There have been rumors of the U.S. embrace of soccer for quite a while now. It was going to happen in 1990, when the national team qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. And in 1993, when Major League Soccer put professional teams across the country — including the Chicago Fire. And in 1999, when the U.S. won the Women's World Cup. And in 2002, when the men advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals. And … well, truth is, it hasn't happened. The sport has made tiny inroads into the American psyche, but has never advanced much beyond a passionate subculture.
After all the false starts, it looked like that might have changed this year. The U.S. has shown more interest in what the rest of the world calls "the beautiful game."
We are not a soccer nation. (That'll happen…right after we go metric.) But more Americans, at long last, have divined an appreciation.
Look at television ratings: a 68 percent boost for the first three U.S. games compared to 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research. The last game played by the U.S. was watched here by a whopping 14.9 million on ABC and 4.5 million on Univision.
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