Soccer

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Posted by pompos 03/21/2009 @ 16:12

Tags : soccer, sports, beijing 2008, olympics, aisl, major league soccer, misl

News headlines
Mexico hopes for another international hit with soccer drama 'Rudo ... - Visalia Times-Delta
“Rudo Y Cursi” tells the story of two half-brothers who are discovered by an unscrupulous soccer scout and then find fame and fortune in sprawling and imposing Mexico City. Full of biting humor about corruption in Mexico City's professional soccer...
Boys soccer roundup: Shorecrest, Lakeside punch state tickets - Seattle Times
Lakeside edged Bainbridge 2-1 and Shorecrest blanked Mount Vernon 3-0 to earn trips to the Class 3A boys soccer state playoffs. MOUNT VERNON — Jonathan Cho scored two second-half goals and assisted on a third as Shorecrest rolled past Mount Vernon 3-0...
Regents Approve Building of New Soccer Stadium - MGoBlue
Work will begin immediately on the design of a new University of Michigan soccer stadium, following Board of Regents approval of the project during today's (Thursday, May 14) meeting in Dearborn. The stadium will be built on the site of the current...
Ex-soccer coach Kaplan sentenced for child abuse - Lincoln Journal Star
By LORI PILGER / Lincoln Journal Star A district judge sentenced an ex-Lincoln soccer coach to eight to 24 years in prison Friday for subjecting boys to abuse to satisfy a fetish. Sanford Kaplan, 58, stood and said: “I want to sincerely express my...
Hershey, Palmyra girls' soccer find silver lining in postseason losses - PennLive.com
(JOHN C. WHITEHEAD/The Patriot-News) The disappointing realities of highly competitive high school girls' soccer hit home for both Palmyra and Hershey in late-season losses recently. Palmyra's season came to an end Monday night with a 1-0 loss to...
Big East Soccer Champs USF Reveil 2009 Schedule - WCTV
Tampa, FL - Head coach George Kiefer and the University of South Florida men's soccer team is proud to unveil their 2009 schedule. USF is seeking its third-straight postseason appearance and its 14th berth in the NCAA Tournament....
Soccer: Scouts top Cougars in NSC title game - Vernon Hills Review
After 40 minutes of frustration, the Lake Forest High School soccer team needed less than four minutes to put away Vernon Hills in the NSC championship game. Nicole Lipp scored both goals, finding the net 1:30 into the second half and again at the 3:42...
Women´s Soccer Signs Seven for 2009 Season - St. Mary's University
SAN ANTONIO—St. Mary's University women's soccer coach Corwyn Ritch announced on Friday the signing of seven student-athletes to national letters of intent to join the Rattlers, starting with the 2009-2010 season. Flower Mound native Brin Davis; Apex,...
Rockford rolls in OK Red girls soccer tournament opener - MLive.com
ROCKFORD -- The Rockford girls soccer team may not have a shot at the OK Red Conference title, but the Rams certainly are playing like champions. A game after upsetting OK Red leader East Kentwood 1-0 in overtime Monday, the Rams put together an...
Soccer signee named Georgia player of the year - Red and Black
Georgia soccer signee Laura Eddy was named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Georgia, as announced by the organization this week. With being named the Georgia Player of the Year, Eddy, of Marist High School and an Atlanta native,...

Soccer in the United States

Soccer (association football), known simply as football in many countries, has long been a popular sport in the United States. It is the most popular recreational sport for both boys and girls and has been so for about 25 years. This late 20th century boom is attributed for the most part to the existence of the North American Soccer League from 1967 to 1984, and the New York Cosmos, its marquee team which included among its players stellar names like Franz Beckenbauer and Pelé.

However, professional soccer has been less popular in the United States than in Latin American, Asian, African or European nations. Its professional first-division league is not as well-attended in general as the major leagues of American football, baseball or basketball, but Major League Soccer is also much younger, and has far fewer teams. Major League Soccer debuted in 1996, while other major U.S. leagues have each existed since the first half of the 20th century.

Although MLS is also much younger than most other countries' first divisions, and has only 14 teams in 2008, they are already the 12th most-attended premier division in the entire world . In 2006, MLS broke its all-time record for attendance at a regular-season match, which saw 92,650 spectators fill the Los Angeles Coliseum on a Sunday in August ; although that claim is somewhat misattributed to the MLS game as it was one of two games played that night, the second being a match between two power-houses of the Spanish speaking soccer world: FC Barcelona and CD Guadalajara.

In 2007, with the arrival of international superstar player such as David Beckham, attendance records for specific MLS teams and stadiums continue to rise. Additionally, the US and Mexico national teams have been playing in front of crowds in excess of 60,000 in the U.S. in recent years, and have also broken several stadium, city, and state attendance records for matches held in the past five years. Television viewership of soccer in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with major sports networks regularly covering games in some fashion and several other channels dedicated mostly or entirely to the sport.

Until recently, American soccer was more of a regional phenomenon than it is today. Soccer flourished in hotbeds such as New Jersey, New York, St. Louis, Southern California, and in areas with large immigrant populations that grew up with the game in their homelands. But soccer is now gradually gaining popularity all over the country, partially due to youth programs, the creation of a Major League Soccer as a high quality professional league, and the recent success of the men's and women's national teams.

