BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. -- There is no doubt Americans are more interested than ever before in World Cup soccer. When the U.S. defeated Ghana, it was ESPN's largest audience ever for a men's soccer match. Ever. That said, we're just finally catching up with the passion that other countries display when their teams take to the pitch.
"I do not think the USA is that far behind," says Gordon "Fergie" Ferguson.
Fergie runs Kickers Soccer Club in Brooklyn Park. In the 19 years since he came over from Scotland, Fergie says soccer has grown by leaps and bounds in popularity. He says that's likely because it has finally become a generational sport in this country.
"Now it's branched down from moms and dads actually playing the game, now their sons and daughters are also playing," he says.
According to the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, there are more kids playing soccer than any other youth sport in this state. So why is it not carrying on into adulthood? There are simply fewer opportunities. As kids grow up, there are fewer leagues and not nearly the amount of scholarships available as in other sports, so kids switch. Fergie says that tide seems to be shifting.
And as far as adults go, technology is sure helping to bring new fans to the sport. We now have more access to games on television. People are talking about it in real time on Twitter and other social media outlets, which makes it far more appealing to those who've never followed before.
Oddly enough, the Minnesota Vikings sure hope to get involved in this new-found fervor. Major League Soccer is hoping to expand and the Vikings want one of those expansion teams to share their new stadium home.
"Last year Major League Soccer averaged 19,000 fans league-wide, which is more than NBA, more than NHL. We think this is a great market and the MLS likes this market, so we think there's a great opportunity there," says Lester Bagley.
But until then, you'll have to settle for a professional match happening in the Twin Cities this summer. You can watch Manchester City take on Olympiacos FC at TCF Bank Stadium on August 2nd at 2 p.m.
Click here for more information and to buy tickets