Although the United States has never won a World Cup, the country has produced several soccer stars, and many World Cup champions have played in the United States. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the World Cup champions who have played in the United States and their contributions to soccer in the country.
Pele - Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970)
Pele's arrival in the United States to play for the New York Cosmos in 1975 was a significant event in American soccer history. Pele was already considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time, having won three World Cups with Brazil and scoring 1,279 goals in his career.
When Pele joined the New York Cosmos, the North American Soccer League (NASL) was struggling to attract fans and gain credibility in the United States. Pele's arrival changed that almost overnight. The New York Cosmos sold out every game they played, and Pele became an instant superstar in the United States.
Pele played for the New York Cosmos for three seasons, from 1975 to 1977, during which time he scored 37 goals in 64 games. He led the team to the NASL championship in 1977, and he was named the league's Most Valuable Player that year.
Pele's impact on soccer in the United States went beyond his performances on the field. His presence and charisma helped to popularize the sport in the country and inspire a new generation of American soccer players. After Pele's stint with the Cosmos, other soccer stars began to follow in his footsteps, including Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, and Giorgio Chinaglia, who also played for the New York Cosmos and helped to establish the NASL as a viable professional soccer league in the United States.
Franz Beckenbauer - Germany (1974)
Franz Beckenbauer's arrival in the United States to play for the New York Cosmos in 1977 was another significant moment in American soccer history. Beckenbauer was one of the greatest defenders in the history of soccer and had already won the World Cup with West Germany in 1974.
Beckenbauer played for the New York Cosmos from 1977 to 1980, during which time he helped the team win two NASL championships. He was also named the NASL's Player of the Year in 1977 and was a key part of the Cosmos' "dream team" alongside other soccer legends like Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia.
Beckenbauer's arrival in the United States helped to raise the profile of soccer in the country even further. He was known for his elegant style of play and his ability to control the game from his position in defense. He was a charismatic figure on and off the field and helped to draw large crowds to Cosmos games.
Carlos Alberto - Brazil (1970)
Carlos Alberto Torres, nicknamed O Capitão , played for the New York Cosmos from 1977 to 1980, alongside other two soccer world champions, Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. He had already achieved international fame as the captain of the Brazilian national team that won the 1970 World Cup.
Carlos Alberto was known for his attacking style of play and his ability to score goals from his position in defense. In 119 regular season games and 26 playoff games, Carlos scored a total of 8 goals and was an NASL All-Star five times.
Thierry Henry - France (1998)
Thierry Henry played for the New York Red Bulls from 2010 to 2014. He was one of the most high-profile signings in the history of Major League Soccer (MLS), and his arrival was seen as a major coup for the league and for the Red Bulls in particular.
During his time with the Red Bulls, Henry was one of the best players in the league. He was known for his technical skill, his speed, and his ability to score goals. He scored 51 goals in 122 appearances for the Red Bulls, and he was named to the MLS Best XI three times during his time with the team.
Under his leadership, the Red Bulls made the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the team, and they won the Supporters' Shield, awarded to the team with the best regular season record in MLS, in 2013.
David Villa - Spain (2010)
David Villa played for New York City FC (NYCFC) in Major League Soccer (MLS) from 2014 to 2018. He was the first signing in the history of the club, and his arrival was seen as a major milestone in the development of soccer in New York City and in the United States.
During his time with NYCFC, Villa was one of the most prolific scorers in the league. He scored 80 goals in 124 appearances for the club, and he was named to the MLS Best XI twice during his time with the team.
Bastian Schweinsteiger - Germany (2014)
Bastian Schweinsteiger played for the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer (MLS) from 2017 to 2019. He was one of the most high-profile signings in the history of the Fire, and his arrival was seen as a major coup for the team and for the league as a whole.
During his time with the Fire, Schweinsteiger was one of the most influential players on the team. He played primarily as a central midfielder, and his technical skill, vision, and leadership were instrumental in the team's success. He scored eight goals and provided 11 assists in 85 appearances for the Fire, and he was named to the MLS All-Star team in 2017.