It is often claimed that the Oneida Football Club of Boston, Massachusetts, founded in 1862 was the first club to play soccer outside Britain. However, the club could not have been playing soccer, as they were formed before the English Football Association (FA) formulated the rules; it is not known what rules the club used, and it broke up within the space of a few years. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the club is often credited with inventing the "Boston Game", which both allowed players to kick a round ball along the ground, and to pick it up and run with it.

The first U.S. match known to have been inspired by FA rules was a game between Princeton University and Rutgers University on November 6, 1869, which was won by Rutgers 6-4. The FA rules were followed in the Princeton-Rutgers contest: participants were only allowed to kick the ball and each side had 25 players. Other colleges emulated this development, but all of these were converted to rugby by the mid-1870s and would soon become famous as early bastions of American football.

Early soccer leagues in the U.S. mostly used the name "football", for example: the American Football Association (founded in 1884), the American Amateur Football Association (1893), the American League of Professional Football (1894), the National Association Foot Ball League (1895), and the Southern New England Football League (1914). However, the word "soccer" was beginning to catch on, and the St Louis Soccer League was a significant regional competition between 1907 and 1939. What is now the United States Soccer Federation was originally the U.S. Football Association, formed in 1913 by the merger of the American Football Association and the American Amateur Football Association. The governing body of the sport in the U.S. did not have the word soccer in its name until 1945, when it became the U.S. Soccer Football Association. It did not drop the word football from its name until 1974, when it became the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Two more soccer leagues were started in 1967, the United Soccer Association and the National Professional Soccer League. These merged to form the North American Soccer League in 1968, which survived until 1984. The NASL also ran an indoor league in the latter years.

Indoor soccer was a great success in the 1980s to the 90s, in part due to the input of the North American Soccer League. When the NASL folded, other leagues, including the Major Indoor Soccer League filled in to meet the demand. Twenty-five years hence, the current version of MISL exists with nine teams slated for the 2007-2008 season.

There has been a large expansion in the United States since the mid 1990s. This has been attributed to the 1994 FIFA World Cup being played in the United States for the first time, winning the sport more recognition. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the United States team did surprisingly well which also succeeded in winning more converts. Both the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cups were held in the USA, and the United States women's national team is one of the best in the world. They are currently the first-ranked team in the world by FIFA, have won two of the five FIFA Women's World Cups held thus far, and have also won gold medals in three of the four Olympic women's football tournaments held to date. Their home crowd of over 90,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California for the 1999 World Cup Final remains the largest crowd in the world ever to witness any women's sporting event.

A number of leagues have existed, within the United States. Today, the first division pro league is Major League Soccer, which has 13 U.S. teams plus one in Canada as of the 2008 season, with expansion planned for an eventual 18-team table by the 2011 season, according to the league's Commissioner, Don Garber. The United Soccer Leagues contains two divisions of professional teams, with a total of 21 teams, an amateur league, as well as a women's league. The Women's United Soccer Association, an 8-team, fully professional women's league, was founded in 2001 but folded in 2003. The league's founders, however, continued to work to revive the league, and eventually announced plans to launch Women's Professional Soccer in 2009; it was originally scheduled to launch with 8 teams, but will now start with seven. The Major Indoor Soccer League thrives in a few cities and has been around since 2001. Other professional indoor leagues have existed since at least 1978.

Leagues outside the United States, such as the English Premier League, are highly competitive with MLS for American fans watching the sport on television. Major League matches are all shown live on TV, but so are matches from all around the world. The U.S. even has at least five national networks devoted mostly or completely to the sport, the largest and most-well known being the Fox Soccer Channel, a 24-hour cable soccer channel, consisting of live coverage of the Premier League, Serie A, Major League Soccer, the FA Cup, the US men's national team, CONCACAF club and national team competitions, and other matches, along with news programs and league or team specific programming. Other important channels are Setanta Sports North America, the U.S. version of a channel based in Ireland, and Gol TV, which operates both a Spanish and English language channel. The rise of these media outlets means that soccer fans living in the United States have near constant access to programming about the sport in a way comparable to those living in Europe or Latin America.

The English and Spanish-language telecasts of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Championship Final combined to attract an estimated 16.9 million American viewers, comparable to the average viewership of the 2005 World Series of Major League Baseball. Interestingly, Univision paid more than three times as much for the Spanish-language television rights for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups as Disney's ABC and ESPN paid for the English-language rights to the same competitions. In 2007, the CONCACAF Gold Cup attracted record television viewership, and in the case of one particular group stage match, it was the most-watched primetime program on any network that night among 18-49 males. The Univision telecast of the final between USA and Mexico was the third-most watched Spanish-language program of all-time in the United States, beaten only by two FIFA World Cup finals matches.

One factor contributing to the relatively slow pace of growth in popularity is the competitive nature amongst various American youth sports programs, primarily centered around community clubs in the pre-teen years and secondary school teams thereafter. In some regions of the U.S., high school soccer and American football are both played in the fall and a student generally cannot devote time to both. Until the 1980s, most high schools in the U.S. did not offer soccer at all, and youth soccer programs were extremely rare until the 1970s. Thus, older generations of Americans living today grew up with virtually no exposure to the sport.

