It is almost 20 years since Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm rose to national fame and brought women’s soccer to the attention of the country and that’s a relatively short time for the U.S. women’s national soccer team to have gone on to win the world title three times.
Winning a World Cup Final in any sport is an achievement, but for soccer the tournament is truly the highest accolade in the sport.
The success of the national side has given women’s and men’s soccer a real boost around the country, so where are the best hotspots to be found?
The U.S. women’s national team won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in such a decisive way that many commentators were surprised at their level of domination over other teams.
As a record 20.35 million viewers watched the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on TV at home, it’s no wonder that more and more people are going out and watching games in person around the country.
The World Cup bump that has followed for women’s soccer was in full effect when more than 21,000 fans watched a National Women’s Soccer League match between the Thorns at home in Portland to fierce rivals Seattle Reign. The occasion was the second-largest crowd ever to watch a professional women’s league game in the whole of the United States. The match saw The Thorns’ Rachel Van Hollebeke battling against the Reign’s Megan Rapinoe in one of the best matches of the N.W.S.L.’s season.
“Once you go to a game in Seattle — you could be in London, you could be in Germany — the environment here just blows you away,” Ted Smith, the co-host of The Men’s Room on 99.9 FM KISW in Seattle recently explained.
As well as the aforementioned women’s team Seattle Reign, the Sounders have a loyal and very vocal set of supporters in the city. The passionate crowds give the Sounders a home advantage much in the tradition of the far longer established European and South American leagues.
The American Soccer League, which ended in 1931, was the first big explosion of soccer in the US and led to St. Louis becoming a leading city for the sport.
In fact, no other city can boast a bigger representation in the National Soccer Hall of Fame
than St. Louis’ impressive count of 28. Carrying on the tradition, Saint Louis University alumni have played in the last six World Cups.
The Los Angeles area is well known for producing some of the best home grown soccer talent in America, with midfielder Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Nick Rimando being notable examples.
Cal South has won more national titles than 40 other state associations all together and four members of the U.S. women’s team that won gold in the 2012 London Olympics were Cal South alumni.
California as a whole
Of course you would expect California to be up there with the best of them, and the prominence of soccer in the State is plain for all to see as the Cal South success shows. However, girls and young women in the State are carrying the flag for the sport with real enthusiasm, particularly at high school level. Maisie Lynton was on the girls’ soccer team at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica. Now even more females are being drawn to the soccer pitch in the wake of Women’s Team USA’s World Cup victory.
USA takes the ball
Some countries where soccer has a much longer and more established history and tradition see it being considered almost solely as a male dominated sport, at least until recently. It is very much to the credit of the USA that both men and women can now compete and participate as supporters in an equal way.