My Youth Soccer Guide

American Soccer History Timeline
Chronological Overview

Beginning of the American soccer history could be dated back to 1620s, when the Pilgrims found Native Americans playing a game resembling soccer called pasuckquakkowowg.


  • In the original Jamestown settlement, Native Americans played a game called pasuckuakohowog meaning, "they gather to play ball with the foot." Beaches, a half-mile wide with goals 1 mile apart, served as playing fields for as many as 1000 people at a time. Games were often rough, resulting in broken bones, but no one could be identified because players disguised themselves with ornaments and war paint making retaliation close to impossible. It was common for games to be carried over from one day to the next with a feast for all at the conclusion of the match.


  • Football (soccer) was played among the Northeastern universities and colleges of Harvard, Princeton, Amherst and Brown. Rules were casual and changed often.


  • Freshman and sophomore classes at Harvard had instituted an annual intramural football contest in 1827, played on the first Monday of the new school year. These games were evidently quite rowdy, as the event was known as "Bloody Monday".


  • Oneida Football Club formed in Boston in 1862, was the first soccer club anywhere outside of England.


  • Soccer was initiated as an organized college sport in the USA. The game was similar to both rugby and soccer.


  • During the time of the Industrial Revolution, thousands of British immigrants introduced the game of soccer to the metropolitan areas of the United States.


  • The American Football Association was structured in Newark, NJ, uniting the numerous metropolitan area of the East.


  • USA versus Canada, first international match played between teams outside of Great Britain.


  • Delegates from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland established FIFA (The Federation Internationale de Football Association) at a meeting in Paris on May 21.


  • The United States Football Association (USFA) was granted provisional membership by FIFA on August 15.


  • The United States Football Association (USFA) was incorporated under the laws of the state of New York and was granted full membership in FIFA at the annual congress at Oslo, Norway, June 24.


  • The first United States Football Association (USFA) Men's National Team traveled to Norway and Sweden. The Americans played six matches finishing 3-1-2.


  • Bethlehem Steel (PA) became the first American professional team to play in Europe.


  • The Dick-Kerr's Ladies Professional Team (England's unofficial team), which toured the United States in 1920. They outscored their male opponents 35-34, and left with a 3-3-2 record.


  • The birth of the American Soccer League (ASL). Franchises were granted to Fall River (MA), Philadelphia, Jersey City Celtics, Todd Shipyard of Brooklyn, New York FC, Falcons FC of Holyoke (MA), and JP Coats of Pawtucket (RI).


  • The world's first indoor soccer league with 11-a-side teams on a full-sized field opened the winter season at the Commonwealth Calvary Armory in Boston.


  • The Hakoah team from Israel played before 46,000 fans at the Polo Grounds against an ASL select team. The ASL won, 3-0.


  • The USA was one of 13 nations to compete in the first FIFA World Cup competition in Montevideo, Uruguay. The United States team finished third overall losing a semi-final game to Argentina.


  • At the 10th Olympic Games in Los Angeles, soccer was eliminated due to a controversy between FIFA and the IOC over the definition of an amateur athlete.


  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), governing body of college athletics in the United States, released their official rulebook covering all intercollegiate soccer in the United States.


  • The United States Men's National Team competed in their second consecutive World Cup, going winless in Italy.


  • West Chester State College and Salisbury College played in the first intercollegiate soccer game under floodlights.


  • 10 coaches attending the annual meeting of the intercollegiate Soccer Football Association of America in New York organized The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).


  • The USFA changed its name to United States Soccer Football Association (USSFA).


  • Joe Gaetjens' goal gave the USA the win over England 1-0 at the World Cup in Brazil. It was called the biggest upset ever in international soccer.
  • The first college bowl game was played in St. Louis January 1. Penn State tied the University of San Francisco 2-2.
  • The Philadelphia Old-Timers Association organized the National Soccer Hall of Fame. There were 15 inaugural inductees.


