United States Men's National Soccer Team: 5 Ways to Attract a Bigger Fan Base
Whatever happened to that highly-anticipated soccer revolution that was due to occur just after the 2010 World Cup in the United States?
As soccer fever slowly died back down in the States, so did the overall attendances at USMNT games, with friendlies against even the smallest of rivals containing stands full of fans in the wrong colors.
Watching the USMNT play in front of a primarily Ecuadorian crowd over the weekend got me thinking of what the USSF could do to get the team's popularity up heading into the next World Cup qualifying campaign.
Here are five things that could greatly help support USMNT if they are done correctly. Enjoy!
Bring in More Semi-Americans
There’s no questioning that one of Jurgen Klinsmann’s strongest attributes is his ability to attract foreign talent. So far we have already seen mixed-breed Americans such as Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Timothy Chandler commit their future to the US, with plenty more destined to switch on over in the near future.
One positive part of gaining a semi-American’s commitment is that it draws attention from not just one national fan base, but two. Giuseppe Rossi is a perfect example, who despite choosing to play for Italy, still has thousands of American fans interested in his national duties and giving the FIGC foreign support.
While it may not make a huge difference in the stands, gaining views from foreigners interested in our players should still be looked at as a plus. In the paraphrased words of Tim Howard, “Keep those foreigners coming!”
Expand Media Options
Although media attention has improved over the last couple of years, it really should not be this hard to watch a USMNT game on TV in the modern era. While ESPN does show a fair amount of qualifying games and friendlies, the majority of the team’s schedule is played on FSC or Galavision, networks that more than half of the population don’t even know exist.
It is hard to expand a fan base when you are only reaching a select few, so the USMNT needs to look into enhancing their contracts with big networks such as ESPN and NBC if they have any hope at boosting the American Army. The Soccer revolution has no chance at occurring until some checks get dealt and some papers get signed.
Spread the Location Love
The USSF has done a fairly poor job recently at spreading the games throughout the country. In the past year, Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles have each hosted the Stars and Stripes at least twice, while the birthplace of American soccer (Midwest), tends to see only one or two competitions during a World Cup cycle.
Obviously, the USSF should not try to take significant stadium risks when planning their event schedule, but consistently playing in the same locations plagues the overall growth of the USMNT fan base.
The more rare the USMNT appearance in a specific location, the better chance the team has at attracting a big audience and getting casual fans pumped up for a game.
Here are a few locations that deserve a little more attention from the USSF when they are considering their home games: St. Louis, Chicago, Seattle and Dallas.
Become Fashionably Attractive
Now it may not be the most popular option for traditional USMNT fans, but changing merchandise to attract a younger audience may be exactly what the team needs in order to get to the next level, support wise.
If the USMNT can get Nike to start producing, dare I say it, flat-brim caps, attractive t-shirts, and brand in a way that not only pleases the younger generations, but is accepted by the older ones, the overall support for the team would increase dramatically.
One kid wearing a flat-brim cap in the city might catch the eyes of hundreds of potential fans, who all of a sudden have USMNT logo branded into the back of their brain. While the fashion world continues to move forward, the USMNT can’t get left behind in these upcoming years.
Most Importantly, Win
Does this slide even need an explanation? America is a country that is so accustomed to victory and athletic domination that the USMNT can’t afford to do anything else.
With all the expectations now on the USMNT's shoulders, failing to produce positive results can be detrimental to the fan base. No matter how patriotic someone may be, no one is going to spend their hard-earned cash and time to watch a team that will bring nothing but frustration, especially considering there are so many other entertainment options available.
If the USMNT is upset at the poor attendances, all they have to do is look at their recent results and realize that there is no alternative to winning in this strict sports country.