The popularity of the beautiful game has risen sharply in the United States over the years. The development of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the dominance of the USWNT team in the sport over the years have aided in improving the standard of football in America. Fans have also been greatly attracted by the arrival of household European names such as Zlatan Ibrahimović and Wayne Rooney to the MLS.
This gradual progression has led to the successful joint bid by the USA alongside Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Having last hosted the World Cup in 1994, it is a great chance for the nation to show the improved state of the game in the country since then.
With American Football, Soccer and Baseball all being popular sports in the States, the country has done well to use multi-purpose stadiums to ensure that more than one sport can be played at the venue. With over 90,000 capacity available currently, the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena is a good example of such a system. This venue has hosted the NFL Super Bowl 5 times and did also host a few games during the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
But it looks like this American system has not gone appreciated by fans abroad. Following the release of a clip earlier this week that showcased a game of football happening on a baseball pitch, football fans have taken to Twitter to express their surprise.
This occurred during a fixture in the USL Championship (2nd tier below the MLS) game between FC Tulsa and New York Red Bull 2 held at the ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. The second-tier club from the city have been sharing the stadium with the Tulsa Drillers who are a minor league baseball team based in Tulsa.
American fans seemed to find it an ordinary league fixture commencing even if it was being conducted on the uneven and semi-grass pitch used to play baseball. It surely did not stop 21-year-old Jeremey Rafanello from scoring a screamer to put the New York Red Bulls ahead on the night. But the mismatch between the game and the field has surely irked many fans of football who have been debating the issue with American supporters on social media channels.
As the country still lacks infrastructural development to provide for at the grassroots level, American soccer fans perhaps have been rightful to focus on the positive aspect of the rise in the popularity of the sport rather than on the lack of a football field. After all, football has been played on uneven surfaces since time immemorial.