Soccer has not always been the most popular sports game in the US. Generally, interest waxes and wanes, with people enjoying the Olympics or World Cup events. However, over the last decade, things have started to change, and MLS is rapidly becoming one of the most popular sporting events in the US.
How Was the MLS Grown in the US over the Past Decade?
Change in Legislation
One of the reasons that it is becoming increasingly popular is down to the legislative changes in sportsbook betting in the United States. With more and more states legalising and opening up access to sports betting, online sites like bet365 in New Jersey have been able to promote MLS. The legalisation change was perfectly timed, although by accident, to coincide with a rise in popularity that happened for many different reasons.
US-Based Teams Increasing
Back in 1996, they were only ten teams participating in Major League Soccer. This has now changed, and in 2022, there will be 28 teams and three from Canada taking part. This created a knock-on effect of stadium construction and facilities for training, and in Las Vegas, a temperature-controlled environment stadium has begun construction.
Discussions are also underway about providing staff housing, and of course, all of these activities will increase employment opportunities.
World Cup 2022
Although the United States was knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands in a 3-1 match, the interest and, therefore, the number of people watching was significant. The USA played four games in the tournament.
They managed to win 1-0 against Iran and drew against Wales with a 1-1 finish and met England with another impressive draw against a team favourited to win, with a goalless match. In 1986 the team managed a respectable third place in the World Cup, in which Argentina won and Germany was second.
When former Manchester United and England star player David Beckham moved to the United States, he started playing in the MLS. He had a massive following before he even arrived, and this only increased as people turned out to watch him.
His influence alone was responsible for the construction of many football fields across the country, and it started a football revolution in Latin America. By March 2022, statistics showed that soccer had become the most popular sport for children and young adults aged 12 to 24 in Hispanic America. There is also a significant increase in American children aged 6 to 17 who are also struck on the MLS.
Of course, when anything becomes popular other industries like to get in on the act, and that means that MLS and other soccer are now more widely broadcast across the leading sports channels. The broadcast hours for the Premier League, Champions League, Bundesliga, and La Liga have all increased dramatically.
This diversity in matches across the world, as well as grassroots games, have ensured that soccer has become increasingly popular, and therefore, MLS has benefited from this growth and seen an enormous explosion of its own.