FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Ahead of Manchester United's friendly against the New England Revolution, manager Sir Alex Ferguson showed respect for the direction of soccer in the United States. So much so, that he believes “there are unbelievable possibilities” in the nation.
Ferguson thinks American soccer will continue to grow and improve due to the coaching, sports science and first-class facilities. Right now, Major League Soccer is the elite league in the U.S., but Ferguson could see multiple more form in the future.
Ferguson, perhaps the most respected soccer manager of all time, once looked at the size of the U.S. as a negative when looking at the possibility for growth for U.S. leagues, but as long as interest in soccer continues to increase, he doesn’t see why multiple leagues wouldn’t work.
“I always thought the problem would be the size of the country. Traveling from Boston to Los Angeles is a long haul,” said Ferguson. “But in Brazil they have two leagues. They could easily do that in the United States if it takes off, if they got more clubs involved, and more soccer teams they could split the leagues.”
Friendlies against some of the world’s biggest clubs such as Ferguson’s United has drawn new fans to the sport and Ferguson has seen firsthand how much soccer in America has grown over the last 10 years. He even watched his team lose to the Kansas City Wizards last summer in front of a packed house at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We experienced it last season and we have seen it with the rise in United States soccer,” he said.
The possibilities are there for American soccer, but only if the passion is substantial. Currently, MLS is watching its attendance figures expand, but it is still far behind the United States’ four major sports - MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA.
In fact, the potential of soccer was shown during last year’s World Cup, which drew higher TV ratings than the NBA Finals during the U.S. men’s team against Ghana in the knockout stage.
“There are unbelievable possibilities for the United States,” Ferguson said.
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