Soccer ball

History of Soccer in Sacramento, California

Believe it or not, Sacramento has always been a big soccer community.

Sure, the Sacramento Kings get a lot of the attention nationally (but a lot of that has to do with the fact that the NBA is, at least currently, a much bigger draw professionally), but to anyone that has lived in Sacramento for any amount of time knows that the soccer community is as robust as any other sports community in the area.

Known as the most diverse city in the United States since 2002 (according to Time magazine), it should come as no real surprise to many that Sacramento is quite as big a soccer community as it is.

Horizontal image of soccer ball being kicked by footballer

Soccer is hands-down the biggest sport worldwide (gigantic everywhere but the United States, it seems), and when people come to Sacramento they bring their love of this game with them.

If you’d like to know little bit more about the history of soccer in Sacramento, as well as where the future of soccer in Sacramento is headed, you’re going to want to check out this quick guide.

The roots of soccer in Sacramento run quite deep

Soccer didn’t really grab hold in the United States until the early 20th century, but the soccer community was thriving throughout Northern California (and in Sacramento in particular) a lot earlier than that.

In the middle parts of the 19th century the California Football League, the Western League, and a handful of other semiprofessional leagues sprung up, which led to the creation of the California State Football Association in 1902.

We mean football in the European sense of the word, and not the American football game that dominates US culture today, of course!

After the creation of the CSFA in 1902 the John O Belis Perpetual Trophy was established, and talent from all over the nation flooded into Sacramento for a chance to win this coveted tournament.

Otto Massara was also a tremendously influential figure in the Sacramento soccer community, moving from Italy to San Francisco before making his way to Sacramento, establishing leagues and creating soccer clubs along the way.

He eventually became the president of the CSFA (later renamed the California Soccer League), and after he passed away his ashes were spread all over only a field – home to some of the biggest tournaments in the area.

Soccer’s big buildout in Sacramento happened in the early 90s

The growth of soccer in Sacramento was tremendously organic through the 20th century, but in the early 90s things started to explode.

A number of professional indoor soccer and semiprofessional outdoor soccer teams started to build up major fan bases in Sacramento, with the Sacramento Knights playing at ARCO Arena for years and years. They were able to draw anywhere between 6500 and 7200 fans a night while they played, one of the highest average attendances for soccer in the nation.

During the 2010 World Cup, the average viewership rates of soccer were higher in Sacramento, and this city consistently had a top 10 listing as far as television ratings were concerned throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We’re talking about worldwide ratings here, not just in the United States!

 

The future of soccer in Sacramento is also incredibly bright.

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The woman’s national team as well as the men’s national team have all played matches in Sacramento, and more than 20 players from the Sacramento area have already played or are currently playing in the MLS. 13 players from the area have contributed to the US at the national level, and 24 players have either played or are currently playing in Europe at the highest levels of professional play.

There are a considerable amount of soccer training facilities in Sacramento, and there are more being built. The indoor game is almost as popular as the outdoor game, and even though Northern California isn’t exactly the least friendly climate to train in (pretty gorgeous all year round), the indoor game continues to build up a lot of steam as time goes on.

All in all, the future of soccer in Sacramento certainly isn’t in any jeopardy. The game continues to get more and more popular on a national level (especially after the women won the World Cup for the US this past tournament), and Sacramento is doing absolutely everything it can to grow the popularity of the sport as well!