How this year’s Barclay’s Premier League season might help soccer grow in America.
By Aidan Lannom
People love to root for the underdog in sports. Especially in the United States, where we develop a hatred of constantly successful teams like the Yankees, Patriots and Lakers and will cheer for whoever can beat them. However, in world football (known as soccer here), there hasn’t been anyone to root for. In the world’s two best leagues, the BPL (Barclay’s Premier League in England) and La Liga (Spain’s top league) there has been little to no competition against the top teams. However this year was far different than any other in the BPL.
At the end of the 2014-15 season Leicester City was on the brink of being relegated from the BPL to the Football League Championship. They won 7 of their last 9 games to end the season and avoid relegation. It was an amazing finish to the season some even saying it was a miracle that they didn’t get relegated. Pundits and fans alike thought that they would have to perform similarly if they wanted to avoid relegation in the upcoming 2015-16 season. Before the start of the new season Leicester was given 5000 to 1 odds of winning the Premier League. No one in the world of football thought that had a chance at the title, many thinking they would be relegated.
Fast forward to now Leicester City are champions of the BPL and enter the summer preparing not just for the upcoming league season but also the Champions League where they might have to face the likes of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, considered the two best teams in the world. Leicester pulled off possibly the most impressive Cinderella story of all time. There has never been a team to pull off such a feat. Even the 76ers had better odds of winning the NBA championship at 200 to 1.
Now what does this mean for soccer in the U.S.? Soccer has been on the rise since the 2014 World Cup and even more so since the women’s team won the World Cup last summer but still lacks a strong league. The appreciation for the men’s and women’s national teams have been outstanding but it has not yet transitioned into creating a league that has clubs that compete with the rest of the world. With Leicester’s success this season we might see a change in this.
Seeing that the world of soccer is no longer being dominated by a small group of teams, the MLS and U.S. soccer could begin to compete at the highest level. We as a nation have more reason to believe that we can compete at the highest level and with success our confidence will grow.
We have already seen the MLS (Major League Soccer) grow in some popularity over the last few years as well as teams signing players who were once considered some of the best players in the world. It is clear that soccer has a bright future here in the U.S. as well as across the world. As the popularity grows, so will the strength of our national and club teams and it could all be catalyzed the recent success of underdogs in world football.