If you're like me, I'm sure you long for more American friends to banter with about soccer. The majority of my friends could care less about what's going on in soccer despite being sports fanatics. I brainstormed 5 ways to grow soccer in America without being pushy:
Take advantage of the slow summer season: While summer is the time for vacation and travel, it also signals the end of hockey, basketball, and European soccer seasons. Do a little research on the MLS team closest to you - I'm sure we all think we could do more in supporting our own domestic league. Tailgate for a game, or just have it on TV more, even if it's just background noise. Over time, this is going to peak your interest along with acquaintances.
Utilize social media: Interact with your favorite team(s) and players on a regular basis. These platforms have allowed teams and players to really grow their brands, and it's much easier to support when they can regularly follow. Suggest that your friends follow a funny Twitter team or player, or retweet/repost funny highlights. Spread the media that makes us love the game more and more each day!
SUPPORT THE US NATIONAL TEAMS: Something everyone can get behind. Try to watch every qualifier, friendly, etc. We may not always agree on their decision-making, but supporting both the men's and women's programs is crucial to our long-term success. Fair-weathered fans may not watch with the same regularity, but the more you watch, the more likely the chances others gain awareness.
Compromise with others: Try to put yourselves in your friends' shoes - you may not be immediately receptive when someone pushes something on you. If they have a hobby or enjoy a sport foreign to you, you should each exit your comfort zones and try something new! You never know what you may discover, and your friend is going to be more open-minded going to the soccer game.
Be patient: I really struggle with this one. I was born in 1994: since then, 14 expansion teams have been added in USA's main 4 leagues (NBA = 3, NHL = 6, MLB = 2, NFL = 3). In comparison, the MLS didn't even exist when I was born. The soccer wave had just swept America for the first time hosting the World Cup that summer (2026 is going to be a dream). 24 years later we have a 24-team league expanding to 27 teams by 2021. That progress is remarkable. Before we go comparing our league to the EPL (I could write an entire post about how much I hate that comparison) or keep complaining about its status, remember where it's come from. We're competing with leagues that have been established for over 100 years - we're only getting started :)
Author: Living in Southern California, Robert Sweeney has been a fan of soccer since he played as a young child. Since then, he’s become a diehard Tottenham and US National Team fan. Rob enjoys writing about the impact soccer has had on his life in hopes that it betters others as well. Twitter: @robsweeney11