In recent decades, more and more pre-teen youth sport organizations have turned to soccer as either a supplement to or a replacement for American football in their programs. This is primarily for economical for a cash-strapped youth organization than American football because far less player protection, fewer officials and less complex field equipment is required, while at the same time the insurance risks associated with American football are far greater. Simultaneously, with increased urbanization, American high schools have grown to the point where most offer both sports in their autumn sports seasons. Due to the rising popularity of youth playing, the term soccer mom is used in North American social, cultural and political discourse, broadly referring to a middle- or upper-middle class woman working and having school-age children.

The result is that the participants of these expanded programs have become today's players with representation in many teams in Europe as well as in Major League Soccer.

Since the early 1990s breakthrough of the US national team, many American players have found opportunities playing soccer in bigger leagues overseas. Among the first Americans to become regulars in European leagues were John Harkes (Sheffield Wednesday), Eric Wynalda (Saarbrücken), Kasey Keller (Borussia Mönchengladbach), and Earnie Stewart (NAC Breda). The following is a partial list of active Americans playing in foreign leagues.

The success of the women's national team has not translated into success for women's professional soccer in the United States. The most successful attempt at a national women's soccer league was the Women's United Soccer Association. It featured successful American players Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, and many other national team stars. The WUSA ceased operation at the end of 2003, but many of those involved in the league are working to restart the league in 2009 under the banner of Women's Professional Soccer, initially with seven teams. The W-League of the United Soccer Leagues and the WPSL have also had some success with teams in cities all across the country.

America's approach to growing the game among women has served as a model for other countries' development programs for women at all levels. The relative lack of attention afforded the women's game in traditional soccer-playing countries may also have contributed to the US's early dominance of the international women's game. Another factor is Title IX, requiring college and public school athletics programs to support men's and women's athletics equally.

The following national teams of U.S. unincorporated territories compete in their corresponding regions. Their governing bodies are either member or associate in the corresponding regional federations. For all but American Samoa, players for these territories are, like most local residents, U.S. citizens. Natives of American Samoa are U.S. nationals, but not U.S. citizens.

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Major League Soccer

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Major League Soccer (MLS) is the top-flight professional soccer league based in the United States and Canada. The league comprises 15 teams, 14 in the U.S. and one in Canada. MLS represents the top tier of the American and Canadian soccer pyramids.

MLS was founded in 1993 as part of the bid for the United States to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The first season took place in 1996 beginning with 10 teams. Seasons run from late March or early April to November, with teams playing 30 regular season games each. Eight teams from the league compete in the post-season MLS Cup Playoffs, which culminate in MLS Cup.

The 2009 Major League Soccer season runs from March 19 to November. The 15 teams in the league are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences — seven in the Eastern Conference, eight in the Western Conference. Each team plays 30 games, evenly divided between home and away matches. Each team competes against every other team twice, home and away, for a total of 28 games. The remaining two games are intra-conference matches, often highlighting geographic and conference rivalries.

MLS has four berths in the CONCACAF Champions League. For CONCACAF Champions League 2009–10, qualifying teams include MLS Cup 2008 and Supporters' Shield winner the Columbus Crew, Supporters' Shield runner-up the Houston Dynamo, MLS Cup runner-up the New York Red Bulls, and 2008 U.S. Open Cup winner D.C. United. Columbus and Houston are automatically seeded into the Group Stage, while New York and D.C. are required to play in the Preliminary Round.

MLS also has four berths in SuperLiga, a competition jointly organized by MLS and Mexico's national football governing body, the FMF. The top four overall teams from the 2008 season, excluding those participating in the Champions League, qualify for SuperLiga 2009. This includes the Chicago Fire, the New England Revolution, the Kansas City Wizards, and Chivas USA.

In 1996, Major League Soccer's original ten teams, the Columbus Crew, D.C. United, the New England Revolution, the NY/NJ MetroStars, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, the Colorado Rapids, the Dallas Burn, the Kansas City Wiz, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Clash, began play. The early years of the league gave rise to the Bruce Arena-led dynasty of D.C. United, which won MLS Cups in three of the league's first four seasons. It took the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998 to end United's stranglehold on MLS Cup. Also joining the league in 1998 was the Miami Fusion.

After its first season, MLS suffered from a decline in attendance. The league's quality was cast into doubt when the U.S. men's national team, made up largely of MLS players, was eliminated in the first round of the 1998 World Cup and finished in last place.

The league began to market itself on the talents of American players, both experienced veterans and fresh talents. Breakout stars like DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan began making names for themselves in MLS before breaking into and starring for the U.S. national team, while established players such as Brian McBride, Eddie Pope, and Clint Mathis continued to prove their value to both their MLS clubs and the U.S. national team.

The league's ongoing financial problems led to the departure of Commissioner Doug Logan after the end of the 1998 season. Don Garber, a former NFL International chief, was hired in his place and his leadership became instrumental to shoring up the league's future. Construction of "soccer-specific" stadiums for the league's teams, largely funded by financiers such as Lamar Hunt and Phil Anschutz, became a point of emphasis to bring fiscal health and ensure the league's survival. Hunt's Columbus Crew Stadium, built in 1999, is often cited as a league model.

