Football

Where blazers and soccer collide

Published 1733 GMT (0133 HKT) November 24, 2015
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Is soccer taking off in the U.S.? Major European teams, like Real Madrid and Manchester United, now routinely tour the country ahead of their domestic seasons. In fact, in 2014 the two teams met at the Michigan Stadium in front of the largest ever crowd to watch a football game in the U.S. -- breaking the mark of 101,799 set at the Rose Bowl for the 1984 Olympic final. Leon Halip/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Soccer first caught the imagination of the American public in the 1970s, during the halcyon days of the North American Soccer League. At its peak, the league attracted starts such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, who both played for the New York Cosmos. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
But the good times couldn't last and the NASL adventure came to an end in 1984. It wasn't the end for soccer in the U.S., however, as the country rediscovered its love for the "beautiful game" when it hosted the 1994 World Cup. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
And the enthusiasm generated by the World Cup rolled into Major League Soccer (MLS,) which was formed in 1996. Twenty years later, the league is still going strong. It now attracts a higher average attendance than the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA). Todd Warshaw/Getty Images/File
David Beckham's move from Real Madrid to Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 was a watershed moment for soccer in the U.S. Since Beckham, players such as former World Player of the Year, Kaka, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Didier Drogba and Andrea Pirlo have headed to America. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/File
The U.S. women's national team became the first country to win three World Cups -- triumphing in 1991, 1999 and 2015 -- inspiring young women to take up the game. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Support for the men's side has also grown thanks to their exploits at major tournaments -- most notably reaching the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002 and second place at the 2009 Confederations Cup. AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A chance meeting nearly a decade ago between Michael Davies (L) and Roger Bennett (R) also helped football catch on in the U.S. Through their "Men in Blazers" podcast and television show, the duo have educated Americans on football in a fun and engaging way. Earlier this month, they arranged BlazerCon, a two-day football convention that took place in New York. Rod Griola/CNN
Former U.S. national team player Alexi Lalas was among the speakers at the convention. Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was another speaker at "BlazerCon." Scudamore told CNN football is blossoming in the U.S. "There's a whole new audience growing all the time its incredible," said the 56 year-old. Getty Images
Everton manager took advantage of the international break to chat to a mainly American crowd. Scott Heavey/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
2015 Women's World Cup winner Ali Krieger was on hand to share stories about the U.S's victorious campaign. Elsa/Getty Images North America/Getty Images