One of the reasons that soccer is gaining a foothold in the United States is the fact that kids of all ages are participating in the sport. The stereotype of the “Soccer Mom” is real and almost every town in the Metropolitan tri-state area (New York City, Northern New Jersey, Long Island, Southern Connecticut, Westchester and Rockland Counties) has some sort of youth league.
NYCFC joined Major League Soccer in 2015 and immediately reached out to the neighboring communities to set up youth affiliates. They are:
Downtown United Soccer Club in Manhattan
Manhattan Soccer Club
Metropolitan Oval Academy in Queens and Brooklyn
New York Soccer Club in Westchester County
TSF Academy in New Jersey
World Class FC in Rockland County
SUSA FC in Long Island
NYCFC explains their affiliation with these youth organizations as the following:
The New York City FC Youth Affiliate Program is designed to provide soccer technical support and assistance to a select group of clubs from the New York Metropolitan Area. The affiliation with New York City FC offers a clear pathway for the local youth soccer community to reach the highest level of competition, providing each access to the invaluable resources and expertise of Major League Soccer's 20th team.
The fact that kids now have the opportunity to be inspired by professional players in their own city is invaluable for the continued growth of the game. It’s definitely having an impact here in New York.
I am a huge fan of international soccer and always look forward to the World Cup, the European Championships, CONCACAF Cup and the African Cup of Nations. However, this farce that is called the Nations League has me wondering when is enough enough.
I looked up an explanation of the UEFA Nations League competition and here is what it said,
A new national team competition that replaces friendlies with competitive matches, allowing nations to play against equally ranked teams. The four group winners of the top-ranked League A qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals in June 2019. For the remaining sides, there is promotion and relegation to play for, not to mention a potential route to UEFA EURO 2020.
Okay so there are four different “leagues” based on the success or lack of success of the 55 UEFA recognized European football associations. Yet only the top 12 teams get to compete for the trophy? I understand that the thought of San Marino facing France in a championship match would be hysterical, but on the other hand it would be pretty cool.
The top two “leagues” contain the usual suspects such as England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Croatia, etc. The more interesting groups are the two lower leagues. Here’s a look at the mighty nations battling it out here: Faroe Islands, Cyprus, San Marino, Andorra, Malta and perhaps my favorite, Gibraltar. Gibraltar has a national team? Isn’t it a rock that is a territory of Britain? I would love to be able to watch Gibraltar take on the Faroe Islands.
This tournament has promotion and relegation like the national leagues do, but I think they should hand out trophies for the four groups not just the top one. When else would some of these tiny nations ever get a chance for glory?
I’m not sold on this competition. It seems extraneous. However, the one nation that deserves a trophy just for showing up is League D’s San Marino. The lowest ranked team in Europe, San Marino finished bottom of the table with zero points, zero goals and a -16 goal differential. Check out the crowd during the national anthem above.
What do you think of UEFA’s new tournament?
One of the reasons that people love sports so much is for the camaraderie that builds between fans and the club that they support. Part of the reason that I became a fan of soccer is for just that reason.
Everyone has heard of Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, Boca Juniors and other well known teams from around the world. They have legions of fans, supporters all over the world and lots of money. However, there are tons of smaller teams throughout the world that do not have a global following or rich club owners. What they do have in common with the big clubs, is a supportive fan base.
Take for example, Chapecoense who currently play in Brazil’s Serie A. The small club from the south of Brazil has only been around since 1973 and for the most part played in obscurity in Brazil’s lower divisions. That was until they won promotion to the top league in 2014. They then became a Cinderella story when they reached the finals of the Copa Sudamericana in 2016.
Unfortunately the world learned about Chapecoense when the team’s plane crashed on its way to the finals in Colombia. 71 people were killed including almost the entire team. The outpouring from the soccer world was heartfelt and showed that the results on the pitch are always secondary to the human side of the game.
Similar scenes played out over the past two weeks at Leicester City. The team’s owner and chairman was one of five who lost their lives following a tragic helicopter crash outside of Leicester’s stadium.
The Foxes have been around in one form or another since 1884, but it wasn’t until Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha that the club gained worldwide prominence and acclaim. Defying the odds, Leicester City pulled off one of the greatest sporting miracles by winning the Premier League trophy for the 2015-2016 season.
Srivaddhanaprabha and his family were loved by Leicester supporters. The chairman attended many matches and would often leave the stadium by helicopter at the conclusion of matches. That is what he was doing when tragedy struck.
The outpouring from the players, the fans and the community of Leicester are proof that the club is more than just a sports entity. They are a family.
Flowers, scarves, t-shirts and more were laid outside the stadium in the chairman’s memory. Leicester players and the manager made the 6000 mile trip to the funeral in Bangkok at the conclusion of a match and then yesterday the city came together in tribute.
50,000 fans walked from Leicester city centre to the King Power Stadium before the game yesterday as a mark of respect. There was two minutes of silence prior to kick-off and a video of the former owner was shown inside the stadium.
Afterwards the entire club and the owner’s son thanked all sections of the stadium as the fans wearing special shirts and holding up scarves clapped along. Only a Grinch wouldn’t have been moved by the events.
The match was a rather drab 0-0, but on this day the result was of no consequence. It was all about a community and a club that were united as one.
As a licensed New York City tour guide, I regularly introduce visitors to the history of NYC. As most people already know, New York was the city where over 20 million people first stepped foot in to the United States between 1855-1954.
I am also a huge football/soccer fan. That’s what led me to explore the idea of combining a history tour of New York immigrants and the impact that these newcomers had on the growth of soccer in New York. I was surprised by the amount of history there is for the sport of soccer in New York.