On the field, the early wave of international players who had joined MLS at its inception drifted into retirement or moved on to clubs elsewhere in the world. The run-up to the 2002 World Cup saw a gradual shift in the league's philosophy toward the development of American talent, a move that would eventually lead to success for U.S. Soccer.

Despite this movement, declining attendances forced MLS to stop the bleeding by contracting the two Florida franchises, the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion, just a few years after their establishment. This left the league with 10 teams, the same number as when the league began.

The 2002 World Cup, in which the United States unexpectedly made the quarterfinals through wins against Portugal and Mexico, triggered a resurgence in American soccer and MLS. At MLS Cup 2002, held four months after the 2002 World Cup final, set an attendance record as a sellout crowd at Gillette Stadium saw the Los Angeles Galaxy win their first title.

MLS drew international attention in 2004 with the debut of 14-year-old Freddy Adu for D.C. United, who entered the league with much fanfare and was heralded as one of the top prospects in American soccer history.

MLS underwent a significant transition in the years leading up to the 2006 World Cup. After marketing itself on the talents of American players, the league saw some of its homegrown stars depart for more prominent leagues in Europe. Tim Howard, goalkeeper for the MetroStars, was sold to Manchester United in one of the most lucrative contract deals in league history. DaMarcus Beasley of the Chicago Fire left for PSV, while Landon Donovan, on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, was recalled back to Germany. Donovan's stint in Germany was brief; before the start of the 2005 MLS season he was sold back to MLS to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Many more American players, though they factored little in the U.S. national team picture, did make an impact in MLS. In 2005, Jason Kreis of expansion club Real Salt Lake became the first player to score at least 100 career MLS goals. In 2005, the now defunct MLS Reserve Division was created, with each reserve squad playing 12 games, providing valuable playing time to develop non-starters on team rosters.

It was also in this era that MLS expanded for the first time since the contraction of 2001. Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA began play in 2004, with Chivas USA becoming the second club in Los Angeles, sharing The Home Depot Center with the Galaxy. Chivas USA also became the first team in MLS to be directly connected to a foreign club, as they are the sister club of Guadalajara. A year later the San Jose Earthquakes were moved to Texas, becoming the Houston Dynamo, after funding for a soccer-specific stadium could not be found in San Jose. The Dynamo were treated as an expansion franchise, leaving their history behind for the new ownership group that would materialize a few years after the move, in 2008.

Since 2006, Major League Soccer's leadership has taken steps to "internationalize" the league in an effort to raise the level of play. Among the first moves in this regard was the Designated Player Rule, which helped MLS bring international stars into the league, despite the relatively meager MLS salary cap, and the creation of the SuperLiga, which pits the best of MLS against top Mexican clubs in an effort to provide more meaningful competition for both leagues. MLS changed the rules regarding foreign players in the league to allow more of them. However, despite the increasing number of foreign players in MLS, the Houston Dynamo were able to establish a domestic dynasty, winning both the 2006 and 2007 titles with mostly American and Canadian talent.

The 2006 season confirmed Major League Soccer as a stable entity within both American and international soccer. Bob Bradley, whose reputation was scarred by disappointing results when coaching the MetroStars, turned around second-year Chivas USA, who in their inaugural season had finished last among all teams in the league.

The 2007 season saw the MLS debut of David Beckham, whose signing has been seen as a coup for American soccer. Beckham's signing by the Los Angeles Galaxy was made possible by the Designated Player Rule. Marcelo Gallardo of Paris Saint-Germain transferred to D.C. United, Cuauhtémoc Blanco of Club América signed for the Chicago Fire, and Juan Pablo Ángel, who moved from Aston Villa to the New York Red Bulls, are just some of the Designated Players who have made major contributions to their clubs.

The departures of Clint Dempsey to Fulham and Jozy Altidore to Villarreal, coupled with the return of former U.S. national team stars Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride to New York and Chicago, respectively, highlight the exchange of top prospects to Europe for experienced veterans for MLS. Several other well-known foreign players have followed Beckham and Blanco to MLS, including Guillermo Barros Schelotto to Columbus and Freddie Ljungberg to Seattle.

Toronto FC, who joined the league for the 2007 season, were the league's first entrant from Canada.

In the inaugural SuperLiga 2007, which was the product of the league's marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, the Los Angeles Galaxy lost on penalty kicks to Pachuca, as the league attempted to translate the traditional rivalry between the U.S. and Mexican national teams to the club level. Though it has only two seasons of existence, the tournament has been declared a success for both leagues. Due to the success of SuperLiga and the expansion of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup into the CONCACAF Champions League it was decided that clubs would no longer be permitted to enter both competitions. This helped solve the problem of fixture congestion during the 2007 and 2008 MLS seasons and gives half the league the opportunity to compete in international competition each season.

Recently "expansion," "contraction," and "rebranding" have become buzzwords for the league and its fans. The league has renewed its emphasis on improving the quality of play by its teams via initiatives such as the Designated Player Rule and the creation of a league-wide youth development system.

