Soccer in the US growing enormously - ex-Everton star Heath
Former Everton midfielder Adrian Heath believes the game in the USA is growing rapidly.
In an interview on toffeeweb.com, Heath, who is coaching Austin Aztex in the USSFD2, spoke of the amount of traction the game is making around the country.
"The biggest thing we have seen in the last two years, is when non-American teams have been playing, for example AC Milan, Club America (Mexico), Chelsea and now the US teams like the Seattle Sounders, the gates are huge, in comparison to the past," Heath said.
"Also the kids who play the game at High School through College are now seeing a pathway from a career perspective, with clubs starting academies, they bring in local players and many are now playing in the big leagues around the globe.
"When I speak to some of the real pioneers of the game in the US, they all comment on the availability on TV to watch top quality games as being a significant factor in the growth. For example, every European Championship game and major Champions League game was shown live on ESPN and you would never have dreamt that 5 years ago - never mind 20."
Heath said that the popularity of the sport in Texas is making a big comeback on that of other, more popular sports which years ago would not have been possible.
"In terms of popularity, certainly here (in Texas) it's easily challenging the popularity of Ice Hockey and Basketball, and not far behind Baseball. Fifteen years ago, people would have laughed at you. So there is a definitive shift in the perception of the American people about the game, both as a playing and spectator sport," he added.
"You only have to look around the Shopping Malls and see the number of replica shirts being worn and the school kids who know the EPL teams, grounds, players... again, what a change from 5 years ago.
"I also see an incredible amount of talent here, the question now is how to harness it and move it through the academies to create a structured format for the development of young talent."