Part of the reason that immigrants came to New York was for the opportunity to work and provide for their families. Manhattan’s Lower East Side was a major center of garment manufacturing. Even bigger was the Harrison/Kearny area of northern New Jersey. It was one of the earliest centers for the sport in 19th century America.
Immigrant communities were drawn to this rapidly growing industrial region for job opportunities. These workers brought with them their love for soccer as well. Teams were formed by the various textile and garment plants scattered throughout the area and across the river from New York.
Amateur teams were springing up in other industrial regions such as New England and Philadelphia. This led to the organization of the American Football Association in 1884.
In 1885 the American Football Challenge Cup was established with thirteen teams involved; including New York Thistles, New York FC, Paterson FC, O. N. T. of Kearny, and teams from Newark, Connecticut and Fall River, Massachusetts.
This was the first non-league organizing body for the sport in the United States. It lasted until 1925 as soccer continued to grow throughout the country and competing organizations sprang up.
O. N. T. (short for Our New Thread defeated New York FC to win the first title in April 1885.
The sport of soccer continues to grow in popularity here in the states, but for years I’ve had to defend my love of the sport to those that deemed it “boring”.
I used to work at the country’s number one rated sports radio station here in New York and would be mocked and ignored by the station’s “personalities” that believed they knew what the sports fan wanted to see and hear about…and according to these “experts” it wasn’t soccer.
My vindication keeps growing as the the European and world leagues now get plenty of air time on television, draw in crowds at bars and MLS continues to expand. The league started in 1996 with ten teams and is now finishing its 23rd season with 23 teams. While the level of play is not up there with the best leagues in Europe, you cannot deny that MLS is making major inroads on the US sports landscape.
At the same time interest in the World Cup and leagues like La Liga, the Premier League, the Bundesliga and Serie A continues to grow. Ronaldo and Messi are household names to young sports fans.
I’m a bit of an NFL football fan. My team is the hapless New York Jets. However, I found my interest declining as I watched more and more of the “real” football…a.k.a. soccer. The action in soccer doesn’t stop for time outs and commercials like other sports. The clock keeps running. The athletes on the pitch are in top shape and run for close to 90 minutes.
Many non fans complain that there isn’t enough scoring. However, I don’t think they realize that defense is a part of the game to be admired and that a hard fought 0-0 game can actually be quite exciting (if you understand the game). Compare that to American football.
My favorite source to prove my point is this 2010 article from the Wall Street Journal. The study revealed that an average NFL game contained just 11 minutes of actual action. In other words, a game that is comprised of 60 minutes on the clock and takes over three hours to broadcast consists of JUST 11 MINUTES OF ACTION. Fans that say American football is more exciting than soccer should consider the following from this study:
They are actually watching one hour of commercials
As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps.
56% of the broadcast is showing replays.
NFL football is the rare time based sport where it's common for the clock to run for long periods of time while nothing is happening.
Once again NFL fans see just 11 minutes of action per game.
Of course to each their own, but my message to those quick to dismiss soccer as boring, is don’t knock it unless you try it…and maybe fans can use all those commercial times outs during NFL games to tune in to see some real football.
It’s pretty obvious that I am an Arsenal fan. Over the years there have been so many amazing goals that it would be nearly impossible to figure out a top 10 or even a top 20. Regardless, there was a goal this weekend in Arsenal’s 1-5 romp at Fulham that was unlike any I’ve ever seen before.
I’ll set the scene first. In the 67th minute of the second half, Arsenal had a dominating 1-3 lead. Aaron Ramsey was introduced as a sub for Alex Iwobi. 39 seconds later, Arsenal had its 4th goal of the match.
The match commentators explained it best when they said, “that was a goal the Harlem Globetrotters would be proud of.”
Ramsey started the run which included 15 touches. Some of them were perfectly passed headers, passes and the actual goal itself was a deftly touched back heel by Ramsey himself. This one will be on highlight reels for years to come. See for yourself:
That goal was just a part of what was an amazing team performance. Two goals apiece from the striking partnership that is Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sandwiched the Ramsey goal. In the end it was Arsenal’s ninth win in a row in all competitions. Not bad for a club the media and pundits were saying are “in crisis” at the beginning of the new season.
I have been a huge football/soccer fan since being introduced to the English Premier League in the late 90’s. Believe it or not, back then it wasn’t so easy to keep up with the sport. The games weren’t on local television and there were just a handful of pubs that showed matches from Europe and other top world leagues. The place to go back then was hands down Nevada Smiths. The place’s slogan said it all, “where football is religion”.
I had some friends from Ireland living in New York at the time that were big Manchester United fans. They invited me to go watch a match between United and Arsenal. I’ll never forget showing up at Nevada Smith’s at 7AM for a 12PM UK time kick off. Not only was the place packed, it was jumping. Fans from both sides were there singing, chanting and ready for the match. Of course there were some beverages being served at this early hour and there was a communal feeling in the air. It was hard not to get hooked.
The popularity of the sport has grown significantly since then and the number of matches that fans can now watch from home is huge. Regardless, it’s still great to get together with fellow fans and watch the match together.
Nevada Smiths is long gone, but its founder Jack Keane now runs a midtown location called The Football Factory where the list of matches and leagues shown is impressive.
This 2014 article from the UK’s The Guardian explains how the sports popularity here in NYC has grown over the years. When your ready, join us for a tour and then it’s off to the pub!
Manchester United fans celebrating a goal from Ryan Giggs as the Red Devils went on to defeat Wigan and wrap up the 2008 Premier League title.