The 2006-2007 MLS offseason has been considered by some to be the most productive in the history of the league, and there were a number of changes made to the league, which have brought about an increase in the league's ability to compete financially as well as on the field. The league announced a youth development initiative, which will require youth development programs for all of the league's teams. The hope is that by being able to sign up to two of its own youth players to the senior team each year that the league's teams will have an incentive to improve the quality of the league's talent in an organic way that will also benefit the league through transfer fees for outgoing players. Perhaps the first example of a success in "home-grown" talent development was New York's Jozy Altidore, who rose to prominence as one of the league's most skilled young strikers before fetching the league's record transfer fee in his move to Villarreal in 2008.

Furthering the development of the league was the decision to create the Designated Player Rule, which allows for clubs to pay up to two players a salary beyond that covered in the salary cap at their own expense. A host of veteran players including Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Juan Pablo Ángel, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and David Beckham joined MLS and improved the league's level of play and the game's overall profile in the U.S. and the league's profile abroad.

The league also announced "Game First", a series of initiatives aimed at improving the league in several ways. One of the most immediate changes is that U.S. Soccer hired the first full-time professional referees in league history. Another part of "Game First" was the creation of an official league anthem similar to other competitions from around the world. There are two versions of the MLS Anthem, an orchestral version that is performed before every regular season game and an orchestral chorus version with a chorus that is played before the MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup.

Since 1999, the league has overseen the construction and completion of seven venues specifically designed for soccer. Lamar Hunt broke new ground in this endeavor by financing the construction of Columbus Crew Stadium. The Los Angeles Galaxy followed four years later with the opening of The Home Depot Center in 2003. Chivas USA has shared this venue with the Galaxy since their expansion season in 2004. It also played host to two consecutive MLS Cups, until FC Dallas opened Pizza Hut Park in 2005 and hosted the next two championships. The Chicago Fire began playing their home games in Toyota Park in 2006. 2007 saw the opening of Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the Colorado Rapids and BMO Field for the expansion Toronto FC. Near the end of the 2008 season, Rio Tinto Stadium became the new home of Real Salt Lake.

Other stadiums are currently under construction. Red Bull Arena, the new home of Red Bull New York, began construction in December 2007 with the goal of beginning play there at some point in 2009. D.C. United, the Kansas City Wizards, the Houston Dynamo, the New England Revolution, and the San Jose Earthquakes are actively searching for ways to finance and build their respective stadiums.

Seattle Sounders play at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and the owners have pledged that only the lower portion of the stadium will be used in order to create a better atmosphere for soccer. The Philadelphia franchise plans to play in the new Chester Stadium when they enter the league in 2010.

The move to soccer-specific stadiums has been seen by many as essential to building up attendance and fan support for MLS. So far, every club that has built its own stadium has not only seen its game attendance rise, but also has helped MLS achieve profitability. Thanks to their new stadium, the Los Angeles Galaxy became the first club to make a profit, followed in 2006 by FC Dallas.

At the outset, MLS signed deals for coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, while Univision, Galavision, and Telemundo broadcasted matches in Spanish. The original Univision deal lapsed after a few years, leaving only the ABC/ESPN family of networks as the league's national broadcasters. Fox Sports World (later rebranded as Fox Soccer Channel in 2005), Fox Sports en Español and HDNet began airing matches in 2003. The 2007 MLS season was the first season, however, for which television rights were sold to networks at a profit. Previously, MLS paid networks to broadcast its games. It is estimated MLS will receive about $30 million from TV revenue alone within the next eight years.

With the addition of Toronto FC, coverage of MLS expanded into Canada in 2007. The CBC, The Score and Rogers Sportsnet all broadcast Toronto matches nationwide.

The league's MLS Direct Kick package, which broadcasts out-of-market matches, has been expanded to ensure that every league match is broadcast. Univision and its family of networks resumed MLS broadcasts in 2007 as well, with most matches airing on TeleFutura and Galavision on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

The 2007 season was the first in the league's history in which every regular season match was telecast live, and many games were shown on national television. MLS Primetime Thursday on ESPN networks featured a live match for the first time on Thursdays each week, and Fox Soccer Channel's MLS Saturday expanded to a 3-hour format, with both a pregame and postgame show wrapped around the featured match each week. Additionally, Fox Soccer Channel produces their own news on MLS and special original programs on players, such as Beckham Unwrapped, a biographical update for summer 2007 on the Galaxy's David Beckham.

Major League Soccer also offers streaming live video of some matches via its website.

Sports Business Journal reported on December 23, 2008 that MLS and Soccer United Marketing had signed an international television broadcast contract with sports media company MP & Silva through 2013. The figure is reportedly an "eight-figure deal" that covers the "rights to all MLS games, tournaments and events, including MLS regular season, MLS Cup Playoffs, MLS Cup, and the international competitions SuperLiga, InterLiga, and Pan-Pacific Championship." InterLiga is the only non-MLS competition included in the deal. MP & Silva CEO Carlo Pozzali acknowledged that high profile, international players who were lured to MLS by the designated player rule have raised the international awareness and potential for popularity of MLS in international markets.

