I readily admit soccer is the biggest sport on earth by FAR but not in America. When even some mainstream American sports are having problems there is no room for soccer to grow THAT big.
If soccer was going to be big it would've happened a LONG time ago. League soccer will never be big in the USA however the World Cup does really captivate the nation! The womens more so than the men. In 1999 over 80,000 showed up to see the USWNT on a reguar basis, ratings were great, and Brandi Chastain was on the cover of Time magazine! In the 2000s Hope Solo was on the cover of SI.
The reality is if you ask most Americans what MLS is they will tell you it's the service realtors use for their listings!
If/when, the best players in the world stay here or come here to play, then you'll see even more interest.
The fact is, is that MLS is the minor leagues for the big leagues overseas.
If the best soccer in the world were being played here, then you'd see a huge jump in attendance.
Americans like soccer...but like most minor leagues, the draw is only so-so.
MLB, NFL, NHL...those are the best leagues in the world. The best players in the world want to play in our leagues. If we can't have the best players, then blah...we don't really care about it unless it's a world cup or Olympics situation where we are competing against the best teams in the world in a worldwide competition. Then we can be the best by beating the best. But winning the MLS cup is like winning a minor league championship. Americans know it's not the best league, so it's hard to get to rah-rah behind it.
The reason why the women's team captivated the nation, was because they were among the best in the world. They were the team to beat. That there proves that if we have elite level talent, we'll watch it.
If our men's team was among the best (they are good...pretty damn good, but they aren't elite), they'd draw bigger than the women ever have. If the men's team made it to the World Cup final? Are you kidding me? This nation would be going nuts.
MLS is doing ok. And I'm pulling for it. If St. Louis had a team, I'd follow it hard. I love soccer, but it's hard to follow since sports outlets don't really cover it...and it's not front page stuff...so it gets buried and lost. Put a team in St. Louis and I'll get behind it. I'll go the games.
Soccer was big here in St. Louis. The Steamers outdrew the Blues for a few years back in their heyday. They were a big deal here.
I don't think it's near as popular here as it was 30 years ago. But I can see that changing easily if we were to get an MLS team.