The United States of Soccer: MLS and the Rise of American Soccer Fandom
Making its debut in 1996, two years after the American-hosted World Cup that still holds the record for highest per-match attendance, Major League Soccer’s first task was to lower expectations. Without any soccer-specific stadiums, the league initially played its games in cavernous football stadiums it had no hope of filling. But teams were still able to attract small groups of hardcore fans ready to support a hometown team. Phil West’s The United States of Soccer aims to show how the league and its supporters have evolved in conjunction with one another.
Except Mr. West can’t seem to decide what exactly the book’s focus is. He teases interesting questions, like how the league’s summer season would interfere with the World Cup or how the national team’s supporters influenced MLS fans, but also, maddeningly, he insists on listing the final scores of too many individual matches. And although Mr. West is smart enough to let many of MLS’s supporters, executives, and former players speak for themselves, he too often lets them do all the talking, failing to provide any additional insight of his own between lengthy quotes. The effect is that Mr. West seems less like the book’s author than its curator.
The Overlook Press