U.S. World Cup Mania Hits a Fever Pitch

Today is the big day for the United States Men's National Team (USMNT) as they face the heavily favorited Germans and look to advance to the Round of 16. Fans across the U.S. will be cheering on their team as Americans have once again embraced the global phenomenon of the FIFA World Cup. While soccer is America's largest youth sport and the popularity of the MLS is at an all-time high,
football (as is it known around the world) is still seen as an outlier when it comes to American sports spectatorship.

Yet, every 4 years when the World Cup comes around, it seems like the nation rallies around its team, soccer fans and non-fans alike. We all read the stories on ESPN, FoxSports, CNN, etc. claiming that this is the year that soccer joins the big 4 sports: American football, basketball, baseball and hockey (which compared to the other 3 is closer to soccer in viewership: 500k NHL viewers vs 200k MLS viewers). This could be very much true given that the recent match between the U.S. and Portugal was by far the most viewed soccer game in U.S. history, with a total of 25 million viewers on ESPN and Univision. If the United States can keep up this level of interest, it would go far to cement the fact that soccer is here to stay and ready to play with the big boys.

Whether or not this prediction actually comes to pass, today's result can be a huge boost to the popularity of the sport here in the U.S. The German team is highly regarded as one of the best (if not the best) teams in the world, having won the World Cup 3 times and being perennial contenders. If the USMNT can secure a favorable result (a win or draw) and advance to the knockout stage, American enthusiasm for the sport would likely follow suit and skyrocket. While soccer in the U.S. has received a World Cup "bump" before, the further the team can go, the more likely the bump is going to be a sustained increase as opposed to a short term shot to the arm.

The storyline for today's match definitely goes a long way to help build a greater interest in the sport. The coach for the USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann, is also a former player and coach for the German team. Also, yet again, the fate of the U.S.'s hopes to advance lies directly in their hands. A favorable result would qualify them without needing to rely on the result of the other match in Group G (the fated Group of Death), Ghana vs Portugal. Fans will be strong in support and if the U.S. advances, one can only imagine the fervor that will grip the nation.

Here's hoping the U.S. team gets the result they so desperately need and the sport so wants to bring American interest to the world's game. One Nation, One Team!

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