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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2010
Gary Hopkins provides a terrific inside view of the extra-ordinary growth of soccer in the US over the last two decades.He is able to chronicle the quantum changes that were wrought by the ascendancy of Steinbrecher, Rothenberg, Gulati and Garber to the helm of the sport in the United States.

While Hopkins played a significant role himself he does not dwell on his own contributions but instead examines how a unique mix of personalities, corporate interests and FIFA's desire for a greater presence of soccer in the US came together with immaculate timing for the development of the game. Using his strong personal relationships he also takes us behind the scenes revealing the enormous leaps of faith required for the US to host the 1994 World Cup, the Womens' World Cup in 1999, and to initiate and sustain MLS through its early struggles.

This is however no dry academic study of the economic forces and management strategies that influenced soccer's development. His book has sufficient focus on the personalities of the major players and has enough humor to make it an easy read.

While his view of the future of soccer in America may indeed be overly influenced by his European roots he knows whereof he speaks. And who knows, he may be right!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2010
It's hard to knock Gary Hopkins for tackling such an ambitious topic - how the '94 World Cup really paved the way for the sport's success here in the States. But with that ambition, a tremendous amount of research, interviews, and critical analysis had to be undertaken to truly examine the idea and reach a sound conclusion. Unfortunately, Hopkins failed to accomplish little to any actual research, other than his own first-hand account of what the nation's soccer pulse was during his time in States as a marketing man and journalist.

Hopkins relies far too heavily on his own memories, and fails to support his ideas and conclusions with any hard evidence, other than an occasional rudimentary graph or basic statistic. By the time I reached the halfway point of the book, all I could do is wince at some of the generalities he kept feeding the reader (like how soccer isn't "Dad's sport" or how the nationa's soccer-playing kids will someday steer the U.S. towards becomeing a "true" soccer nation). To make matters worse, he bashes baseball and American football at the expense of promoting soccer, which clearly hints that the British-born author has no concept of the mindset or disposition of the American sports fan. The more I read, the more it became evident that this was no more than one man's personal diary of what he thought contributed to the success of soccer here in the States.

Of course, the icing on the cake is his unabashed praise for the Who's Who of American soccer, i.e. Hank Steinbrecher, Alan Rothenberg, Mark Abbott, David Downs, Sunil Gulati, etc, all of whom, in Hopkins' view, turned everything they touched to 24K gold. It's embarrassing, really, to see an author bend over backward to dole out the praise without a single scent of criticism (i.e. the many bridges burned by Rothenberg's orchestrated FIFA election as USSF President) or objective analysis.

All you need to know about this title is contained in the sterling reviews provided by Rothenberg, Abbott, Steinbrecher & Co. This book, from start to finish, is an ode these men, with supporting, severely-biased evidence provided none other than by the author himself. Do yourself a favor: skip this book entirely and read Filip Bondy's thoroughly-researched and impeccably-reported "Chasing the Game" for an authentic analysis of soccer in the United States.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2015
The history of US Soccer is a long, detailed and fascinating story. It is clear that Hopkins did a LOT of research for this book and, although he leaves out many of the uglier behind-the-scenes details and corruption that went on in the early days, there is a lot of good information here. As a reader, I feel like I learned quite a bit about the history and marketing of US Soccer that I didn't know before. On that level, the book largely succeeds. However, there are numerous errors littered throughout the text that completely destroy any enjoyment I may have gotten out of reading it.

A few examples of errors that can be found JUST in the first 50 pages:

- Franz Beckenbauer is repeatedly spelled as "Beckenbaur".
- Sven-Goran Eriksson is spelled as "Erickson".
- Scott LeTellier is spelled as "Letetellier".
- A match between England and the USA that was played in 1993 is dated as happening in 2003.

In addition to the misspelled names and factual errors, there are numerous run-on sentences, questions that end in periods, and FAR too many sentences that end in exclamation points. (Remember that episode of "Seinfeld" where Elaine's boss at Pendant Publishing yells at her because she put too many exclamation points in the author's manuscript? Same problem.) I work as an editor myself and if I ever turned in a manuscript with this many errors, I would be fired on the spot.

I am a longtime fan of Major League Soccer and of course I support the US national team wholeheartedly. I had hoped "Star-Spangled Soccer" would be the definitive book to learn about the growth of our national game over the last 25-30 years. Unfortunately, this is not it and I cannot recommend the book to anyone else.

Should Hopkins ever decide to update this book to include more recent events (the USA's achievements at the 2014 World Cup, New York City FC, Orlando City SC, etc.), I sincerely hope he recruits a proper editor next time. He desperately needs one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2010
I'm a soccer (football) fanatic, an Englishman who has lived in this country for 20 years. I love the USA, but it has frustrated me how the world's most popular spectator sport has never seemed to reach a tipping point in terms of media coverage or commercial viability compared to the big four sports (Baseball, American Football, Basketball, and Hockey).

I wanted to understand the rise and fall of commercial soccer in the USA. What happened to the era of the Cosmos and the NASL? What is different about the MLS and can it achieve sustainable success and join the ranks of the big four?

This book delivered. The links between the USA national team in the world cup, the grass roots explosion of participation in soccer, and the comparison of the MLS with the NASL is comprehensively explained. Hopkins also identifies problems with scouting the youth level talent, and prescribes financial drivers that will help the MLS survive and thrive.

The book is well written, well organized and contains essential original insight into the business of soccer in the USA. I highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
Ever considered investing in soccer? Running a soccer related business or making soccer your career? Then you need to read this book, cover to cover!! A first hand, blow by blow account of the politics and business of soccer in America from the heights and depths of the NASL in the 80's, the World Cups of the 90's and beyond and the gut wrenching decisions behind the emergence of the MLS as a viable first division in North America.

A detailed history from all sides of the soccer landscape that make up the current US soccer scene. While detailing the brutal reality that has been the financial history of soccer on our shores, the book is overtly optimistic in its outlook as the politics and businesses in US soccer have become much more professional and sophisticated. Learn from someone who intimately experienced some of the most important events in the last 20 years. Events that have allowed the US to transform its soccer nation from a CONCACAF also-ran to a team respected on every continent.

If you consider yourself a soccer person, Star-Spangled Soccer is a must read.
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on March 16, 2013
It is difficult to find contemporary, scholarly, extensive and well-written accounts of soccer focused entirely on the USA. Probably because these sorts of books just don't sell very well. This book does an excellence job of discussing American soccer over the last 30 years or so, from an insider's perspective. This very easily could have wound up being a boring and dry discussion of numbers. Thankfully that is not the case. Hopkins is a talented, funny writer who presents data, as well as league/US soccer history, in an interesting and approachable fashion. I can only hope more books like these come out in the coming years.
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on June 5, 2013
It is well written, easy read that explains a lot about basics of soccer in general mixed with marketing strategies.
This book is for the fans and for the people not familiar with soccer as well. I recommend it.
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on August 24, 2012
IF YOU'RE A SOCCER FREAK, AS I AM, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. THE STORY OF SOCCER IN AMERICA IS FASCINATING. AMAZON YOU DID IT AGAIN, ON TIME AND IN FIRST CLASS CONDITION.

STEVE HYDE
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