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Soccer in the United States is run by different organisations. The United States Soccer Federation governs most levels of soccer in the country, including the national teams, professional leagues, and amateur leagues. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs colleges. And the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) governs schools. The match regulations are generally the same between the three governing bodies although there are some subtle differences. With an average attendance of over 20,000 per game, MLS has the third-highest average attendance of any sports league in the U.S. after the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB). It is the fourth most popular sport in the United States behind American football, baseball, and basketball. There are 4.2 million players (2.5 million male and 1.7 million female) registered with USA Soccer.
Landon Donovan is a six-time MLS Cup winner. Donovan holds the record for most assists and most goals with the U.S. Men’s soccer team. He is also the only player to ever surpass 50 goals and 50 assists for his country. A visionary midfielder with a proven ability to score goals, Donovan inspired a generation and is unmatched by his American peers.
Clint Dempsey co-holds the record for most goals for the U.S. men’s team with 57. He scored in each of the three FIFA World Cups he was at, including the fifth-fastest goal in tournament history against Ghana in 2014. Dempsey made a name for himself in the Premier League at both Fulham and Tottenham. And he remains Fulham’s highest-ever scorer in the topflight with 50.
Christian Pulisic nicknamed ‘Captain America’ could well be higher on this list in the not-so-distant future. But for now the 23-year-old is only just getting going. He started his career in Germany, winning the 2016-17 DFB Pokal with Borussia Dortmund before Chelsea snapped him up for $73 million. Making him the most expensive American player of all time. Pulisic scored one goal and assisted another in the 2020-21 Champions League semi-final, as he became the first American to play in the final.
Alex Morgan is one of seven USWNT players to reach 100 international goals. Morgan has found the back of the net at two World Cups and two Olympics. At the 2012 Games―from which the national team brought home a gold medal―she netted a winner in the 123rd minute of the semifinal against Canada.
Megan Rapinoe has more than 100 combined goals and assists, and the winger has made an indelible mark with her outstanding service. Her most memorable pass found Abby Wambach in the 2011 World Cup. That 122nd-minute stunner levelled the score, and the U.S. won on penalties.
Mia Hamm for several years was the face of soccer in the United States. The two-time FIFA Player of the Year netted a then-record 158 international goals during her illustrious career. She also owns the USWNT standard with 145 assists and is one of six players with at least 274 caps. Hamm celebrated victories at the 1991 and 1999 World Cups and 1996 and 2004 Olympics en route to the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Michelle Akkers, the first star in USWNT history, Michelle Akers set a still-standing record with 10 goals in 1991 at the inaugural World Cup. During the final, she scored both goals in a 2-1 triumph over Norway. She appeared in 155 games for her country. Totalling 107 goals and 36 assists while playing as a forward and midfielder.
The overall league structure in the USA is significantly different from that used in almost all the rest of the world, but similar to that used by other American team sports leagues. There is no promotion and relegation system between lower and higher leagues, but rather a minor league system. Generally the same as almost all other top-level pro sports leagues in North America. In addition, teams playing in American soccer leagues are not private clubs founded independently of the league that join a league to ensure regular fixtures. Instead, they usually are franchises of the league itself. Finally, the soccer leagues in the USA also incorporate features common to other American sports leagues. Most notably the determination of champions by playoffs between the top teams after the conclusion of a league season.