The answer is absolutely clear; YES.
Football in the United States and Canada is so far away from the FIFA World Cup 1994. Some people use that year to nominate the United States (and Canada) as a new rookie in the football countries table. The reality was so different, and the true scale development for soccer happened with delay from that nomination.
2007 is a breakpoint for football in North America; the “Beckham effect” suddenly put the name of MLS in the world´s football table. A North American team can join a competitor player to its league; Beckham played on loan in huge European teams like AC Milan or Paris Saint Germain in the MLS off-season.
But the revolution started years ago, there was some facts helped to this situation:
- Adidas marketing strategy:
Adidas choice for soccer as key sport in United States and Canada brought the sport a global coverage and very strong synergies with Adidas-FIFA partnership
- Young soccer development:
Probably soccer is one of the most usual sports activities for boys and girls in North America. American Football controversy for brain injuries turns parent preferences to soccer.
- Hispanic power:
With more than 20% of the Hispanic population, the relevance of Hispanics in the United States is rising extremely strong with a second (and third generation) of Hispanics naturalized American.
All these facts made soccer in North America a strong reality with a solid fan base and a competitive league not just in athletic aspects but also in other business aspects that make soccer in North America a very profitable business.
The absence of two of the host countries at the Russia 2018 World Cup is just an anecdote in the consolidation of North America as a reference in football.