Get psyched for soccer: U.S. celebrates 100 years of the sport


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U.S. women national team midfielder Carli Lloyd poses for a photo with former women's national team players Michelle Akers and April Heinrichs during the centennial celebration of U. S. Soccer at Times Square in New York, NY, on April 4.

U.S. women national team midfielder Carli Lloyd (left) poses with former women’s national team players Michelle Akers and April Heinrichs during the centennial celebration of U. S. Soccer at Times Square in New York City on April 4.

The United States may not be the first country you think of when you hear the word “soccer,” but the sport is alive and well in the great U.S. of A. In fact, it is commemorating its 100th anniversary this year.

It’s no wonder soccer is a wildly popular sport; it’s so fun! If you like running and being part of a team, it’s never too late to play soccer. Research shows that a game of soccer works off more fat and builds more muscle than jogging. All you need is a ball and some friends.

Here are the health benefits:

  • Increases aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health
  • Lowers body fat and improves muscle tone
  • Builds strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Increases muscle and bone strength
  • Improves health due to shifts between walking, running and sprinting
  • Improves coordination

Centennial Week

U.S. Soccer celebrated its Centennial Week in New York City — where the U.S. Soccer charter was signed 100 years ago on April 5, 1913. Centennial Week is the continuation of a year-long celebration honoring the history of the game with a focus toward the future. A who’s-who of U.S. Soccer reps — including U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati; U.S. men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann; and U.S. Soccer’s most recognizable and accomplished former players, Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones, Michelle Akers, April Heinrichs, Walter Bahr and Tab Ramos — were at Centennial Week to help celebrate.

“The Centennial has allowed us to share stories about people, events and moments that have truly contributed to U.S. Soccer’s success through these first 100 years,” Gulati said in a release. “Celebrating in New York City — where 100 years ago a group of visionaries came together to pave the way for soccer in the United States — is truly merging our past with the present, while demonstrating a 100% commitment to the future of the game and our organization in the U.S. We hope that our membership, fans and supporters take a moment during the week to reflect on the first 100 years of U.S. Soccer and imagine all the things we can accomplish in the next 100 years.”

The week-long NYC celebration began Tuesday at the New York Stock Exchange where Gulati, Klinsmann and U.S. women national team midfielder Carli Lloyd rang the closing bell. A special event for fans and supporters was held in Times Square on Thursday. Fans were able to play soccer on a small-sided field; sign their name and make a pledge to the future of U.S. Soccer; and take pictures with the 1991 and 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup trophies. U.S. Soccer reps were on hand throughout the day, playing soccer and chatting with fans. Following a press conference Friday, which was held at New York City Hall — just across the street from where the U.S. Soccer charter was signed in 1913 — there was a lighting of the top of the Empire State Building. Red, white and blue colored lights, of course.

Here’s a video from MLSsoccer.com showcasing the Times Square event:

Here’s looking toward the future

According to a story on Ussoccer.com, the men’s national team has become a regional power in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football and is trying to qualify for its seventh-consecutive FIFA World Cup. The women’s national team quickly became a world power, winning two FIFA Women’s World Cups and the last three Olympic gold medals, four in all. Also, Major League Soccer recently kicked off its 18th season, and the National Women’s Soccer League is scheduled to begin its first season this month.