  • The USSFA took over the administration of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in an agreement with the Old-timers Soccer Association.


  • The American Soccer League (ASL) was granted permission from the USSFA to create an International Soccer League (ISL).


  • The first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics college championship was held in Slippery Rock, PA. Pratt Institute was victorious over Elizabethtown College 4-3.
  • The first NCAA championship tournament is held in Storrs, CT. St. Louis University defeated Bridgeport University 5-2.


  • The International Soccer League (ISL) made their debut under the sponsorship of William Cox and the ASL. Top-class teams from Europe, Great Britain and South America visited cities of the USA to play American teams.


  • The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) was established on September 18 in Mexico City. Later that year, the CONCACAF was officially recognized by FIFA as the governing body of soccer in this part of the world.


  • Two new major professional leagues in the USA began: league of the United Soccer Association (USA) and the independent National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). By the end of the year, the leagues merged at the request of FIFA and the North American Soccer League (NASL) was established.
  • The Hermann Trophy award for the college player of the year was initiated. Dov Markus of Long Island University was the first recipient.


  • The USSFA changed its name to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). The NASL reached 18 teams.


  • The New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League signed Pele for a reported $4.5 million.


  • The NASL signed a seven-game contract for national television.


  • The Chicago Sting played the Cuban National Team in an exhibition game in Havana, Cuba. It was the first time, since 1959, that an American professional sports team had visited Cuba.
  • The New York Cosmos became the first NASL team to break one million in home and away attendance.
  • The Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) started with six franchises: Cincinnati Kids, Cleveland Force, Houston Summit, New York Arrows, Philadelphia Fever and Pittsburgh Spirit.


  • The United States Under-20 National Team competed in its first World Youth Championship in Australia. The U.S. team lost to Uruguay 3-0, tied Qatar 1-1, and lost to Poland 4-0.


  • The National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum opened in the Wilber Mansion, Oneonta, NY.
  • The United States made a formal bid to host the 1986 FIFA World Cup.


  • FIFA awarded the 1986 World Cup to Mexico, rejecting the bid from the United States.


  • Four NASL teams permanently joined the MISL (New York, Chicago, San Diego and Minnesota).
  • After 49 seasons the ASL canceled its operations.
  • The American Indoor Soccer Association (AISA) was formed.
  • The United Soccer League (USL) was founded.


  • The first U.S. Women's National Team competed internationally in August in Italy.
  • The North American Soccer League and the United Soccer League were terminated.


  • The Western Soccer Alliance (WSA) league began with seven teams.


  • The ASL kicked off again with only 10 teams.
  • On July 4, the United States was awarded the 1994 World Cup during the FIFA Congress in Zurich.


  • The United States Futsal National Team won the bronze medal at the inaugural FIFA World Championship in the Netherlands.
  • For the first time since 1950, U.S. Men's National Team qualified for 1990 World Cup after 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago.
  • Paul Caligiuri scored the winning goal, referred to as the biggest goal in American soccer history since Gaetjens goal in the 1950 World Cup against England.


  • U.S. Men's National Team competed in the World Cup in Italy for the first time in 40 years.
  • The U.S. Women's National Team qualified for the world championship by defeating its five CONCACAF opponents in combined score of 49-0.
  • The WSL and the ASL merged to form the American Professional Soccer League.


  • The United States Men's National Team won its first-ever regional championship when it captured the CONCACAF Gold Cup defeating Honduras 4-3 in penalty kicks.
  • The U.S. Women's National Team won the first-ever FIFA Women's World Championship in China after beating Norway 2-1 in the Final.
  • The United States Under-23 team won the gold medal at the Pan Am Games in Cuba.


  • The U.S. Men's National Team won the inaugural U.S. Cup '92 in June. The USA defeated Ireland 3-1, Portugal 1-0, and tied three-time World Cup champion Italy, 1-1.
  • The Major Indoor Soccer League folded after 15 years in existence.
  • The U.S. Fustal Team won the silver medal at FIFA World Championship in Hong Kong.


