The focus is firmly back on soccer in 2022 as the world’s biggest showcase event in the sport, the World Cup finals, get underway in Qatar later this year. There’s always huge interest in the competition, as highlighted by Fox Sports, whose coverage of the 2018 final broke viewing records across the board.
Those figures promise to be even bigger this year, with the US Men’s National Team looking in good shape ahead of the tournament. Qualification was secured this week, despite a 2-0 defeat in Costa Rica, meaning the disappointment of failing to reach Russia 2018 is well and truly behind the players. Although our men’s soccer team is not among the favorites to win the competition in the Ladbrokes betting markets, they will at least be there, hoping to progress beyond the group stages as they did in 2010 and 2014. Even if they fail, the fact they’re on the big stage means soccer is likely to become a major interest for US sports fans this winter.
With soccer likely to see a rise in interest, you may wish to look for a local team to follow in preparation. If so, where can you see the best pro soccer teams here in California?
Major League Soccer is the premier soccer competition in the US. Since kicking off in 1996, MLS has grown in popularity yearly, both with fans and players. Some of the best players worldwide consider the league a great place to play, and we’ve seen some of those stars feature for our clubs here in The Golden State.
International superstars David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are just two of the names who cite LA Galaxy, as their former club. Due to being able to attract players of that calibre to California, it’s meant that the Galaxy have become one of the most successful franchises in the MLS, as they’ve won the MLS Cup five times. It’s due to these previous results that they’re always well supported and constantly tipped for the top year after year.
Los Angeles FC is one of the newer teams in the league, and not only do they have former USMNT star Chris Cherundolo as head coach, they also have one of the league’s current star players on their roster. Mexican international forward Carlos Vela is prolific in front of goal for LAFC; he’s scored over 60 goals in just 90 appearances since joining the club in 2018 and has previously been named the league’s MVP.
San Jose is the home of the Earthquakes, who have won two MLS Cup titles so far. However, they’ve also picked up the not so grand accolade of being previous holders of the MLS Wooden Spoon, given to the club who finished bottom of the league, so you could say it’s never boring in San Jose! One to watch for the Quakes is Cade Cowell who earned the accolade of Young Player of the Year in 2021 and has recently made his debut for the US Men’s National Team.
Many would argue that the National Women’s Soccer League is the top league for the women’s game around the world. It’s a valid comment, too, as the US Women’s National Team are the reigning World Cup holders. Women’s soccer is huge here in the US, with viewing figures for the women’s team’s success higher than those seen at the men’s competition a year earlier. According to CNBC, 22% more people watched Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan defeat the Netherlands than the number who watched the men’s final a year earlier when France overcame Croatia.
We’ve got two women’s teams to watch here in California that feature in the 12-team professional league. Angel City is the newest established team in the league based in LA and plays their games at the home of Los Angeles FC, the Banc of California Stadium, and San Diego Wave, who play their games at San Diego State University.
The USL is another men’s professional league here in the US, but it sits underneath the MLS in terms of hierarchy. While it isn’t as widely recognized as its ‘bigger sibling’, the USL still holds much interest here in California as there are seven teams across the state who feature on its roster. We have the honor of being the state that is the home of the current champions of the league, Orange County SC, who play their games in Irvine and are managed by former English Premier League soccer player Richard Chaplow.
LA Galaxy II, whose home is in Carson, is the MLS franchise’s reserve team. Also, there’s San Diego Loyal SC, Sacramento Republic, Oakland Roots, and Monteray Bay FC from Seaside. Last but no means least, we’ve got Central Valley Fuego FC, who hails from Fresno and are the newest team from the state, and they play in the USL League One, which sits below the USL.
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