Is soccer ready to hit mainstream American culture? Or even mainstream American sports culture? After the U.S. Women’s National Team claimed their third World Cup – and after it was watched by more Americans than any soccer match in history – it’s a question worth asking, even if it has been asked before. Many times.
Soccer was supposed to arrive in 1994, when the Men’s World Cup was hosted in the U.S. for the first time; in 1996, when Major League Soccer opened play; in 1999, when the U.S. Women won their second World Cup, Mia Hamm drank Gatorade with Michael Jordan, and Brandi Chastain became synonymous with one the most iconic images in sports; in 2004, when 14-year-old Freddy Adu was hailed was the next Pelé and vaulted into professional competition before he could drive a car; in 2007, when David Beckham eschewed European power Real Madrid to play for the LA Galaxy of MLS.
We’ve been here plenty just in the past two decades. But now, for the first time, soccer has something new in America – ratings.