  • The United States Under-20 National Team defeated Europe's number one seed, Turkey, 6-0 in the first game of the FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia.
  • Alan Rothenberg, president of US Soccer Federation, presented plans for Major League Soccer - a Division I league - as the legacy of 1994 World Cup.
  • The APSL was declared a Division II professional league. The United States Interregional Soccer League (USISL) was given Division III status.


  • The United States hosted 1994 FIFA World Cup, staging the greatest event in FIFA history. Over 3.5 million in attendance is still a World Cup record. The USA advanced beyond the first round for the first time in 64 years, losing 1-0 to eventual champion Brazil.
  • The Women's National Team won the Chiquita Cup, an international tournament with four national teams of Germany, China, Norway and the United States.
  • The U.S. defended its CONCACAF championship, qualifying for the 1995 FIFA Women's World Championship by winning all four qualification matches and outscoring the opposition 36-1.
  • Women's National Team assistant coach Tony DiCicco was appointed as a new head coach after resignation of Anson Dorrance.


  • U.S. Women's National Team placed 3rd at the Women's World Cup in Sweden, falling to eventual champion Norway in the semifinals 1-0, then defeated China in the 3rd Place Match.
  • U.S. Soccer announced in February its intention to host the 1999 Women's World Cup and began the formal bid process with FIFA.
  • U.S. Men's National team won U.S. Cup '95 in June, defeating Nigeria, tying Colombia and outplayed Mexico to a 4-0 victory.
  • In July, the men's team advanced to the semifinals of Copa America, the prestigious tournaments known as a South America Championship.
  • The U.S. defeated Argentina 3-0 for the first time in American soccer history.
  • Steve Sampson, who had served as interim national team coach since April, was named full-time head coach in August.


  • FIFA awarded the 1999 Women's World Cup to the United States.
  • U.S. Women's National Team won the first-ever gold medal in the Olympic Games in Atlanta defeating China 2-1 in the championship game.
  • The United States men's Olympic team narrowly missed advancing to the quarterfinals with a 1-1-1 record.
  • Major League Soccer was launched, providing the United States with its first Division I outdoor pro league since the North American Soccer League folded in 1985. MLS averaged more than 17,000 fans per game.
  • The A-League and USISL merged to form a larger and stronger Division II outdoor league.


  • U.S. Men's National Team qualified for their third straight World Cup.
  • The United States Women's National Team continued their impressive play by winning their fourth straight Nike U.S. Cup.
  • After five years, The Continental Indoor Soccer League ceased its operations.


  • U.S. Men's National Team finished last in 1998 World Cup in France after losing its all three games and scoring only one goal (Brian McBride).
  • On October 27, Bruce Arena replaced Steve Sampson as the head coach.
  • Dr. Bob Contiguglia took over as U.S. Soccer's new president, replacing Alan Rothenberg, who had reached the eight-year term limit.


  • U.S. Women's National Team won the 1999 Women's World Cup by defeating China 5-4 on penalties after a scoreless tie in regulation and overtime in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
  • U.S. Women's National Team head coach Tony DiCicco resigned in November as the winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history with a record of 103-8-8.
  • New Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum opened on June 12.
  • U.S. Men's National Team, under Bruce Arena as a head coach, defeated Germany twice, Argentina, Chile, and captured the bronze medal at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico.
  • The Under-23 Men's National Team beat Canada for the bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg.
  • In November, the Under-17s extended their record unbeaten streak to 24 games, advancing to the semifinals of the World Championship before losing in penalty kicks to Australia. Forward Landon Donovan and midfielder DaMarcus Beasley earned the Gold and Silver Balls as the tournaments top two MVPs.
  • The Under-21 Women's National Team earned the 1999 Nordic Cup title.
  • The Under-18 Women's National Team won the first place at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg.
  • The Premier Soccer Alliance, which began in 1998 with four teams, was renamed the World Indoor Soccer League.


