Will World Cup success translate to interest in soccer?
FARGO (WDAY-TV) – The United States men’s national team survived the so-called “Group of Death” at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by a very slim margin.
All of the drama seemed to create social media fervor in the United States, with each of the three matches building off previous momentum.
The success also translates to major television ratings.
According to ESPN, the United States vs. Portugal match on Sunday drew the largest ever television audience (18.2 million) in the nation’s history for a single soccer game.
And according to ESPN soccer analysts, the amount of people watching the team’s match against Germany may have crashed the live stream of the game on the network website.
But beyond the World Cup, an event held every four years, do Americans care about soccer?
It’s a question that has been asked time and time again over several decades and one that likely will not be answered by a single generation.
However, one facet lending support to the theory that the sport will become a major attention grabber is the top domestic professional league, Major League Soccer (MLS), which seems to be growing at a fairly steady clip.
One of its most successful franchises, Seattle Sounders FC, has drawn crowds filling CenturyLink Field (home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks) on a regular basis.
In fact, statistics in a 2013 story, Sporting News showed how the league held the 3rd highest attendance average of all the major sports leagues in the United States that year.
The league currently boasts 19 teams but is looking to expand at a healthy pace in the next few decades.
And Minnesota is making a case to be among the first to land a new team.
"We'd like more teams in the Midwest,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber during a recent online question and answer session. “Minneapolis is on the shortlist."
There are several groups in the state that would like to check the Twin Cities off that list.
The Wilf family has even publicly met with the MLS about bringing a franchise to the new Vikings stadium.
So, while the sport may remain a passing interest for now—prepare for the World’s Game to invade your sports scene more than once every four years.
Click on the video link above to see what people on the streets of Fargo think of the World Cup.