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U.S. soccer success stokes interest

Published: Thursday, June 26, 2014 8:58 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP photo)
The United States’ Jermaine Jones battles for the ball against Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger during the Group G match Thursday at the World Cup at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. The U.S. lost, but will advance to the second round for the second consecutive World Cup.

With the United States men’s soccer team advancing out of the group stage of the World Cup, the Americans have now reached the group stage four times since 1990, including a quarterfinal appearance. 

This is a big change after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup for more than 35 years. A successful run for the Americans in the World Cup could boost interest.

“It will create more enthusiasm,” Genoa-Kingston boys and girls soccer coach Randy Tate said. “We really have been moving forward as a country. This year getting out of the group should really create some interest and people get more involved.”

Players such as team captain Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard are starting to become household names after escaping the “Group of Death” on Thursday, with Portugal’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo going home. 

TV ratings for soccer have never been higher. The 2-2 draw between the U.S. and Portugal brought in 24.7 million viewers, which doesn’t include the 1.37 million who streamed the match online.

This was the most-watched soccer match ever in the U.S.

“Definitely this year, I have seen a lot of people backing the U.S. through these games, which is really cool to see,” said former DeKalb forward Morgan Beaty. “To get that support from people, not just at the high school level but the national level. There is huge support coming from all over the place.”

The U.S. women’s national team has been extremely successful (World Cup winners in 1999, 4 Olympic golds), but that doesn’t always lead to interest.

Coach Tate said G-K has continued to gain boys to play in the past few years, but the number for girls fluctuates. Tate thinks that more success at the national level will lead to improvements at the lower levels.

“With more and more people playing and more people gaining interest, we will have better coaches,” Tate said. “People that played when they were younger are now coaching and they understand it more, which would be a great improvement.”

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