Soccer in the United States has long been popular amongst all ages and it is the most popular recreational sport for both boys and girls, and according to History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game, has been so for about 25 years. This late 20th century boom is attributed for the most part to the existence of the North American Soccer League from 1967 to 1984, and the New York Cosmos, its marquee team which included among its players stellar names like Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer.
Professional soccer has expanded since the mid-1990s, especially since the 1994 FIFA World Cup which was hosted in the United States for the first time. Both the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cups were also held in the U.S., and the United States women's national team is one of the best in the world. Their home crowd of over 90,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California for the 1999 World Cup Final remains the largest crowd in the world ever to witness any women's sporting event.
More and more Americans, having played the game in their youth are now avid spectators. Most cities with Major League Soccer teams have large fan bases. In addition, as Latin American immigration is increasing overall in the entire nation, so is the popularity of soccer.
The United States men's national soccer team
is the national soccer
team of the United States
for men and is controlled by the United States Soccer Federation
. Playing their first ever match in 1885 against Canada
and winning their first ever official international in 1916 against Sweden
; the team also have won an Olympic Silver and Bronze medal in the sport at the 1904 Summer Olympics
The United States also had the honour of winning the first ever game to be played in the inaugural FIFA World Cup, defeating Belgium 3–0 and Bert Patenaude scored the first ever hat-trick at the finals in a 3–0 win against Paraguay. The third-place finishing position at this competition remains their best World Cup result.
Closer to home, the United States has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup on four occasions (in 1991, 2002, 2005 and 2007) and was awarded the honour of hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup. This latter event led to the increase in public interest in the game in the USA which resulted in the creation of the current leagues and the strengthening of the national team.