The US National team performed well in the World Cup and I’m very proud of them. Interest in soccer is on the upswing in the United States with record numbers tuning in to view the World Cup matches. But soccer has serious competition among sports fans with college athletics and professional sports leagues well-entrenched. A friend of mine is interested in following a club team and asked my advice as to which team he should support. Here are the issues I would consider:
1. Support a team you can watch on television or the internet. Fox Soccer Channel, Gol TV and ESPN have great content. Whether you choose a Major League Soccer (MLS) team or a European team, it’s more fun to follow them if you can watch them play occasionally.
2. Consider supporting teams with players you already know. The players on the US National Team play their club soccer in the MLS and in Europe. Tim Howard (our goalkeeper who plays for Everton in the English Premier League) has been one of my favorite players for years. When he moved from the New York Metrostars (now the Red Bulls in the MLS) to Manchester United in 2003, I became a United fan and have been ever since. If a particular player really stood out for you during this World Cup, learn about the team he plays for.
3. The best leagues have the best players and that’s what makes soccer exciting. The World Cup showcased the best and the highest paid players in the world. These men play their club soccer in the English Premier League, La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy) and the Bundesliga (Germany). I prefer the English Premier League. I’m not alone. It’s the most televised sports league in the world.
4. Learn about the history of the club. Most European club soccer teams have been around a long time and have a lot of distinctive character. ESPN Soccernet, Four Four Two, Wikipedia and countless other websites have content on club teams.
5. If you have a local soccer team, support them. The MLS is expanding. I love Manchester United and can’t conceive of not supporting them, but if Atlanta had a team, I would follow them as well.