Looking at soccer’s popularity in New England

Soccer has its own niche in New England.

On a scorching hot day (game-time temperature 93 degrees) that was better suited for going to the beach, out on a boat or sitting at home in front of a fan or in air conditioning, a respectable crowd still turned out on Saturday afternoon for a friendly between AC Milan (Italy) and Olimpia (Honduras) at Gillette Stadium. It was the first half of a soccer doubleheader with the New England Revolution hosting Sporting Kansas City in the MLS nightcap.

The drawing power of one of Europe’s true superpowers (2nd in Serie A last season, quarterfinalists in the Champions League)-AC Milan-is understandable given all the Italians in New England but Olimpia was a last-minute substitute when Cruziero (Brazil) pulled out because of a scheduling conflict. The bigger question is what makes New England such a well respected soccer market in the United States? Ever since the World Cup in 1994 held sold-out matches at dumpy Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro has been a go-to destination for U.S. national team games (U.S. men vs. Spain last June) and international friendlies (AC Milan vs. Inter Milan in 2009) to name a few examples.

There are a couple possible explanations for why soccer is so popular around here. It is a cliché to say that everyone played the sport when they were younger but in New England, that’s not far from the truth. Believe it or not, Massachusetts Youth Soccer had more registered players than any other state in 2011. With that, kids are getting into the game at a young age and by extension, so do their parents who in some cases coach the youth teams or at least attend many of the games.

The region also produces top end talent in soccer thanks to the proliferation of club teams, summer camps and training programs for serious middle school and high school players. All you need to do is look at a roster of a U.S. college team in any level (Division 1-3 men’s or women’s) to realize that as much as any major sport (outside of maybe hockey or lacrosse), New England is the home to many outstanding soccer players. The weather doesn’t hurt development as much as other sports-namely baseball and football-since indoor soccer is a popular diversion in the winter.

The final element that always helps is the many different cultures that live in New England. The Brazilians and Portuguese are the best examples but it seems like almost all immigrants that find their way to the area, carry a deep affection for what is known as the beautiful game. Venture around Boston or any of the surrounding cities (Somerville, Medford, Chelsea) on a spring, summer or fall weekend and you’re guaranteed to see large soccer games in parks and on local fields. Soccer is something which always connects people to wherever they have come from and that never changes, no matter where life takes you.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.