In 2009 Seattle Sounders FC became the first MLS team to broadcast all their games locally on over the air television and radio.

Major League Soccer has lost more than $350 million since its founding, according to a report by BusinessWeek in 2004. However, there are positive signs for profitability in the near future. As soccer-specific stadiums are built, ownership expands and television coverage increases, MLS has managed to see their revenues increase while costs are kept to a minimum. The 2003 season saw the Los Angeles Galaxy make a profit in their first season at The Home Depot Center, while FC Dallas turned a profit in similar fashion after moving into Pizza Hut Park in 2005.

Television coverage has consistently expanded throughout the league's history, as MLS brokered a deal with ESPN in 2006 for rights fees and a greater presence across its networks. The 2007 season saw the return of MLS to Univision and its Spanish-language networks. They joined Fox Soccer Channel and HDNet as the U.S. national outlets, and the league has mandated that every league game receive television coverage either nationally or locally in one or both teams' cities for broadcast on its Direct Kick package.

In 2007, MLS teams started selling ad space on the front of jerseys to go along with the league-wide sponsorship partners who had already been advertising on the back of club jerseys, following the practice of international sport, specifically soccer. The league has established a floor of $500,000 per shirt sponsorship, with the league receiving a flat fee of $200,000 per deal. Online gambling and hard liquor sponsorships are prohibited. As of January 2009, eleven of the league's fifteen teams have signed sponsorship deals to have company logos placed on the front of their team jerseys.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on May 11, 2006 that he expects the league's clubs to be profitable by 2010 overall. He reported that FC Dallas and the L.A. Galaxy are already profitable, with several other clubs nearing profitability. A year later, he revealed that the Chicago Fire, the Colorado Rapids, and Toronto FC were on track for profitability by 2008.. However in 2008 there were only three profitable MLS franchises; LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and FC Dallas .

MLS operates under a single-entity structure in which teams are centrally controlled by the league. In order to keep costs under control, revenues are shared throughout the league, player contracts are negotiated by the league, and ultimately players are contracted not with individual teams but with the league itself. The league fought a bitter legal battle with its players over its economic system, but this was eventually resolved with the players gaining some improved benefits in return for accepting the single entity structure. A court had also ruled that even absent their collective bargaining agreement, players could opt to play in other leagues if they were unsatisfied.

Commissioner Garber has stated that having multiple clubs owned by a single owner was a necessity in the first 10 years of MLS, but now that the league appears to be on the brink of overall profitability and has significant expansion plans, he wants each club to have a distinct owner. In order to help bring this about, the league is now giving more incentive to be an individual club owner, with all owners now having the rights to a certain number of players they develop through their club's academy system each year, sharing the profits of Soccer United Marketing, and being able to sell individual club jersey sponsorships.

At one time AEG owned six teams in MLS, and have since sold the Colorado Rapids, the MetroStars, D.C. United and the Chicago Fire to new owners. AEG's remaining teams are the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. The other major owner-investor in MLS has been Hunt Sports, which owns the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, having sold the Kansas City Wizards in to a local ownership group in 2006. The league now has 14 owners for their 16 clubs (including the 2010 Philadelphia club).

MLS experimented with deviations from IFAB rules and standards in its early years, some of which had been used in the NASL and continue to be used in college soccer and many high school associations.

Among them was the use of a countdown clock, rather than a standard progressive clock, with time paused for dead ball situations at a referee's discretion. Halves ended when the clock reached 0:00, rather than at the whistle of the referee as was customary elsewhere.

Also implemented was the use of shootouts to resolve tie games. These best-of-five contests placed a player 35 yards from goal with five seconds to put the ball past the opposing goalkeeper; if needed the shootout progressed into extra frames. A winning team received one standings point (as opposed to three for the regulation win).

While IFAB rules allow teams to substitute three players during games, MLS allowed a fourth, goalkeeper-only substitute. MLS discarded the rule after 2003 and adopted the IFAB standard, prompted in part by a match in which then MetroStars coach and current U.S. national team manager Bob Bradley used a loophole to insert an outfield player as a fourth substitute.

MLS eventually conceded that the rules changes, particularly the shootout, had alienated some traditional soccer fans while failing to draw new American sports fans as hoped. The shootout and countdown clock were eliminated after the 1999 season.

MLS continued to experiment with the settling of tie games in regular season play. In 2000, a 10-minute golden goal period replaced the shootout for tied games. It was abandoned after 2003. The golden-goal overtime remained through 2004 for playoff matches, where it had been used since the league's inception.

In 2005 the league adopted a playoff extra time structure that followed new IFAB standards for such situations: two full 15-minute periods, followed by penalty kicks if necessary. The away goals rule is not used in any playoff round.

There are 15 MLS teams divided between the Eastern and Western Conferences. Each club is allowed 24 players on their full roster.

Before its maiden season and inaugural draft, MLS allocated four marquee players across the initial ten teams. These inaugural allocations consisted of key U.S. national team and international players such as Eric Wynalda and Hugo Sánchez.

