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What Can Draw More Sports’ Fans Attention to Soccer in New York?

There is no surprise that soccer is the number one sport in the world and is the number one most popular sport in over 226 countries, according to bleacher report. However, in America soccer is only the fourth most popular sport. Soccer has gained plenty of popularity in the last decade and it just recently passed hockey for the fourth most popular start in America, the Daily Mail reported. In New York, soccer is a growing sport, but how can more sports fans be attracted to soccer? 

The Lack of Soccer Highlights on ESPN 

The number one sports channel for all sports in the United States in ESPN. They are the number one source for all sports highlights among the top sports leagues. However, there is a lack of soccer highlights on ESPN, especially from Europe 

Because of the lack of soccer highlights on ESPN, it makes it hard to get sports fans involved in the sport. ESPN does showcase MLS highlights and certain games, but the MLS is nowhere near the popularity of the NFL, NBA, or MLB yet. In general, the MLS is a growing league who hopes to reach the popularity and the skill level as the European leagues.  

The goal for the MLS is to dominate North America before conquering European giants, however it will take some time. The Mexican soccer league of Liga MX has dominated MLS teams in the Concacaf Champions League for several years. The last time an MLS team has won the CONCACAF Champions League was back in 2000 when the LA Galaxy took its only Champions League win. 

Until the MLS reaches that dominating point, attracting the average sports fan to soccer will be a challenge. Though you can view European soccer highlights online, by not displaying them in the number one site for sports in the U.S is a disadvantage to try to get the sport of soccer to be more known. However, users subscribed to ESPN plus can watch La Liga games and Bundesliga games. This gives access to ESPN plus users the chance to check out soccer from one of the top leagues in Europe. 

Urban vs Suburbs 

The problem with getting more sports fans to recognize soccer is the ability to try watching the sport. In the suburbs of Long Island and upstate New York, sports fans are heavy on football, basketball, and hockey. Though soccer is not as popular in the suburbs, it is mostly popular in the urban areas of New York, especially in New York City. 

In the city, there are plenty of popular soccer bars that showcase nothing but soccer games. The most popular one is Football Factory at legends, which is located right by the Empire State Building. By having a soccer bar located in the heart of New York City, it will help attract more fans to attend the bar and watch soccer. Whether it is a Champions League game or a World Cup game, the passion from the fans shown in the bar will increase the interest in other sports fans to follow the sport. 

On Long Island, there are barely any soccer bars, however there are plenty of sports bars that only really show football, basketball, baseball, or hockey. Soccer is not as popular on Long Island than in the city because the sports fans on the island are more closed-minded to the sports they watch compared to the city. People from the city are more open-minded to the sports they watch.  

Because soccer is not talked about too much in major sports outlets like ESPN, it is hard to get the average sports fan to recognize the sport. Showing soccer at more bars and restaurants can be one way to get soccer more exposed to fans. The MLS is televised on Fox Sports, ABC, and ESPN, while the English Premiere league is televised on NBC Sports and USA Network.  

Upcoming World Cup in North America in 2026 

The 2026 World Cup will be held in the North American countries of Canada, USA, and Mexico. With the rise of soccer, this World Cup will shoot up the popularity of soccer in both the United States and in New York.  

The World Cup is one of the most prestige sports tournaments in the world, next to the Olympics. This will be the turning point of getting soccer more popular in America, as well as in New York. This will give the non-soccer fans a chance to watch the sport and become a fan. The 2026 World Cup is especially special because the World Cup will be expanded from 32 team to 48 teams.  

One of the stadiums that may host a few World Cup games is MetLife Stadium, located in the New Jersey-New York City metro area. This will give easy access to people living in New York a chance to go see a World Cup game. The city will also be filled with watch parties that will showcase games and highlights will be presented all over sports news channels. With soccer growing each year, the 2026 World Cup will bring the level of soccer close to the big three sports in the U.S  

New York City Football Club Claiming its First MLS Cup  

Before the inaugural season for NYCFC in 2015, the Red Bulls were the only team that represented New York, though their stadium being in Harrison, NJ. The Red Bulls were part of one of the original teams when the league was first founded back in 1993. Though the team has won a few trophies it its time, it has never won the MLS Cup.  

Because the stadium is in New Jersey, it is hard to attract sports fans to head out to New Jersey to see the Red Bulls. It’s frustrating enough for football fans to go out to MetLife Stadium to see the Jets and the Giants play, it would be even harder to convince them to go out to New Jersey just to see a soccer game. 

In 2010 MLS Commissioner Don Garber wanted an expansion team that would be in the New York City area. English Premier league giants Manchester City F.C, along with the New York Yankees agreed to form a New York City based team that will play home games in New York City, and the team was later founded in May of 2013. 

The creation of NYCFC helped gain more sports fans into following and watching soccer. It helps that NYCFC has been a consistent playoff team since 2016, but also it helps the average sport fan open their mind about other leagues besides the MLS. Also, NYCFC has developed youth teams and has been actively recruiting young girls and boys to pay for its academy teams over the years.  

This past December NYCFC won its first MLS cup, making it the first major sports trophy won for a New York team since 2012. They were recognized by the mayor of New York City, and the whole city was lit light blue for their victory. This victory is only one of the many small steps to help grow soccer in New York. Knowing that NYCFC has a successful sports team, it will attract more sports fans to pay attention and follow the team and eventually follow the sport.  

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