Football? Soccer? 10 things to know about 'the beautiful game'

Minnesota United celebrates after goal
A Minnesota United defenseman celebrates with fans after scoring a goal against Swansea City on July 19, 2014, at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.
Andy Clayton-King | Getty Images 2014

Are you ready for some football? Major League Soccer is headed to Minnesota.

MLS officials announced Wednesday that Minnesota will be the home of a new soccer team. The owners also announced plans to build an open-air stadium in Minneapolis.

1.) What's the history of professional soccer in Minnesota?

Pro soccer came to Minnesota in 1976, when the Minnesota Kicks relocated from Denver. The team, which played for six seasons in the North American Soccer League, eventually folded.

In 1984, the Minnesota Strikers played one season with the NASL before moving to the Major Indoor Soccer League. The franchise folded in 1988.

In 1994, the Minnesota Thunder moved up to the pro ranks after five seasons as an amateur team. But in 2009, the team was also dismantled.

The following year, the Minnesota Stars was formed. The team was owned and operated by the National Sports Center in Blaine. The Stars changed hands in 2011, becoming a NASL-owned franchise. It was sold in 2012 to Bill McGuire, the former UnitedHealth Group CEO, and in 2013 renamed Minnesota United FC.

2.) Who would a Minnesota team play? How many clubs are in the MLS?

MLS expansion timeline
An MLS expansion timeline map.
Courtesy Major League Soccer

There are two conferences — eastern and western — and 20 clubs in the MLS.

League officials have said they would like to expand to 24 teams by 2020.

3.) Why Minneapolis?

In October, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said adding another Midwestern team to the league is "a priority."

On Wednesday, Garber cited "the area's growing millennial population and the region's rich tradition of supporting soccer at all levels" as reasons for choosing the Twin Cities.

4.) Where would they play?

Swansea vs. Minnesota United
Swansea City's Jonjo Shelvey battles with Minnesota United's Jamie Watson (12) in the second half of their match in July 2014.
Andy Clayton-King | Getty Images 2014

Presumably at a yet-to-be-built stadium near the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

If a new sports stadium is built, it would be the state's third in 10 years and would cost between $100 million and $150 million.

It's unlikely to receive state funding, if the immediate reaction of state lawmakers is any indication. State officials have reiterated their opposition to a public subsidy for the project.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has warned that backers of an MLS franchise should not ask the Legislature for public money for a new stadium.

In the Republican-led House, Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin have said there will be no public money for a Major League Soccer stadium.

5.) Why do Americans call it "soccer" when much of the world calls it "football?"

Would you believe that "soccer" also a British term?

Here's more from Ask HISTORY:

"Modern soccer was born in 1863, when representatives from several English schools and clubs got together to standardize a single set of rules for their matches. They dubbed their new organization the Football Association, and their version of the game became known as 'Association Football.' The word association was used to distinguish their specific sport from other popular games of the day, such as 'rugby football.'

The word soccer comes from a slang abbreviation of the word association, which British players of the day adapted as 'assoc,' 'assoccer' and eventually soccer or soccer football. (The habit of adding -er to nicknames in British vernacular is frequently attributed to Oxford students of that period, and can be found in other sporting slang such as 'rugger' for rugby.)"

For years, soccer and football were used interchangeably. In the early 20th century, soccer caught on in the United States as a way to differentiate from American football.

Then, as Uri Friedman wrote in The Atlantic, "In the 1980s, however, Brits began rejecting the term, as soccer became a more popular sport in the United States."

6.) OK, I'll give soccer a shot. What are some basic rules and terms I should know?

• There are two 45-minute halves in a match.

• Each team has 11 players on the field during a game, in four positions: forward, midfielder, defender and keeper.

• A yellow card means a player has committed a foul (think of it as a warning); a red card means a player has committed a particularly egregious foul and is ejected from the game. Two yellow cards also equal a red card.

• "Bend it like Beckham" isn't just a movie — it's a real thing. Skilled soccer players have the ability to kick the ball so it curves or "bends" around or over opponents.

7.) Is soccer really growing in popularity in the United States?

If last summer's World Cup is any indication, yes.

The World Cup final set a U.S. television record with 26.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched soccer match in American history.

On Facebook, 48 million people in the United States joined the conversation about the World Cup from June 12 through July 13, second only to Brazil.

During the final, 10.5 million people in the United States were among the 88 million who had more than 280 million Facebook interactions, the company said. That was more than the 10 million in Brazil, and the 7 million in Argentina and 5 million in Germany, the two countries that actually battled for the trophy.

FIFA, the ruling body of international soccer, also told CNN that U.S. fans were more active on its websites and apps than any other country.

8.) What are the most valuable clubs worldwide?

Two Spanish teams dominate.

Real Madrid is No. 1 with a current value of about $3.4 billion. Forbes reports it generates more revenue than any other sports team in the world. (During the 2012-13 season, its revenue was $675 million.)

In comparison, the Dallas Cowboys has a team value of $3.2 billion and its revenue in 2013 was $560 million, according to Forbes. Turning back to soccer, Barcelona comes in a close second with a value of $3.2 billion; the English team of Manchester United rounds out the top three with a team value of $2.81 billion.

9.) How competitive is the United States on the world stage?

USA v. Belgium
Vincent Kompany of Belgium tackles Clint Dempsey of the United States during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 in Salvador, Brazil in July 2014.
Laurence Griffiths | Getty Images

The U.S. Men's National Team has played in seven consecutive FIFA World Cups and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002, according to U.S. Soccer.

The women's team has won two FIFA Women's World Cups, four Olympic gold medals and one silver medal. It's an accomplishment no other country has reached at the Olympics, on both the men's and women's side.

10.) Who are the biggest stars in soccer right now?

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Lionel Messi of Barcelona.

They're the world's highest-paid soccer players.

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