Major League Soccer looking to grow its U.S. fan base


Arguably the biggest superstar in the MLS, Gonzalo Higuaín plays for Inter Miami FC.

Soccer in the United States isn’t known for its popularity and huge crowds. In the U.S., soccer usually only becomes popular during the World Cup and the Olympics when the U.S. national teams are playing when Americans use it as a chance to get together and cheer for their country’s success. Major League Soccer (MLS) has spent almost three decades trying to increase support for its U.S. league’s teams much like the NFL and the NBA which are considered the biggest sports in the U.S. 

The big difference between soccer and other sports is that soccer is a low-scoring sport of 1-0 games and there is the possibility of games ending in a tie, which isn’t very appealing to most Americans. Sports such as basketball and football are higher scoring sports where there is constant back and forth action in which teams score a lot of points. 

“As much as I love playing and watching soccer, I can agree that some games can be somewhat uneventful, and unless you grow up watching the sport it can be boring,” Olympic Heights senior Dylan Lima says.

However, in the last decade, MLS has become increasingly popular. Recently, top international talents have found themselves playing in the MLS near the end of their careers which attracts big investments and a large social media presence. Therefore, more people are watching games.

The MLS has attempted to grow its popularity but it has faced many obstacles. Even though the U.S. is considered one of the richest countries in the world, when it comes to soccer, the U.S. has faced a lack of money coming into the teams. They have also struggled to pull in television numbers which is ultimately the main way to earn money in sports.

Over the next several years, the MLS plans on capitalizing on the fact that the U.S. will host the 2026 World Cup. The MLS can reach a wider audience because soccer will be played all throughout the country and it will be hard to avoid. “I hope that when 2026 rolls around, soccer will become more talked about and popular in the U.S. and the sport can be appreciated for the beautiful game that it is,” OH senior Diego Burguete commented.

The MLS is learning from the mistakes of past soccer leagues in the U.S. such as the North American Soccer League (NASL), which spent too much money on players and did not generate enough revenue. As a result, the NASL was forced to suspend operations and shut down. Back in the mid-1970s when Brazilian superstar Pele played for the New York Cosmos, crowds of up to 70,000 people would flock to watch teams play in the NASL, but this is merely a faded memory these days as the MLS tries to be the most popular sport watched in the country.