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The circuitous journey of soccer in America

Soccer in a Football World

The Story of America's Forgotten Game

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David Wangerin

"For anyone who still thinks that the U.S. soccer boom is a momentary fever, this sweeping history shows that the game has been in our blood for a very long time. Wangerin’s scholarship is impressive, but there is more at work here. With a sportswriter’s eye for the telling scene and the well-wrought line, he lays out the story of soccer’s tempestuous past in this country with a completeness that simply hasn’t been done before"
Jim Haner, author of Soccerhead: An Accidental Journey into the Heart of the American Game

"The strength of Wangerin’s book is the depth and thoroughness of his research. He has clearly read widely, dug deeply into the archives, had countless conversations with who knows how many football people, in undertaking this very necessary project."
Grant Farred author of Long Distance Love: A Passion for Football

David Beckham’s arrival in Los Angeles represents the latest attempt to jump-start soccer in the United States where, David Wangerin says, it “remains a minority sport.” With the rest of the globe so resolutely attached to the game, why is soccer still mostly dismissed by Americans?

Calling himself “a soccer fan born in the wrong country at nearly the wrong time,” Wangerin writes with wit and passion about the sport’s struggle for acceptance in Soccer in a Football World. A Wisconsin native, he traces the fragile history of the game from its early capitulation to gridiron on college campuses to the United States’ impressive performance at the 2002 World Cup. Placing soccer in the context of American sport in general, he chronicles its enduring struggle alongside the country’s more familiar pursuits and recounts the shifting attitudes toward the “foreign” game. His story is one that will enrich the perspective of anyone whose heart beats for the sport, and is curious as to where the game has been in America—and where it might be headed.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction (pdf).

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Reviews

"David Wangerin understands that American soccer isn't the recent development that some believe it to be. He has a thorough knowledge of the long history of the sport in the United States, and he relates the ups and downs of that history wonderfully well in Soccer in a Football World."
Roger Allaway, Historian of the National Soccer Hall of Fame

"comprehensive and engaging ... David Wangerin has done a great service by providing this enlightening and entertaining account of the fascinating characters and unique circumstances that have defined US soccer for nearly a century."
— Soccer America

"thoroughly illuminating and enjoyable."
— FourFourTwo

"this book is a pleasure not just because it's well written and comprehensively researched, but because of the sheer diversity of the characters and the teams that pop up ... Highly recommended."
— Matchnight.com

"a fascinating read — and quite an eye-opener too."
— Yorkshire Evening Post

"In thorough fashion, Wangerin moves from past to present, covering our unique terminology; peculiar rules; governing bodies and leagues; World Cup triumphs and missteps; the ongoing fortunes of Major League Soccer; and, above all, the culture surrounding the game…. [this book] provides a greater level of detail [than similar titles] and is a good purchase where soccer-mad patrons—and there are more of them these days—provide demand."
— Booklist

"[Wangerin] is the intelligent, compassionate and committed spokesman that American soccer needs."
— The Washington Post Book World

"Wangerin has written a readable history of US soccer from the late 19th century to the present.... [T]his updated US edition makes a valuable contribution to the literature on what is still regarded by many as a foreign, minority sport.... Wangerin's fine study is entertaining, well researched, and well written. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
—Choice

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Contents


Preface to the US Edition
Careless Hands: Introduction
1. A Game of its Own: America's path to football isolation
2. Tangled Roots: The first American Soccer League
3. Strangers on a Boat: False dawns and hard landings for the national team
4. 'We will be phenomenal': Ambition and folly in the Sixties
5. Moving the Goalposts: Pele and the Cosmos
6. Shootout to the Death: The collapse of the NASL
7. A Foot in the Door: Harsh lessons at Italia 90
8. Revenge of the Commie Pansies: The World Cup comes to America
9. Clash and Burn: MLS: back to square one
10. Momentary Insanity: In and out of love with the women's game
11. Take Me Out to the Soccer-specific Facility: The 2002 World Cup and beyond
Index

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About the Author(s)

David Wangerin (1962-2012) was born in Chicago and grew up in Wisconsin. Two years after coaching his high school's soccer team to a debut season of unbroken defeats, he moved to England, partly to be nearer to Aston Villa. He was a contributor to the British soccer magazine When Saturday Comes since 1988, and lived in Scotland, where he developed an affection for Raith Rovers.

Subject Categories

Sports
General Interest
American Studies


In the series

Sporting, edited by Amy Bass.

As an international cultural activity for athleticism, spectatorship, and global cultural exchange, sport is unmatched by any other force on earth. And yet it remains a consistently understudied dimension of history and cultural studies. Sporting, edited by Amy Bass, aims to contribute to the study of sport by publishing works by people across a range of disciplines, by professional sportswriters, and by athletes to add substance to our still emerging notion of globalization.

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