This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

U.S. Soccer Is Way Bigger Than You Think

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Americans don't watch soccer and never will. Nobody in this country cares about soccer. Call me when it's football/baseball/basketball season.

These sentences and more will be scrawled by retrograde trolls who've not only lived in a vacuum for the past few decades or so, but who are willing to leave millions of dollar of soccer fan spending on the table as the sport grows here. Networks, sponsors and even youth soccer -- which is changing vastly from the cluster-chasing, orange-slicing, participation-trophy-awarding stereotype its critics on all sides have formed -- are all invested in soccer's future here and are making soccer worth the nation's attention well beyond the World Cup.

We could fill a few pages on soccer's U.S. resurgence, as many have, but in the context of business it behooves us to break it down to the numbers:

3.02 million: That's how many kids participated in U.S. Youth Soccer alone in 2012. That's a giant leap from the 1.6 million that took part in 1990, and it doesn't include the hundreds of thousands who play in other organizations such as the 650,000-strong American Youth Soccer Organization.

That said, it's a number that hasn't really grown all that much since 2000 and has actually fallen from its pre-recession peak of 3.15 million in 2008. Then again, all of youth sports have seen a decline in the U.S. during that period. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association Trade Group, participation in baseball, football, soccer and basketball fell a combined 4% between 2008 and 2012. Tackle football lost 5.4% of its participants during that span, while baseball and basketball participation dropped 7% to 8%. So why is soccer's 3 million still a good thing?

79: That's the number of U.S. Soccer Development Academy facilities that have sprung up since the organization was founded in 2007 -- just a year after the U.S. Men's National Team's three-and-out performance at the 2006 World Cup.

The dedicated academy system is spread out over three divisions -- U-13/14, U-15/16 and U-17/18 -- and operates on a 10-month schedule that starts in September and ends in June or July. Instead of leaving young players in youth, high school or college programs, the academies acclimate them to professional soccer conditions and teach them the realities of the global game. Many are attached to Major League Soccer teams, but others have affiliations with professional squads around the world. Andromeda FC in Plano, Texas, is partnered with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, while Crossfire Premier in Redmond, Wash., has ties to Italian Serie A club Inter Milan. While critics feel the academies are killing high school and college soccer, that may not be such a bad thing. When U.S. Men's National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected this year's roster for the U.S. men's U18 team, 14 players were products of the academy system. It's creating not only better players, but more competitive U.S. soccer.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,654.27 -226.09 -1.34%
S&P 500 1,941.75 -28.32 -1.44%
NASDAQ 4,389.7050 -73.1970 -1.64%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs