I’ve finally completed all my Soccer 101 posts! If you missed them or want to learn more about how worldwide soccer works, check them out here.
One thing that makes things more difficult for Americans to jump on the soccer train is not having a team to support. How does one root for a team in Europe with zero ties to the continent? Here’s a brief description of some leagues/teams and why you might consider rooting for them:
The Premier League tends to be the most supported league by Americans, likely because we speak the same language and games are easily accessible.
Arsenal: As a Tottenham fan, I shouldn’t tell anyone to support Arsenal. However, they are owned by an American (Stan Kronke, who also owns the Rams, Avalance, and Nuggets) and has a lethal attack. Their defense is very shaky but their ability to score makes them entertaining to follow.
Tottenham: They’ve earned success at a fraction of the budget of other top English clubs. They have a large American following and have gone from a decently sized club to being known around the world. They’re also bitter rivals with Arsenal (consider supporting them if you have an annoying friend who’s an Arsenal fan).
Chelsea: If there’s ever a time to start supporting Chelsea, it’s now. The majority of their history and success have come in the 21st century, but their current squad is filled with young and promising players including our American icon Christian Pulisic.
Manchester United: A team with a storied history in the midst of an awful 5 year period. Now might be a good time to start rooting for them, you won’t be considered a bandwagoner when they’re great again in a few years.
Liverpool: An amazingly talented team filled with lovable players and a manager. If you don’t mind hopping on that bandwagon this is an insanely entertaining team to watch. They will likely end a 29-year Premier League title drought this season.
Manchester City: They’ve bought all their success with oil money from Middle Eastern Ownership. Do not support Manchester City.
Leicester: A dark horse here, but Leicester have a promising future, largely in part to the patient process benefitting from their Premier League crown in 2016.
Other teams to consider: Wolverhampton Wanderers & West Ham United
In the past 6 or 7 years, Paris $aint Germain, Juventus, and Bayern Munich have all dominated the French, Italian, and German leagues, respectively. For these three teams, their primary objective is winning the Champions League, which none have done in that 7-year span.
Barcelona will always be a fun and special team to root for, with their primary goal also to win the Champions League (They’ve been Spain’s best the past few seasons).
My top 3 recommendations for teams outside of England to root for are:
Atletico Madrid (Spain): they’ve been known to be the “little brother” to Real Madrid in the past, but recent history had helped establish them as one of the world’s best clubs. They play a unique style of football prioritizing their defense and play in a brand new stadium. You will be consistently entertained by supporting them.
Borussia Dortmund (Germany): Check out the Yellow Wall here. They feature a consistently young and entertaining squad and are built to dethrone Bayern in the near future. Their fan support is unlike any other team in the world and their black and yellow kits are one-of-a-kind.
Ajax (Netherlands): Ajax is a club with a rich history that has experienced a recent revival in the past season or two, most notably making it all the way to the Champions League semifinals in 2019. While playing in the Dutch league may not provide the same entertainment as other top leagues, their involvement in European competitions will always make them an intriguing team to support.
I’m sure my Premier League bias is showing a bit here, but again, I believe watching a league of a country that speaks the same language will naturally be the best fit. Beyond this, support your local MLS team. Soccer will continue to grow in America if fans start to feel an emotional attachment to their hometown or city they love.
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