Soccer in the United States

Association football, or soccer, has long been a popular sport in the United States. It is the most popular recreational sport for both boys and girls and has been so for more than 30 years. However, it has struggled to maintain a following as a spectator sport in the U.S., with baseball, American football, basketball, and ice hockey exceeding soccer in popularity.
Professional soccer has been less popular in the United States than most other parts of the world. Major League Soccer, the United States' professional first-division league, is not, in general, as well-attended as the major leagues of American football, baseball, or basketball, but MLS is also much younger, and has far fewer teams. Major League Soccer played its first season in 1996, while other major U.S. leagues have each existed since the first half of the Twentieth Century.
Although MLS is also much younger than most other countries' first divisions, and has 15 teams in 2009, it is already the 12th most-attended premier division in the entire world. In 2006, MLS broke its all-time record for attendance at a regular-season match, which saw 92,650 spectators fill the Los Angeles Coliseum on a Sunday in August; although that claim is somewhat misattributed to the MLS game as it was one of two games played that night, the second being a match between two power-houses of the Spanish speaking world: Spain's Barcelona and Mexico's Guadalajara. On August 1, 2009, a friendly match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Barcelona at the Rose Bowl, drew a crowd of 93,137 fans. The last time a soccer match drew that many people in the United States was during the 1994 FIFA World Cup.[5]
In 2007, with the arrivals of international superstars such as David Beckham and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, attendance records for specific MLS teams and stadiums continue to rise. Additionally, the United States and Mexico national teams have been playing in front of crowds in excess of 60,000 in the U.S. in recent years. Television viewership of club and international soccer in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with major sports networks regularly covering games in some fashion and several other channels dedicated mostly or entirely to the sport.
Until recently, American soccer was more of a regional phenomenon than it is today. Soccer flourished in hotbeds such as New Jersey, New York, Saint Louis, Southern California, and in areas with large immigrant populations that grew up with the game in their homelands. Nonetheless, soccer is now gradually gaining popularity all over the country, partially due to youth programs, the creation of Major League Soccer, and the recent success of the United States' men's and women's national teams.

History of soccer in the U.S.
It is often claimed that the Oneida Football Club of Boston, Massachusetts, founded in 1862 was the first club to play soccer outside the United Kingdom. However, the club could not have been playing soccer, as they were formed before The Football Association formulated the rules in England; it is not known what rules the club used, and it broke up within the space of a few years. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the club is often credited with inventing the "Boston Game", which both allowed players to kick a round ball along the ground, and to pick it up and run with it. The first U.S. match known to have been inspired by FA rules was a game between Princeton University and Rutgers University on November 6, 1869, which was won by Rutgers 6-4. The FA rules were followed in the Princeton-Rutgers contest: participants were only allowed to kick the ball and each side had 25 players. Other colleges emulated this development, but all of these were converted to rugby by the mid-1870s and would soon become famous as early bastions of American football.
Early soccer leagues in the U.S. mostly used the name "football," for example: the American Football Association (founded in 1884), the American Amateur Football Association (1893), the American League of Professional Football (1894), the National Association Foot Ball League (1895), and the Southern New England Football League (1914). However, the word "soccer" was beginning to catch on, and the Saint Louis Soccer League was a significant regional competition between 1907 and 1939. What is now the U.S. Soccer was originally the United States Football Association, formed in 1913 by the merger of the American Football Association and the American Amateur Football Association. The governing body of the sport in the U.S. did not have the word soccer in its name until 1945, when it became the United States Soccer Football Association. It did not drop the word football from its name until 1974, when it became the United States Soccer Federation.
Two more soccer leagues were started in 1967, the United Soccer Association and the National Professional Soccer League. These merged to form the North American Soccer League in 1968, which survived until 1984. The NASL also ran an indoor league in the latter years. Indoor soccer was a great success in the 1980s and 1990s, in part due to the effort of the NASL. When the NASL (both outdoor and indoor) folded, other leagues, including the Major Indoor Soccer League stepped in to meet the demand. Twenty-five years hence, the latest version of the MISL folded, and was replaced by the National Indoor Soccer League, the Professional Arena Soccer League, and the Xtreme Soccer League

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