Dan Dingo History 447
It’s the world’s game. It is a universal language spoken with an unassuming elegance. Soccer’s simplicity means that the only perquisite to be able to partake in this global bilingual fraternity is having a ball at your feet, and the drive to put it into the back of a net. Then why has it taken the better part of a century for the United States of America to catch up with the rest of the world’s passion for soccer? As I delve into the history of the game in North America I will also attempt to answer some of the social, political and economic reasons of why soccer has taken a back seat in our country’s sporting culture. When asked to summarize our nation’s soccer history David Wangerin (author of one of the most recent and complete books on the subject) spoke candidly; he said “history of soccer in the U.S. is more of a story of what didn’t happen than what did… American soccer has no Babe Ruth but, most certainly has a history, ill preserved and half forgotten.” While the story in its entirety is entirely too long to tell I have structured this essay into two parts, each highlighting key turning points in the chronology of the history of soccer in the United States. Starting with the collegiate history of the sport in the 1950’s, a period of time that I found to my surprise is closely intertwined with Penn State University. Subsequently I will then elaborate on our nation’s two attempts (the MLS and NASL) at forming a competitive domestic league, and will compare and contrast the success of the two.
Before the post-World War Two era soccer was very much an underground movement. It was a byproduct of the large amounts of immigrants that were entering our country at the time. Its formative center was in the Northeast, but was preferred and played in urban ethnic ghettoes before it started...
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