The league added its first two expansion teams for the 1998 season: Miami Fusion and Chicago Fire. However, following the 2001 season, Miami and the Tampa Bay Mutiny were disbanded and MLS returned to ten teams. Since the 2004 season, the league has expanded with four new clubs: Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA in 2005, the Houston Dynamo in 2006, and Toronto FC in 2007. After relocating as an expansion team to Houston in 2006, the San Jose Earthquakes returned from hiatus in 2008. Seattle Sounders FC joined MLS for the 2009 season.

MLS will expand to 16 teams in 2010, will expand to 18 teams in 2011, and plans to expand to 20 teams in 2012. A Philadelphia club is in place for 2010 with Vancouver and Portland joining the following season, and two yet to be determined franchises would begin play a year after that. The Philadelphia club will play in a 20,000-seat stadium to be built just west of the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester, Pennsylvania. No name for the team has been announced.

On March 18, 2009 a press conference announced that a new MLS team in Vancouver will replace the existing USL-1 club in that city, and that it would keep some form of the "Whitecaps" name. Vancouver will join the league in 2011.

On March 20, 2009 a press conference announced that a new MLS team in Portland will replace the existing USL-1 club in that city, and would keep the Portland Timbers name. Portland will join the league in 2011.

Originally, in the style of other U.S. sports, teams were given nicknames at their creation such as the Columbus Crew, San Jose Clash, or Tampa Bay Mutiny. D.C. United and Miami Fusion F.C. were the two exceptions that adopted more traditional names. However, new teams such as Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC have adopted names similar to European clubs, and FC Dallas changed its name from the Dallas Burn. Some of club names have their origins in defunct American professional soccer leagues like the NASL, such as the original San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders.

Chivas USA is the only MLS team whose name does not specify a specific city, state or region. The club is named after the Mexican side Guadalajara, who are often known by their nickname "Chivas," which translates to "Goats". The Mexican club (based in Guadalajara, Mexico) and Chivas USA share the same ownership. Though Real Salt Lake was not originally affiliated with Real Madrid, in 2006 the two clubs signed an agreement to play friendly matches every two years, and to co-sponsor a soccer academy and training facility in Utah. The beverage company Red Bull owns Red Bull New York, the Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, and the lower-level Brazilian club Red Bull Brasil.

There are 10 awards given out by the Major League Soccer each year.

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NCAA Men's Soccer Championship

The NCAA began conducting a men's soccer national championship tournament in 1959 with an eight-team tournament. Currently, the tournament field consists of 48 teams. In 1972, the Division II tournament was added, and in 1974, the Division III tournament began. Saint Louis (10 titles), Indiana (7 titles), and Virginia (5 titles) have historically been the most successful Division I schools.

The semifinals and finals of the Division I championship, for both men and women, are also known as the College Cup.

All three NCAA divisions use a slightly different structure and selection criteria for their tournaments.

Each conference determines the format for their conference championship, which determines the school who receives the automatic bid. Many use conference tournaments, although some conferences award the championship and automatic bid to the regular season champion. The remaining 26 teams have received at-large bids. The at-large teams are selected by a committee consisting of representatives from each of the eight regions the NCAA has divided the country into. The committee uses a number of criteria, the most influential being the Ratings Percentage Index, a mathematical formula designed to objectively compare the results and strength of schedule of all Division I teams.

The top 16 teams are seeded into the bracket and receive first round byes. The other 32 are grouped by geographical proximity. The first four rounds are played on campus sites, with matches being hosted by the higher seed. The College Cup, comprising the semifinal and final matches, is played at a predetermined site. The 2008 50th College Cup was held at Pizza Hut Park, at Frisco, Texas and hosted by Southern Methodist University and FC Dallas of Major League Soccer Maryland won the 2008 College Cup, beating North Carolina 1-0 in the final..

The NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Championship is a 32-team, single-elimination tournament. The Division II tournament is structured around the eight NCAA regions (Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast, and West). Four teams from each region are selected with no automatic qualifiers given. The selection criteria used is similar to that used in Division I, although one difference is that the RPI is replaced with the Quality of Winning Percentage Index, a more subjective measure.

The first two rounds are played on campus sites with the higher seed hosting the four-team regional. The winners of each region meet in the quarterfinals, with the host being determined by specific criteria or, failing that, geographical rotation. The final two rounds are played at a predetermined site. In 2008, the semifinals and final will be held at the City of Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Alabama, with the University of West Florida serving as the host institution.

The NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship is the largest of the three, with the most complicated selection process. The tournament is a 57-team, single-elimination tournament. Teams are divided into three pools. Pool A consists of the 36 conference champions, who all receive automatic bids to the tournament. Pool B consists of all teams which are not in conferences or are in conferences which do not meet the requirements to be awarded an automatic bid. Four teams are selected from Pool B. Pool C consists of all the other teams, plus those Pool B teams not already selected. 17 teams are selected from Pool C. The seven highest teams receive first round byes, and the rest of the bracket is filled by geographical proximity. The first two rounds of the championship are played at campus sites with the higher seeded team hosting the match. The next two rounds are group by four-team sites, with the highest seed acting as host. The semifinals and finals are played at a predetermined campus site. The 2005 Division III final rounds were played at Macpherson Stadium at Bryan Park, at Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2006, the finals will be hosted by the Sunshine State Conference, a Division II athletic conference, at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

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United States Soccer Federation

United States Soccer Federation building on Prairie Avenue in Chicago

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF or U.S. Soccer) is the official governing body of the sport of soccer in the United States. The headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois.

