Though USA’s venture in the 2014 Fifa World Cup has been an emotional, and at times agonizing, the results thus far have benefited everyone with the slightest bit of interest.
For “soccer guy” in America, there have been many arguments used against people who don’t care for the sport in this country. One of the many reasons for the obvious disinterest over the years stems from a simple gripe-a lack of excitement within the sport.
However, that’s changing. The numbers show the upswing in US support for soccer. According to the Nielsen rating records for last week’s match against Portugal, the total viewership within the country reached 24.7.
That is a huge number.
Keep in mind, that does not include the millions of viewers who streamed the match via social media and online connections, nor does the measurement consider the Univision totals.
What’s the bottom line? People are watching, and people are genuinely interested. Why has the interest spiked this year as opposed to other World Cup runs?
Decision-making: Questionable decision making from US coach Jurgen Klinsmann in the ladder part of the Portugal match, screaming at the defenders to stay up on the pitch, rather than play back conservatively.
Question of effort: Sports radio stations having distraught callers comment on midfielder Michael Bradley’s lack of persistence on the back end, just before Ronaldo placed the perfect layup to tie the match.
Controversy: The added ‘extra time.’ This is a big issue (and perhaps Americans’ most hated rule within the sport). When the officials put up five extra minutes in the Portugal match, many US fans expressed displeasure with the amount of time added, thinking it should have been less. This couldn’t have been more relevant, given that Portugal tied with just 95 seconds remaining.
These are all elements of good, entertaining sports which captivate Americans’ attention. Baseball has decision-making conversations. The NBA has the topic of questionable effort. The NFL has controversy within it’s rules every single year.
These are all interchangeable elements within all popular American sports. The closer the matches in this year’s World Cup, the more intense the action becomes. The US has not played a 0-0 game, often the main repellant of any American fan desperately trying to embrace the sport.
What’s more, one team can outplay another entirely (such as Ghana did against the US in the first week) and still lose the game. One team can create more shots against the other, be more aggressive offensively for 80 of 90 minutes, and tie (such as the US did against Portugal).
The inconsistent clash between effort, execution, and actually winning seemed to have turned a lot of Americans away from the game in past tournaments. This year, it has only seemed to fuel the fire, and one could expect an even larger rating this Thursday against Germany.