Whether you call it football, fútbol, or soccer, we can all agree on one thing — the sport is growing in America.
In the late 1960s, the National American Soccer League (NASL) became the country’s first-ever established league and operated until 1984. In 1993, Major League Soccer (MLS) was established ahead of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in America with its first-ever match taking place in 1996.
Through the decades, the sport has grown tremendously with a 300 percent increase in the U.S. in the past 40 years. MLS, which kicked off with 10 teams, now has 32 clubs across Canada and the U.S.
The game changed in America in 2007 with the arrival of Englishmen David Beckham, whose prolific club and country career took him from the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and then the City of Angels as the iconic No. 7 joined the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Beckham’s arrival changed the perception of soccer in the U.S. both doemstically and abroad as his five-year stint with the Galaxy delivered two championships and a plethora of goals.
Over a decade after Beckham’s departure from MLS, a new international star will make his mark with the MLS with an unprecedented level of hype and anticipation as the sport’s undisputed greatest of all time, Lionel Messi, has entered the league — playing for Beckham’s Inter Miami CF.
Messi’s decision to join MLS is a puzzle piece and what we think is a much larger picture when added to the Women’s World Cup, Copa America and the Club World Cup being hosted in the US.
The continuous improvement and good work of all our MLS clubs across the country. And then, of course, the World Cup coming here in 2026.
It creates an incredible growth trajectory for the sport and of course, our brand.Tor Southard, Senior Director, adidas Soccer North America
Ahead of Messi’s first match on July 21, 2023, against Cruz Azul in the inaugural League’s Cup as MLS and Liga MX will battle for glory, adidas unleashed a fleet of adidas-branded vehicles in the Port of Mami including a cargo ship, boats, and helicopters decked out in Inter Miami CF pink in celebration. Once the ship docked, crates full of Messi jerseys, soccer balls, and more were loaded onto trucks and distributed to communities throughout the 305 for fans to enjoy.
As the attention of the soccer world rests on Miami, adidas’ commitment to the game goes beyond Messi and the pitch in Fort Lauderdale.
The Three Stripes has announced the expansion of the Just Ball League, the brand’s collaborative effort with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to provide free neighborhood youth soccer leagues in communities throughout New York City and Los Angeles, to Miami.
The expansion builds on adidas’ existing efforts to remove barriers to the sport and level the playing field for low-income households and Black and Brown youth.
Just Ball League will provide free, competitive soccer leagues in state-of-the-art, safe and accessible spaces for the next generation of athletes in Miami to develop their skills and experience sport the way it should be — freely.
In addition to the expansion of the game in communities and the momentum of Messi’s Inter Miami CF debut, the brand looks to capitalize on Messi’s arrival with curated collections of Miami and Messi merch, tailored to the U.S. consumer, from soccer fans to streetwear/sneaker enthusiasts alike.
Frankly, we’re really listening to consumers who are increasingly adopting jersey streetwear.
Our Originals and soccer teams are increasingly collaborating to create new and exciting looks. It’s a monumental time for our brand and I’d say for the teams more broadly.
It’s really fun to just watch all the new styles, the new trends, the new way people are styling things, and we are both leading that and collaborating and trying to get to a place where I’d say, you know, the whole culture is leaning in.
We’re really excited about the opportunity.Christine Sheehan, Senior Vice President of Brand Communications, adidas North America
To no one’s surprise, Messi’s impact has already made waves.
From selling out every match whether home or away, pink and black jerseys with his name on the back, and even a game-winning free-kick in his debut MLS match, the Messi era in Miami is here and will grow the game like no player ever could.
Over the next few years and into the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the Messi momentum will carry from the pitch into the very fabric of soccer in the country.