  • U.S. Women's National Team had to settle for a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics, losing in overtime to Norway in the Gold Medal Match.
  • U.S. Men's National Olympic Team advanced to the semis before grabbing fourth place, the highest Olympic finish. U.S. was the only nation to have both teams, women's and men's, in the semifinals at the Sydney Games.
  • The United States Futsal National Team fails to qualify for the 2000 FIFA World Championship, coming in third place at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament.


  • The United States Men qualified for a fourth straight World Cup appearance.
  • Mia Hamm is named the first-ever FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, beating out teammate Tiffany Milbrett and Chinese superstar Sun Wen for the historic award.
  • The United States Under-21 Women won their third straight Nordic Cup defeating Sweden 6-1 in the final.
  • The United States Under-20 Men's National Team qualified for their third straight FIFA World Championship, where the team was eliminated in the second round by Egypt.
  • The United States Under-17 Men's National Team advanced to their ninth consecutive FIFA U-17 World Championship in Argentina but was eliminated in the first round.
  • The National Professional Soccer League, in existence since 1984-85, merged with the WISL and is renamed the Major Indoor Soccer League.


  • The U.S. Men's National Team advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, the team's best World Cup showing since 1930. The United States had its first-ever victory in the World Cup knockout stage, beating CONCACAF rival Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16. The World Cup run ended in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 loss to Germany.
  • The United States Under-20 Men's National Team qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA Youth Championship.
  • The United States Women's National Team qualified for their fourth consecutive FIFA Women's World Cup.
  • The United States Under-19 Women's National Team topped the host Canadians 1-0 in overtime to win the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship.


  • FIFA relocates the Women's World Cup out of China, due to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The United States' bid to host the tournament is successful, and the United States Soccer faces the difficult task of hosting the tournament with just four months of preparation. The United States Women's National Team, now defending their title on home soil, easily won Group A and then got past Norway in the quarterfinals 1-0. But in the semifinals, Germany stunned the United States with a 3-0 victory. United States topped Canada in the third-place match.
  • The Men's National Team, preparing for World Cup qualification in 2004, finished in third place at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 3-2 victory over Costa Rica and then competed in the FIFA Confederations Cup in France, losing to Turkey and Brazil, and drawing with Cameroon.
  • The United States Under-21 Women's National Team won their sixth Nordic Cup title in seven years.
  • The Under-20 Men's National Team reached quarterfinals of the FIFA World Youth Championship. In the heart-braking quarterfinal game to Argentina, U.S. Team lost its lead in the stoppage time and was scored against in the overtime.
  • The Women's United Soccer Association suspended its operations.


  • The United States Women's National Team won all tournaments it entered, including the 2004 Olympics.
  • The U.S. Under-21 Women won their seventh Nordic Cup in eight years
  • The Under-19 Women finished third at the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship.
  • Under head coach Bruce Arena, the U.S. Men's National Team qualified for the final round of World Cup Qualifying for the CONCACAF region. The U.S. Men also finished the year with an 8-1-6 record losing only to Holland in Amsterdam and going a record 13-games undefeated.
  • The U-23 Men failed to qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 1976, losing 4-0 to Mexico in Guadalajara.
  • The U.S. National Futsal Team won the 2004 CONCACAF Championship and qualified for the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship, where the team had a strong showing with a seventh-place finish.


  • The Men's National Team qualified for 2006 World Cup in Germany and will face Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana in the group stage.
  • U.S. Women's National Team finished 2005 with a record of 8-0-1 and did not allow a goal during the calendar year (928 minutes without allowing a goal).
  • The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team's strong run through the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland ended after falling 3-1 to Italy in the Round of 16.
  • The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Soccer Team defeated Mexico 3-0 to qualify for the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship in Russia.
  • The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team lost to Holland 2-0 in its quarterfinal match of the FIFA U-17 World Championship in Peru. With the loss, the U.S. finished in fifth place for the second straight FIFA U-17 World Championship.

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