The roots of soccer in the United States go back to at least the 1850s, when German, English, Irish, and Italian immigrants brought the game overseas with them after entering the country through New Orleans. At a glance, soccer has a lengthy and exciting history in the United States.
Before the founding of the United States Soccer Federation in 1913, there were many clubs and non-sanctioned (no governing bodies like FIFA) regional-based leagues. The first notable soccer club was the Oneida Football Club. Established in 1862, in Boston, they were the first team to play organized soccer in the United States. The first attempt at an organized governing body was the American Football Association (AFA), formed in 1884. It ran the annual American cup until 1925 and folded after that, being superseded by the eventual United States Soccer Federation.
The United States Soccer Federation was initially known as the United States Football Association, founded on April 5, 1913. Located in Chicago, the headquarters was the first member of FIFA from North and Central America.
Later on, the NASL gave rise to a famous brand of soccer. The league was founded in 1967 and rose out of a union between the unsanctioned National Professional Soccer League and United Soccer Association. The most famous team from this era was the New York Cosmos (5-time champions, most in league history), led by Brazilian star striker, who averaged almost a goal per game). The NASL peaked in popularity in the late 1970s, due in large part to the success of the Cosmos and Pelé, but fell apart by 1984 due to declining attendance and waning popularity.
In 1994, the United States was selected by FIFA to be the host country of the (men’s) World Cup. Brazil won the competition, and the event took place at nine different stadiums. The host cities were Pasadena, California, San Francisco, California, Detroit, Michigan, East Rutherford, New Jersey, Dallas, Texas, Chicago, Illinois, Orlando, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C.
Finally, the MLS was founded in 1993. In its inaugural season in 1996, it began to play with ten teams and has since expanded to 26. The league gained more popularity in the ensuing years, managing to exceed even the NBA in average attendance.
With the MLS in talks about expanding to 30 teams by late 2022, what does the future hold? Will Soccer in America continue to gain popularity? Only time will tell.