It is a member of FIFA and is responsible for governing amateur and professional soccer, including the men's, women's, futsal and Paralympic national teams. The USSF is also responsible for sanctioning referees and soccer tournaments for most soccer leagues in the United States.

What is now the United States Soccer Federation was originally the US Football Association, formed in 1913 by the merger of the American Football Association and the American Amateur Football Association and became one of the earliest member organizations of FIFA. The governing body of the sport in the US did not have the word soccer in its name until 1945, when it became the US Soccer Football Association. It did not drop the word football from its name until 1974, when it became the US Soccer Federation.

The USSF had the honor of hosting the Men's FIFA World Cup in 1994, the Women's World Cup in 1999 and 2003, and the Olympic Games in 1984 and 1996. The women's national team has also had the distinction of winning two Women's World Cups in 1991 and 1999 (placing third in 1995, 2003, and 2007); the Olympic Gold Medal in 1996, 2004, and 2008; and the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup in 2000 and 2002. The US Men's National Team (USMNT) has had a less stellar history. The USMNT was invited to the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and qualified for the World Cup in 1934, finishing a respectable 3rd in 1930 out of 13 teams participating. In 1950 the US scored their most surprising victory with a 1-0 win over heavily favored England, who were amongst the world's best sides at the time, which has been documented in the book and now movie The Game of Their Lives (retitled The Miracle Match for DVD release).

The US failed to reach another World Cup Final until an upstart national team qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup with the "goal heard around the world" scored by Paul Caligiuri against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain on 19 November 1989 which started the modern era of soccer in the United States. The 1990 USMNT team was quickly disposed of at the World Cup. The Women's World Cup was inaugurated in 1991, and the USWNT became the first team to win the prize after beating Norway in the final. The Women's World Cup demonstrated the high caliber of play in women's soccer. That set the stage for the US to host the men's 1994 FIFA World Cup, the world's biggest sporting event, drawing 94,194 fans to the final game. The USMNT made a surprising run to the second round with a shocking "own goal" victory over Colombia which saw Andrés Escobar, the player responsible for the own goal, later shot to death in his homeland. 1998 saw another disappointing addition to the history of US men's soccer as the team finished dead last (on goal difference) among the 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup. This embarrassment, which included total collapse of team chemistry, led to the sacking of the once considered promising head coach Steve Sampson and the hiring of Bruce Arena, who has since gone on to become the most successful USMNT head coach in history.

The next year, the U.S. hosted the Women's World Cup for the first time. During their tournament run, the WNT established a new level of popularity for the women's side of the sport, climaxing with a final against China that drew 90,185 fans—an all-time attendance record for a women's sports event—to a sold-out Rose Bowl. After neither team scored in regulation or extra time, the final went to a penalty shootout, which the WNT won 5-4. The celebration by Brandi Chastain after she converted the winning penalty, in which she took off her shirt, revealing her sports bra in the process, is one of the most famous images in the history of women's sports.

In 2002 Bruce Arena led a mix of veterans and youth to a quarterfinal appearance after dispatching the then-considered contenders Portugal in the first round and archrivals Mexico in the round of 16 before falling to eventual runners-up Germany in a controversial loss.

Bruce Arena looked to match or surpass that feat in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The team was lead by a handful of youthful talent, namely DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, and Oguchi Onyewu. However, the U.S. faced one of the toughest draws with Italy, the Czech Republic and Ghana in the first round. The U.S. lost to the Czech Republic 3-0 in their opening game with Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky scoring 2 memorable goals. The U.S. drew with Italy 1-1 in their second game. The match finished with only 19 players after 2 U.S. and 1 Italian player received red cards. However, they would lose 2-1 to Ghana in their next match, preventing them from advancing from the group stage. In the wake of the World Cup, Arena was told that his contract would not be renewed at the end of 2006. Bob Bradley subsequently became head coach in 2007.

In 2003, U.S. Soccer opened their National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. The $130 million facility includes a soccer-specific stadium, home to the MLS teams, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. The Home Depot Center's main entrance is located at 18400 Avalon Boulevard. Coming through the main entrance, there are five full soccer fields (four grass and one artificial) for use. Both the senior and youth men's and women's United States National Teams hold camps at The Home Depot Center regularly.

Major League Soccer is a first division soccer league in the United States, with one team in Canada. It is comprised of 15 teams divided into two conferences, East and West. A separate organization, the United Soccer Leagues, operates two other men's professional leagues, the second division USL First Division and the third division USL Second Division. Another third division league, the National Premier Soccer League also exists. The major men's indoor league is the MISL.

Today, there are two first division, professional development women's leagues; the WPSL and the USL's semi-professional W-League. A top-level full-time professional league, Women's United Soccer Association, suspended operations in 2003, but a new league Women's Professional Soccer will begin in 2009.

The USSF has also, since 1914, sponsored a nationwide tournament open to all USSF affiliated clubs, now known as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

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Source : Wikipedia