and water...we'll all be watching/playing soccer before you know it...

25 posted on 03/01/2014 4:38:03 PM PST by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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To: rlmorel

If you watched the English matches from the 70s it was a much tougher game then. Things that would be a straight Red card today went on all the time without so much as a foul being given.


26 posted on 03/01/2014 4:40:20 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: arthurus
I don’t see soccer as very much of a “team” sport. The players are on sides, but they are not really teams. Co-operation among players on the same side seems to be ad hoc and there is no strategy.

It's the exact opposite.

Check out this amazing goal, probably the greatest ever, and probably the greatest example of teamwork in any sport.

27 posted on 03/01/2014 4:41:19 PM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: trisham

No question - it’s comical to watch sometimes. But that said, there’re some pretty incredible athletes playing the game...


28 posted on 03/01/2014 4:43:28 PM PST by stormer
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To: rlmorel

LOL!! That looks like a clip from the WWE! Only with soccer uniforms.


29 posted on 03/01/2014 4:44:43 PM PST by Hardastarboard (The question of our age is whether a majority of Americans can and will vote us all into slavery.)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

I’ll see you Wilshere and raise you Dennis Bergkamp..Plus it’s worth it just to hear the Dutch commentator.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsZkCFoqSBs


30 posted on 03/01/2014 4:45:29 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: ifinnegan

If I were Czar, and I mean real Czar and not some wimpy Obama czar, I would ban soccer and make lacrosse the official alternate Spring sport to baseball. It has every thing soccer does not: scoring, contact, lack of thespianism, and it requires opposable thumbs.


31 posted on 03/01/2014 4:47:11 PM PST by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: FreedomPoster

I would bring in Gaelic Football.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEAbWrdB9XU


32 posted on 03/01/2014 4:48:39 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: nickcarraway

Soccer...indisputable proof that the rest of the world really IS that f#*%$d up.


33 posted on 03/01/2014 4:52:32 PM PST by Axeslinger (Where has my country gone?)
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To: FreedomPoster

Yes, yes, yes and yes!


34 posted on 03/01/2014 4:54:27 PM PST by Axeslinger (Where has my country gone?)
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To: Hardastarboard; dfwgator

Hehe, I have no idea what the context of that is, they look like they are on the same team.

I don’t really dislike soccer, when I see it being promoted in this country, it always seems to be by liberals. That is just my impression, don’t know if it is true or not. Probably not.

I guess it is a euro thing, so I feel obliged to poke at it. God knows they poke at our eyes a lot more than we poke at theirs!


35 posted on 03/01/2014 4:56:28 PM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: dfwgator

Could be said of a lot of things. Look at professional football...sure, a guy like Ben Davidson was extreme, but he wasn’t so far away from a lot of guys who played in that day.

Crazy stuff.


36 posted on 03/01/2014 4:58:30 PM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: BenLurkin

precisely

37 posted on 03/01/2014 5:05:18 PM PST by tomkat (3%+1)
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To: FreedomPoster

You understand!


38 posted on 03/01/2014 5:14:44 PM PST by ifinnegan
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To: nickcarraway

I think hockey is growing. My son played hockey all through school, then juniors hockey in Minnesota. My 3 grandsons play and soon 1 granddaughter and another grandson will play. In fact my grandson, who’s 12, played against Ben Sasse’s daughter. Her team won. She’s a pretty good player.


39 posted on 03/01/2014 5:20:31 PM PST by Linda Frances (Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.)
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To: ifinnegan

Thank you. Yes, yes I believe I do.

My son played soccer as a little kid. Then, about a dozen years ago, he played H.S. lacrosse for 3 years. I loved spectating lacrosse.

It’s time to start paying attention, I expect there will be some good college lacrosse on ESPN soon. And I have a Roku for ESPN3 now.


40 posted on 03/01/2014 5:26:03 PM PST by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

I have watched a few soccer games at my neighbor’s house and I call BS. Soccer is only good for post game riots.


41 posted on 03/01/2014 5:32:58 PM PST by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINEhttp://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/)
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To: dfwgator
I LOVE that documentary. When the Cosmos paid Pele something like 1 million dollars US to play for one season it was the biggest contract in sports at the time.

Fun times, and it captures the mid '70s perfectly.

The closing song "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan just nails it.

42 posted on 03/01/2014 5:37:29 PM PST by boop (I just wanted a President. But I got a rock.)
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To: dfwgator

Since I just came from watching an outdoor club tournament in New Hampshire on March 1 with games all weekend played from 8 am til 10 pm, I vote that it’s growing.

Also the New England Revolution certainly did their part to hurt American soccer when they recently let one of our best strikers, Juan Agudello, head to Stoke City.

A goal for the ages: (I was right next to the field for this gem)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhUJHKix070


43 posted on 03/01/2014 5:49:30 PM PST by bramps (Go West America!)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

Maybe the goal was a good example of team work, but please see post 43 for true brilliance.


44 posted on 03/01/2014 5:54:50 PM PST by bramps (Go West America!)
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To: boop

And we found out what a jerk Chinaglia really was was.


45 posted on 03/01/2014 6:41:31 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: BenLurkin

And pretend you don’t have arms...


46 posted on 03/01/2014 6:49:14 PM PST by 867V309 (Obammy = LIAR)
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To: BenLurkin

Soccer brings to mind high us school boys back in the day trying to get laid - a lot of running around and a whole lot of effort expended but no scoring.


47 posted on 03/01/2014 6:51:55 PM PST by Bob
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To: BenLurkin
I'm sure there's a head or two in there somewhere.

-PJ

48 posted on 03/01/2014 7:08:47 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

I’ll do you one better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNTM7iXEINw

Rangers vs. Dortmund, 1999 UEFA Cup. Twenty passes, stunning goal.


49 posted on 03/01/2014 7:14:01 PM PST by Colonel_Flagg (Some people meet their heroes. I raised mine. Go Army.)
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

Wasn’t that offside?


50 posted on 03/01/2014 7:17:54 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious! We reserve the right to serve refuse to anyone!)
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