Long seasons and slow games
If you look at the regular season in the NFL, you’ll notice that it’s pretty short. Teams play 16 games, and it’s over in a few months, but soccer takes much longer. In Europe, teams play a season for almost 10 months, with just a short amount of time off before they go again. This is a concept many American sports fans just don’t have the patience for, but there is another problem for soccer in the U. S.
Games in soccer are not designed to be all-action like in football or basketball, so often the game can seem quite slow. This means that fans of established American sports struggle with the perceived lack of action.
Lack of homegrown stars
Some would argue that American players are being held back from being the best they can due to the college system. In Europe, a top player will already be playing for a big club by the time they are 18, often starting in games and getting valuable experience. In American sports, the college system is great for weeding out the best players from the rest, but soccer players develop much quicker.
Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and current teenage sensation Kylian Mbappé all started playing before their 20s. Mbappé has already won the World Cup at the age of 19. In contrast, American players don’t get to play at a professional level until they are 21 or 22, but that’s too late.
A lack of interest in soccer could be explained by the fact that Americans already have so many options at their disposal. Soccer is not traditionally an American sport, and so people have not grown up watching it, unlike football or baseball.
There is a lack of interest in the sport because it’s not what people know, and it’s struggling to appeal to people who have their favorite sport already. Soccer is becoming hugely popular with younger people however, and an estimated 30% of the population now enjoys watching soccer, so the future is brighter for it.
The best players
When basketball or football fans sit down to watch their favorite teams, they know they are watching the absolute best players in the world. When it comes to the MLS, it’s a different story. The best players all play in Europe, so it’s hard to get people to buy into the sport when they know there’s better quality elsewhere.
Soccer is gradually becoming more popular, but for it to truly become a major focus, America needs to taste some success. The United States women’s team have won the World Cup three times and a gold medal at the Olympics four times, so maybe their success can lead the way.