Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the successful U.S. bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The 2002 World Cup, in which the U.S. reached the quarter-finals by surprise against Portugal and Mexico, coincided with the resurgence of American football and Major League Soccer. MLS faced financial and operational difficulties in its early years; as football was a virtually unknown sport in the United States, fans were slow to follow, resulting in many teams playing in empty stadiums.
Major League Soccer is the largest professional soccer league in the U.S. and Canada, and the popularity of Major League Soccer is driving MLS betting on online sports betting around the world. With an average participation of over 20,000 people per game, the MLS is the third largest sports league in the United States, behind the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB). It is the seventh most popular professional football world championship.
Football is famous not only in significant league football with some of the world’s top football stars but also in high school and college leagues, providing opportunities for players of all ages and ensuring growth, player engagement, fans and continued development of American football. According to Nielsen Sports, interest in soccer in the U.S. is growing in general, and Major League Soccer (MLS), up 27 per cent since 2012. As a result, football has become increasingly important in American culture.
During the year of continuous development of national football teams and the Federation as a whole, the women’s national team won the sport’s most coveted accolade by winning the record-breaking 1998 World Cup against Japan. Youth academies, secondary training and development groups, and MLS Next Pro have all expanded the game exponentially and contributed to the development of football in the United States. No, football will not replace baseball as America’s national pastime, American football as the national game, or even basketball as the nation’s third most popular professional team sport.
Of course, according to the Wall Street Journal (Paywall), more kids in the U.S. play organised football than baseball teams, but that has been the case for many years. Another clear sign of football’s growing popularity is the number of teams participating in MLS, from 10 teams during its first matches in 1996 to 28 groups, including three Canadian teams, in the 2022 Major League Soccer season. At an MLS news conference in St. Louis on August 20, 2019, Garber said that the city had been awarded a franchise with a 2022 start date in exchange for a $200 million expansion fee. Due to the Missouri COVID-19 pandemic, the St. Louis expansion team’s debut, which was initially planned for 2022, was eventually postponed to 2023.