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Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America's Forgotten Game

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  166 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
David Wangerin's humorous and thorough book tells the story of American soccer's long struggle from the brief promise of the 1920's, through the euphoric highs and extravagant follies of the North American Soccer League, to today's hard-won acceptance.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 28th 2008 by Temple University Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 31, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it
as i have become soccer obsessed lately, almost anything related to the game interests me. this was well-researched, well-written, and informative. it was perhaps not as revelatory and exciting as How Soccer Explains the World, but it did make me nostalgic for the old NASL. Go Dips!
Oct 06, 2013 Jon-Erik rated it liked it
The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game in the 2000 Olympics to Chile. Some of the players on that team, like Landon Donovan and Tim Howard would go on to be greats for the senior team and play at the highest levels in Europe. Yet according to Wangerin, the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2000 Olympics by losing to Guatemala.

In a book loaded with historical facts, it's easy to forgive a single mistake. But this fact is deeply ensconced in an argument about the ineffectiveness of one of MLS's youth
Tom Lynch
Jun 25, 2014 Tom Lynch rated it really liked it
A very interesting book which charts the often hidden history of football in the United States. It is informative, entertaining and surprising. The history of football in the United States is actually lengthy, and one that predates a lot of the traditional footballing powers. Indeed, the United States was one of the first countries outside of Britain to adopt the sport. David Wangerin shows how the development of football games and codes prior to standardised rules were pretty much the same in ...more
Margaret Sankey
Mar 20, 2014 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
In 1900, every dirt lot behind a factory and every green space not staked out by cops had a soccer ball being kicked around by emigrant young men, while gridiron football was an ivy league college fad--so how is it that a century later, football captured the blue collar ethos of "America's game" while soccer is effeminate and foreign? Wangerin attempts to explain it through messed-up leagues, bad timing and a slow American media, but doesn't want to go right out and say that soccer leagues have ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book, even though there were a lot of thing I already knew. I loved learning more about the history of soccer in the US back in the 20's and 30's. It's an excellent history of soccer in the US from the beginning to just a few years ago. It was printed in England, so there are some occasional Brit spellings, plus some occasional references to it being a 'scorching 45 degrees' for the '94 World Cup. It's also a wonderful reminder of just how unlikely and amazing it is that we even ...more
Josh Mlot
Jun 29, 2016 Josh Mlot rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for fans of soccer in this country (the United States) who haven’t already studied up on their history. Even for me, and I consider myself knowledgeable (though far from an expert), it was fascinating and entertaining. Even with all the information that gets thrown at you, Wangerin never takes himself or the book too seriously, which makes it a fun read that doesn’t get bogged down in trying to just teach you a bunch of stuff. Yet you still learn a ton.

Recommended to anyone i
May 06, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
I feel the author really had a lot of information to present, and I did learn some interesting things along the way, but I feel the largest weakness was a lack of organization of material within each of the chapters. In discussing a particular period of history, for example, he would get off on a tangent and would run that thought through 30 years past the period or event being discussed before returning to the topic. When he did this, it rarely was a reflection of the past event on a future ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Beau rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, soccer
The definitive history of American soccer -- not shirking away from controversies and not suggesting simple solutions to complex problems. I've written a soccer history book myself, but I'd be the first to tell you that this is THE book U.S. soccer fans must read. (Then be nice and read mine.)

It's a shame David was only able to write two books before his untimely passing. We should be glad he was able to produce this masterwork.
Dec 26, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seldom do we get treated to a history (I hope this was accurate!) of American soccer. I appreciate how this work also delves into the origins of modern sports in the US and how much universities were involved. For those who love this game, I think this book offers the chance for us New Worlders to sculpt the game in our image much as we have with other sports; the way forward is with a clear view of the game's history and mindful of it's future.
Oct 05, 2009 Joan rated it really liked it
A bit dry, but man, what good history and information. As a soccer fan, I appreciated the echoes of MLS's past in the previous leagues, in its failures and successes. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it? And those who learn their lessons well (oh hey, Seattle, icu!) will reap their rewards no doubt! Onwards :D
Oct 27, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
An excellent history of soccer in America, including the early years that are typically forgotten or ignored by today's soccer fans. Reading the more recent chapters reminded me of several key moments in U.S. soccer history that I either watched or attended.
Apr 18, 2014 Tobias rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2014
A good overview of a century of soccer played in the US. And if you're a fan of the absolutely bonkers names given to some NASL-era teams (the Columbus Xoggz, anyone?), you'll find plenty to savor here.
Mar 20, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it
Read this due to my continuing obsession with soccer. It was really fascinating to read about the US leagues in the early 20th century that actually were pretty decent/popular! I had no idea there was much of anything resembling soccer leagues in the US before the NASL.
May 08, 2013 Henryk rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book. Engaging and considered analysis of the United States' bumpy soccer history. The historical antecedents of today's MLS is well laid out and the cautious optimism of the conclusion is slowly being realized.
Jim Reineking
Jul 27, 2014 Jim Reineking rated it it was amazing
So thorough and enlightening ... So much soccer history in America that nobody -- except the author -- really knew went down.
Jun 23, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: football
WELL done here. Great history of footy in the US. Well researched, well written and super detailed. Also amazingly depressing!
Scott Lyons
Sep 02, 2014 Scott Lyons rated it it was amazing
Pretty solid history of American soccer, going back all the way to the late 1800s and the origins of the sport.
Jan 24, 2016 John rated it really liked it
An excellent review of soccer in the Unites States. Really a must read for fans interested in the history of the game in the US.
Isaac Kerson
Jan 20, 2015 Isaac Kerson rated it it was ok
In desperate need of an central, organizing thesis to hold the book together and compel the reader.
Doug Williams
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