Soccer gains popularity as U.S. performance improves



I had my doubts, but I was wrong.

The United States soccer team moved on to the round of 16 in the World Cup, a huge achievement for the “Yanks,” as they are referred to by other countries participating in the quadrennial event.

My predictions for the U.S. group, known to be the “group of death,” were completely off.

The group included Germany, (beat the U.S. 1-0); Portugal (tied 2-2) and Ghana (U.S. won 2-1). The U.S. team persevered and with a 1-1-1 were able to qualify for the next round, playing Belgium this week.

The local excitement for the World Cup soccer tournament, which comes around every four years, has been unprecedented as well.

Besides Brazil, Americans bought the most tickets to the current World Cup — 200,000 tickets to be exact, according to FIFA, the organization which puts together this event.

At area restaurants, pubs and even sub shops I've visited during matches, there were barely any seats open, while some people were turned away because of long waits or capacity.

So with the exception of Ann Coulter, it’s pretty safe to say that many newcomers are keeping their eye on the soccer ball this year and learning new terms such as yellow cards and off-sides.

ESPN's coverage of the U.S. versus Germany World Cup match was the network's third highest rated World Cup game of all time.

What happened since four years ago when it was hard to get anyone to come watch the World Cup with me?

I think a new generation of sports fans are getting “it.”

While the soccer enthusiasm is fervent because of World Cup, it’s still not on par with American institutions such as the Super Bowl or World Series. But I believe there will be a surge for local soccer clubs and leagues, especially if the team continues to progress.

If not on the actual field, I can see an increase in interest from video game enthusiasts. Sure they may not put on their soccer cleats, but they will play Xbox for days.

The week of the Germany versus U.S. soccer match, a group of South Forsyth High School fencing team students traveled around Germany with Michigan and Ohio students. While there, they caught some soccer fever.

Carolyn Bass, a South Forsyth High student said, "The cheering was very loud. It's like in America, some people enjoy it and others are focusing on the cute guys."

View desktop version