There’s an oft-used refrain that soccer is becoming more popular in the United States. This is true, but judging from unexpected success of the Gold Cup, we can use a new verb tense. Soccer has become popular in the United States.
The Gold Cup final drew approximately 8.9 million viewers, besting Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in both total viewers (8.9 million to 8.5 million) and nearly equaling the final round of the U.S. Open (9 million). It beat both sporting events in the crucial 18-49 demographic.
Keep in mind, the Gold Cup final was televised on a Spanish network and only in English on a pay package channel (Fox Soccer). The other two events were nationally televised on NBC. Those were arguably the most popular events in those two sports. The fair comparison for soccer would have been the World Cup. This was a backwater competition. [Ed. Let's not forget the Gold Cup game was played on a Saturday night - the worst night of the week for TV - in late June.]
Soccer, played by Americans, has escaped from its cultish, elitist fan bases into the mainstream. Enthusiasm arose organically without trumped up promotion. The interesting question will be whether any of that national team enthusiasm wafts over to MLS.
[Photo via Getty]