Is World Cup fever catching hold in America for the first time? That’s the question. Video reactions to Landon Donovan’s stunning match-winning goal in extra time (see examples after the jump) are popping up from all over the country. The ratings for the 1-1 draw with England was seen by 13 million people on ABC, the largest audience to watch the U.S. soccer team since the 1994 World Cup at home. The controversial 2-2 draw with Slovenia was seen by 5.2 million viewers and 3.9 million homes — the most households for soccer in ESPN’s history. The Algeria ratings should come in today.
This seems like World Cup fever. Big name athletes from other US sports are talking up the game and the team. Pubs across the country are filling up on match days with fans, but will any of this take hold with American sports fans after the tournament ends? That’s a multi-billion dollar question for the MLS and ESPN, who is betting big on soccer for the first time.
But the US team has been here before. They narrowly lost out to Germany in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. Some said soccer would explode in this country as a spectator sport soon after. At best it’s been more of a slow burn.
Today’s poll is a simple one, and it’s only for self-described non-soccer fans. What does team USA’s win and advancement into the last 16 mean to you and your feelings about the sport?