World Cup 2014: The year the US fell in love with the beautiful game?

USMNT fans in Washington D.C

USMNT fans in Washington D.C

With more traditional sports such as baseball, football and basketball competing for the attention of the average American sports fan it’s no wonder that soccer has taken a back seat in the past. However, with big name players making moves to the MLS, the growing profile of the national league and an impressive display from the national team it’s no surprise people in the states paid attention to this World Cup like they had no other before.

When it came to what would the USMNT’s last game in the competition, USA vs Belgium, an estimated 14 million* left work early, Soldier’s Field in Chicago and Petco Park in San Diego opened their doors to tens of thousands people to watch on the big screens, Barack Obama watched in the White House, thousands gathered in Bryant Park in New York City and outside City Hall in Boston.

There was no denying it, the United States had caught the bug. It’s no surprise, this World Cup has been rich with drama and excitement and the USMNT has been no exception. A late winner against Ghana in their opener, a late equaliser stole the win from them in the dying seconds against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and a brave, all be it defeated, performance against Germany.

Their last game was no different. Belgium had the better chances but Tim Howard, who broke the World Cup record for most saves in a game with 15, looked unbeatable in the US goal. When full time comes and someone has changed Wikipedia so it reads that Howard is the new Secretary of Defence for the United States, you know he probably had a pretty good game.

Two goals in extra time proved a mountain too high for the USMNT despite Julian Green’s late goal but Jurgen Klinsmann’s men exited the competition with their heads held high. I’m not suggesting that soccer is going to become the most popular sport in the US, I’m suggesting that the exploits of the national team have helped the worlds most popular sport develop a new fan base across the country.

Expect to see a lot more USMNT jersey’s, especially Howard ones and I dare say the team will find themselves with a higher level of media interest and fan attendance come their next game.

Will the US sustain this excitement for the beautiful game over the long four year wait for the next World Cup? Only time will tell.

 

*Estimation made by Yahoo Finance.

Follow Alex on twitter @alexsimonmeakin

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