Report: Soccer Overtakes Hockey in Popularity Among American Viewers

Could it surpass baseball next?

The Portland Timbers react to a game equalizing goal by Portland Timbers forward Felipe Mora, sitting, in stoppage time during the MLS Cup Final between the Portland Timbers and New York City FC.
The Portland Timbers react to a game equalizing goal by forward Felipe Mora (sitting) in stoppage time during the MLS Cup Final against New York City FC.
Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty

If you read enough about soccer’s history in the United States, you may notice that some pundits have long predicted that it would become the nation’s “sport of the future.” This has been going on for decades now, and soccer still hasn’t become the dominant sport in the country. It is working its way up, though — the Daily Mail recently cited a new Sportsmail study indicating that soccer has overtaken hockey as the fourth most popular sport in the U.S. (with baseball, basketball and football in the top three spots).

The full article is well worth reviewing, though some of the statistics are open to interpretation. For instance, the charts shown include the Olympics alongside specific sports like soccer and football, and popularity is gauged by “What [people] say they like.” Additionally, it appears team sports are the focus of the report as golf and NASCAR are noticeably absent.

And while it’s a good thing to see soccer’s profile growing, it’s also partially indicative of the breadth of soccer, which is a global game in a way few other sports are.

Ask five American football (or basketball, or hockey) fans who their favorite pro teams are and you’ll likely hear five different NFL (or NBA, or NHL) clubs in response. Ask a comparable question to five American soccer fans and you might well be answered with teams that play in the Premier League, Liga MX, the Bundesliga, Major League Soccer and the Argentine Primera División. Or five different leagues. Or five different divisions.

That global reach is undeniably a boon to soccer as a whole, but it can make the process of entry into the sport a little challenging for some stateside viewers. But there are plenty of reasons for American soccer fans to be enthusiastic besides this poll — the USWNT remains dominant, the USMNT is looking as strong as it’s ever been, the domestic leagues are improving their quality of play and the World Cup is returning to North America in 2026. Will baseball be the next sport soccer overtakes in popularity? It’s not out of the question.

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