Generation Zero: Founding Fathers, Hidden Histories & the Making of Soccer in America

Generation Zero: Founding Fathers, Hidden Histories & the Making of Soccer in America

by Hal Phillips
Generation Zero: Founding Fathers, Hidden Histories & the Making of Soccer in America

Generation Zero: Founding Fathers, Hidden Histories & the Making of Soccer in America

by Hal Phillips
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The Modern Creation Story American Soccer Didn't Know It Had

By the late 1980s, U.S. soccer had solidified its reputation as a global laughingstock, a sporting oxymoron akin to Jamaican bobsledding:

  • Starting in 1950, the richest, most powerful nation on Earth had gone 0 for 9 trying to qualify for the World Cup.
  • Once the North American Soccer League petered out, U.S. sporting culture proved unable/unwilling to replace it.
  • Soccer on TV? Post-1984, only the odd indoor match might be found there - late at night, on content-starved cable outlets, after competitive lumberjacking.

Today, the phenomenon of U.S. soccer development is almost taken for granted:

  • Live matches from Major League Soccer and a half-dozen foreign leagues are routinely beamed into American households, seven days a week.
  • World Cup participation is routine, thanks to wildly popular men's and women's national teams. Americans don't just compete in World Cups. We host them (the next one arrives in 2026).
  • Nationwide, millions of Soccer Moms preside over the game's grassroots, securing its growing place in the broader cultural tableau.

Generation Zero profiles this epic transformation by spotlighting the national team players and fans who made it happen. Conventional wisdom assigns American soccer progress largely to an event, World Cup '94, but history shows the tipping point arrived five years earlier. With a single victory - against all odds, on a small Caribbean island, just as the Berlin Wall fell - soccer's haphazard, indeterminate development in the U.S. instantly became inevitable, headlong growth. Raised on the game and tempered by hardship, Generation Zero produced both ends of the formative equation: a national team good enough to break through and an audience that would care, the country's first legitimate soccer fan base.

Featuring rare imagery from the 1989-90 U.S. Men's National Team photographer and candid snaps from the players themselves, Generation Zero is must-read for anyone who appreciates the fulsome futbol culture we enjoy today but wonders, "How did we get here?"

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9798986019802
Publisher: Dickinson-Moses Press
Publication date: 07/22/2022
Pages: 458
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.93(d)

About the Author

Hal Phillips is an author, journalist and media executive based in southern Maine. Generation Zero: Founding Fathers, Hidden Histories and the Making of Soccer in America is his first book-length project. Phillips blogs on all matters soccer at He posts about the world at-large at, and tweets (in fits & starts) @mandarinhal.A daily newspaper and magazine editor until 2001, Phillips has since contributed feature content to ESPN FC, Sports Illustrated,, GOLF Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Golf Digest China, Portland Press Herald, Golf Australia, McKellar, LINKS, Robb Report and dozens of other titles worldwide, some of which still exist. He was founder and host of the Unsightly American Soccer Podcast from 2009 to 2013, pioneering but effectively pre-dating the podcast movement. An all-state striker at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts, Phillips played four years of college soccer at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he double majored in ancient Greek history and modern American literature. He logged three years in the semi-pro, Greater Boston-based Luso-American Soccer Association, before heading north and playing 10 more seasons in the Maine Open League. Since 1997, he has owned and operated Mandarin Media Inc., a media consulting, content- and digital-marketing agency serving golf, travel and property clients across North America, the UK and Asia-Pacific.
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