Tomorrow night the USA take on Belgium for a place in the World Cup quarter finals, the second consecutive time the North Americans have successfully negotiated the group stage of the tournament and their third round of 16 appearance in 12 years.
Should Jurgen Klinsmann’s men clinch a place in the last eight it wouldn’t be the first time the USA will have made it so far, having been knocked out by Germany in the quarter finals of the 2002 edition, but it will definitely cap a momentous surge in popularity for the sport.
In the last 12 years the MLS has steadily seen its profile growing – Kaka could be the latest marquee import, with Orlando City looks set to welcome the Brazilian, who left AC Milan on a free transfer – and an increasing number of Americans have taken to the sport.
Pictures of US fans packing the streets of Chicago for their team’s group clash against Portugal have made it around the world and confirmed “soccer” is no longer something to be sniffed at across the Pond.
However, how do British football fans view football’s raid growth in the US?
Britain-based football lovers were polled via the smartphone app OnePulse and more than the 70% of respondents believe the current US team have what it takes to ensure football popularity’s grows even more in the States, while only 13% think Clint Dempsey & Co. will not raise the sport’s profile in their homeland.
Some 44% of the users who took part in the poll admitted the US were a much improved side from the one that reached the round of 16 on home soil in 1994, while just under the 25% of participants insist progress hasn’t been as swift as expected.
Since Bebeto broke US hearts in 1994, the North Americans might not have quite become the football power some – extremely optimistic – members of the 1994 organising committee had tipped to be, but their rise has been steady.
That’s been largely due to the development of the lovechild of the 1994 tournament: the MLS.
After a less than inspiring start during which draws were settled via penalty shoot-outs and halves ending when the stadium’s countdown clock reached 0:00, the league’s popularity began to increase and it’s 2011 the leaue drew an average attendance higher than those of NBA and NHL.
David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Clint Dempsey and, ehm, Robbie Keane all plied their trade in the MLS over the last five years, contributing to the league’s growth but British fans are still not entirely sold on the product.
Perhaps because the virtually endless offer of football on TV or perhaps due to the time difference, but only 8.4% of the fans who took part in the poll admitting watching the MLS, with 16.7% of respondents claiming they could soon be turn their TVs on to watch the next instalment of LA Galaxy vs New York Red Bulls.
Over 23% believes they might watch the MLS in a couple of years if the league’s development continues at the current rate, while the 17.8% insist there’s little chance of them taking an interest on football’s events across the Pond.
Only 13% of fans, however, completely ruled out the opportunity to watch an MLS game in the future and while that, in itself, is already a minor achievement, could more British fans take an interest in football stateside?
Considering England’s performances at the World Cup, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Will football become really big in the USA and how far can Jurgen Klinsmann’s men go? Download OnePulse now from iTunes for free and get PAID CASH for your opinions on the World Cup!