As Premier League football fans languish in the desert of meaningful matches and as we’ve now reached a sort of middle point between the end of the World Cup and the beginning of the Premier League season, I can’t help but to wonder if soccer grew, stayed about the same, or took a small step backward in the US this summer.
As Europe’s finest clubs cash in and tour the States as we live and breathe and as the next so called ‘major’ summer friendly tournament kicks off, ends or whatever it is ‘major’ summer friendly tournaments do, this football supporter seems to notice a tad bit of exhaling from the tidal wave that was the World Cup and more specifically the USMNT’s successful ride for three weeks this summer.
Vanished are the new soccer fans that emerged to chat from around the water cooler at the office, gone are the packed pubs full of rabid celebrations and extinct is the feeling of soccer in the air one got when simply walking out the door when the World Cup was in full force.
As quickly and as casually as the additional troops mounted to represent Uncle Sam’s Army as the boys battled in South Africa, it was equally as quick that the reinforcements left the soccer battlefields and retreated to other interests.
But in my attempts to gauge if the World Cup had any lasting effects on the popularity of the sport in this country and with help from the readers of this article, I must first look at a few obvious points I’m currently observing and quite possibly hold off on passing any judgement on my fellow compatriots until the Premier League and other European leagues resume later next month.
(For the record, I believe the lasting effects concerning growth, either positive or negative, resulting from the World Cup won’t truly be felt or known for at least a few more weeks or months, and although the casual soccer newbies have dropped off like lemmings off a cliff, it’s still possible a new generation of soccer hard-cores were conceived during the World Cup. It will be these new soccer fans, lead by their friends and others who support club teams across the world that will prove whether or not a substantial growth occurred).
Point #1. The power of the World Cup
The World Cup always brings the most casual soccer fans out of the wood work especially in this country as the sheer bigness of the event itself is usually enough to hold the attention of even the most lackluster soccer fans. The point here is that the let down of momentum the World Cup concedes after it’s capitulation is only a natural result to an event that rages on non stop for a full month. Simply stated, when there isn’t much soccer going on, people don’t watch much.
Point #2. Who is the casual fan interested in watching?
As much as I enjoy watching Premier League teams take on MLS sides who have everything to prove, how much are soccer fans attending, watching or even enjoying these pre season friendlies? Is the reception the international club friendlies receive an adequate litmus test for the popularity of soccer in the US? I think it could be, but what happens when English and European giants leave the states for home? The hardcore support will always be there, but will interest and attendances wane from the casual observer who was so hot for the USMNT and so eager to catch a glance at a Premier League club?