For ages countries like England, Spain and Italy have been taking the proverbial piss out of soccer in the United States.
They laugh at our men’s national team as we struggle to qualify for World Cups in a CONCACAF group that lacks the quality of European competition. They laugh at our domestic league, equating it to the second or third divisions of European football. And they discount our incredible achievements in the women’s game where we have won two World Cups and four Olympic gold medals.
But it’s all good.
Because we, as Americans, know it’s coming.
We know that soccer is set to explode in America.
Whether its Major League Soccer expanding from 10 clubs in 2004 to 19 in 2012, five Premier League clubs being purchased by American business owners, or the World Cup and Premier League broadcast rights packages tripling in value between offerings, the writing is on the wall: America is on the precipice of becoming a soccer-crazed nation.
And with Tuesday’s announcement that Manchester City and the New York Yankees have combined forces to create New York City Football Club, we have yet another ground-breaking moment in U.S. soccer history.
By forming NYC FC, City and the Yankees have created what is essentially a ‘sister-club’ relationship – an innovative bond between a Premier League and MLS club. The implications are numerous.
First and foremost, it means that two of the world’s richest sports teams, each flush with billions of dollars, now have a vested interest in MLS and U.S. Soccer. This interest will translate to better facilities, coaching, player wages and youth programs. Oh yeah, and that elusive first club academy where players are educated and live together in the mold of La Masia? You better believe that’s now a reality.
Second, the ‘sister-club’ bond represents a definitive player pipeline between the U.S. and England. That means City’s top youth prospects will spend seasons cutting their teeth in MLS. This will help further reduce the league’s stigma of being a retirement hotbed while providing MLS fans with looks at the future stars of European soccer. But the pipeline won’t just flow one way. With City on board our top homegrown youth products will now have a much greater opportunity to make it in England.
Third, the ‘sister-club’ relationship will do wonders for the NYC FC and City brands. Fans in Manchester will be more likely to support NYC FC while fans in New York will have a Premier League club they feel connected to. This translates into greater exposure for MLS in England and the Premier League in America.
The possibilities are endless. Believe it.