An Interactive Sports Experience

U.S.A. Soccer: ‘We Are Going To Brazil’

U.S.A. Soccer: ‘We Are Going To Brazil’

Jun 15, 2013

Who ever said that Americans don’t like soccer? Tell that to the 40,847 who crowded into the Century Link Field home of the MLS franchise Seattle Sounders in last Tuesday evening to watch the U.S.A. take on Panama in the 10-game final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region qualifiers for next year’s world cup in Brazil.

It wasn’t just the happy Red, White and Blue flag waving fans in the stadium that were watching the match, but the fans at home who tuned in to watch the match on television making it ESPN’s second most-watched and second highest-rated FIFA World Cup qualifying or international friendly match ever telecast, seen by an average 1.436 million viewers.

The U.S. dominated the game from the start with the American German based player Jozy Altidore scoring in the 36th minute for his third goal in three games.

Local Sounders player, Eddie Johnson added to the lead after the break much to the delight of the home crowd giving the Americans a 2-0 lead which they would comfortably hold onto for the rest of the match.

The win now puts the U.S.A. top of the group two points above Costa Rica and Mexico heading into next Tuesdays match against Honduras at a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy Utah home of Real Salt Lake.

U.S.A. coach Jürgen Klinsmann has called up Real Salt Lakes captain Kyle Beckerman to the squad that will face a Honduran side who are missing two key defenders one of whom is injured and the other suspended in a match that should the U.S.A. win, would give them 13 points and virtual qualification as the top three teams from CONCACAF go to the finals.

Following the win over Panama Seattle’s Eddie Johnson has this to say:

“Right now we’re having fun. But most importantly we’re on the same page and have one common goal which is qualifying for the World Cup, we’ve got one more game to put ourselves in a good position to make that happen.”

The crowd that turned out to support the men’s national team in Seattle was just fantastic as you can see from watching the video, it was something I had only ever witnessed in Europe where it is common to see the hard core fans, or “Ultras” as they are often referred to banging drums and singing, which proves the growth of soccer is evolving in the United States getting bigger with each year.

Rich Luker, a 59-year-old social scientist based in North Carolina, is the brains behind the ESPN Sports Poll, thinks soccer is about to take off in a big way.

“Based on the way it is trending, I believe global soccer will soon be four or five times bigger than it is today, and MLS’s fanbase will triple or quadruple,” he said.

“In 1994, MLB was as popular as the NFL. This stuff can shift quickly and right now, soccer is like a rocket ship on the Launchpad.”

“If baseball and basketball don’t adapt to this new reality they are going to have issues,”

Luker points out that in the past soccer was always looked upon as the sell-out for the kids who lacked the guts to play the tough sports like American Football, it was the sport that the moms were pushing their kids to play, yet today that social stigma has changed.

“Fewer and fewer kids are actually playing [American] football so they won’t learn the game in the way it sustained their interest in the past. It is inevitability that soccer will soon be as popular as MLB and NBA.”

Now this is the point Luker makes that I like, and it makes sense that Americans are now starting to understand that soccer is not just a sport, it is a way of life for many of us who ride the emotional rollercoaster of our team’s fortunes when he says: “It is a true community. The only group that comes close are college sports fans or followers of the Grateful Dead. They embrace soccer as a communal lifestyle as opposed to a personal experience or a community that only exists on gameday.”

For me it is the birth of the internet that is bringing the game the rest of the world loves to the United States and crowds like the one we saw in Seattle will become the norm as the game continues to grow.

Luker finishes up by saying: “My greatest delight is to look out of a plane’s window when I am crossing the country and see what people are playing in the parks below,” he said. “If you watch it like that, soccer is the biggest sport in the nation.”

You can watch the U.S.A. take on Honduras with Kick-off set for 7 p.m. MT (9 p.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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