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How to Watch Soccer After the World Cup

Updated on July 2, 2014

The World Cup has reached a fever pitch in the United States, with ratings records shattering across the board for the United States' Mens National team (USMNT for short) over their four total World Cup games. With each of those four games being top-notch thrillers, though most of them fared poorly for the United States, this World Cup has perhaps produced more new Soccer fans than in any previous World Cup.

However, World Cups are not frequent events. Counting both the Men's and Women's World Cups, each of which occur once every four years, you'll only get top levels of international competition every other year. There are smaller international tournaments held once in a while as well, but for those who wish to keep watching Soccer immediately, that is of no help.

Fortunately for these new people, Soccer is played nearly all year at one level or another. Here are various leagues played globally that new Soccer fans can watch with a minimal amount of effort.

List of Soccer Leagues that Air in the United States

U.S. Television
Major League Soccer (MLS)
United States
March - October
NBCSN, ESPN for select games
English Premier League (EPL)
United Kingdom
August - May
UEFA Champion's League
All of Europe
July - May
Fox Sports

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Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer, MLS for short, is the biggest Soccer league in the United States. Founded in December of 1993, MLS has gained in popularity and legitimacy over the past decade or so, currently featuring 19 teams with plans to ultimately expand to 24 teams.

Unlike the other major leagues in the United States, the MLS does not employ the sports' best players as most of those players compete in European leagues. To compare, the MLS is to the highest level of Soccer competition as AA baseball is to MLB baseball, or FCS-level Division I college football to the NFL.

Disregarding that, though, there is still lots of fun to be had rooting for a local squad (if your city has one) or to support the local league. Some cities, such as Seattle and Portland, boast huge attendance numbers as proof of their passion both for the sport and their teams as well. Even if you can't catch a game in person, both ESPN and the NBC Sports Network air MLS games throughout its season. While the NBCSN will air the bulk of MLS content, ESPN also airs a Game of the Week, as well as the MLS Cup, the Championship series for MLS.

English Premier League

Another Soccer league growing in popularity stateside is a league that has no American teams in it: the English Premier league. While the league itself is relatively young, its teams mostly consist of rich, historic traditional teams dating back before the NFL or NBA and even most baseball teams. The EPL is considered by quite a few people as the best Soccer league in the world, featuring some of the world's best players (though not all of them).

There is no postseason in the EPL; the team with the most points at season's end is crowned the EPL Champion. Instead, the league's top four teams are invited to compete in the UEFA Champion's League featuring top teams from across Europe. The Champion's League does have a postseason to determine a true European champion.

For Americans, following European soccer is tougher as, for starters, you'd have to travel to Europe just to attend a game, but also time zone differences make it so that the bulk of the matches occur early in the morning for Americans (with an additional, merciful 3 PM EST game as well). The NBC Sports Network currently has sole broadcasting rights to the EPL; to watch Champions League games, Fox Sports 1 is your best bet to do so (those games are played in roughly the same time span as the EPL).

The Options are Out There

Univision, ESPN Deportes and the online service ESPN 3 also carry games in various other leagues both in Europe as well as in Mexico or South America, but a lot of these broadcasts are in Spanish.

Additionally, the US Men's and Women's National teams will still be playing in friendlies or other tournament qualifying games throughout the year. ESPN will air those games through 2014, but the rights shift to Fox Sports from 2015 on. ESPN will also air the 2016 UEFA Euro, an European-only version of the World Cup, but that's still a couple of years away.

In any case, sports networks are more than willing to provide viewers with plenty of Soccer options both in the near future and in years to come (well, provided you have cable, at least). With so many leagues and teams and games, there's no reason why your involvement in Soccer needs to stop at the World Cup.


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