The World Cup and Americans: This time it will stick

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Nearly 24 hours after the United States fell to Ghana and exited the World Cup, it’s time to look ahead. I really believe that the U.S. national men’s team scored a breakthrough with American sports fans this time around, and they’ve sold many people on the thrill of international competition.

Here in Modesto in central California, one of the pubs is opening early each day to carry World Cup broadcasts, and they’s doing a brisk business. A Modesto Bee photographer was on hand when Landon Donovan scored his late goal to beat Algeria, and the video of the patrons cheering is stirring. I wish it were included in that YouTube video of fans around the nation and elsewhere who cheered the moment. It fits right in.

My brother in Washington called before the game yesterday to let me know he’d caught World Cup fever and was heading to a bar in the District to watch the U.S. play Ghana. I listened to the first half on radio while doing some yard work and came inside to watch, transfixed, the second half and extra time.

At work, the games are playing on the lunch room television set every day and people are watching, regardless of the match.

The number of Americans caring about the games will drop off precipitously now that Team USA has been eliminated, and England’s defeat today at the hands of the Germans will diminish the stateside audience even more.

But there’s a dedicated core of international soccer fans in this country who will continue to watch, and you can be sure more and more Americans will be tuned in as World Cup 2014 arrives.

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