The Collegiate Soccer Society at Michigan (CSS) is an organization at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor for college students dedicated to the sport of soccer, both domestic and international. Its mission is to bring together longtime fans and educate new ones by building a community of engaged, interconnected students. CSS is planning a virtual conference on the “Future of U.S. Soccer” to be held on November 14. We have secured commitments from leaders involved with professional soccer in the United States including coaches, players, analysts, and executives.

Soccer has become one of the fastest growing sports in the United States with the MLS, NWSL, and lower domestic leagues exploding in popularity. According to Gallup, it was the fourth most popular sport in the U.S. in 2017, and the percentage of Americans listing soccer as their favorite sport has more than doubled since 2008. There are no signs of this trend slowing down, either. The acceleration in interest has made the United States one of the last untapped potentials in the world when it comes to soccer. MLS franchise valuations have risen exponentially—for example, expansion fees have more than tripled since 2013 with Charlotte FC costing $325 million. Additionally, the NWSL has already established itself as one of the world’s top women’s leagues. With the backing of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), the reigning world champions and the most decorated women’s national team in the world, the league has serious marketing potential. On the men’s side, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) also has a bright future ahead with dozens of young players making a significant impact in Europe’s largest leagues.

All of this growth presents new challenges and opportunities for the game in the United States, such as how to make the NWSL the most attractive league in the world for top women’s players; how to balance financial incentives while increasing supporter groups’ input into MLS franchises; how to implement a system of promotion and relegation in the U.S.; how to reduce barriers to allow underserved American communities access to soccer; how to better identify prospective players for the national teams across a nation with nearly 350 million people; and so much more.

We are excited to be hosting only the third collegiate soccer conference in the United States after Yale and Princeton. The University of Michigan is one of the premier public universities in the United States boasting an alumni network of over 500,000 graduates. Its diverse student body and faculty make it an ideal institution for hosting such a conference. It is an exciting time across the U.S. soccer landscape, even with the challenges of COVID-19. The obstacles to growing soccer in the United States are significant but the opportunities are limitless.

Join us ~virtually~ November 14 to learn more about how soccer is the sport of the present and future in the United States.