The United States may have been drawn into a brutal World Cup group for this summer's tournament in Brazil, but that won't be stopping the country's fans of the sport from attending the event and supporting their squad.
In fact, the only nation that will be better represented in Brazil than the United States is the host nation itself, according to FIFA.com:
A total of 2,577,662 tickets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup have already been allocated through all sales phases and channels to date (including the hospitality programme and other constituent groups).
The second period of the second sales phase closed today with a total of 301,929 tickets allocated for the circa 345,000 tickets originally available, which went primarily to residents of Brazil, USA, Colombia, Australia, Argentina and England (in this order).
Across all general public sales phases, 1,591,435 tickets have been allocated to supporters: 65% to Brazilians and 35% to international fans. Brazil remains the country with the most tickets assigned (1,041,418 so far), followed by the USA (154,412 tickets), Australia (40,681), England (38,043) and Colombia (33,126).
The United States was drawn into a brutal group that includes one of the tournament favorites, Germany, a Portugal side that has arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and a Ghana team that has eliminated the United States from the last two World Cups.
As a result, United States fans traveling to support their team in Brazil may find their country's tournament to be short-lived.
On the other hand, there are 31 other talented teams to enjoy at the 2014 World Cup, so perhaps the American contingency isn't going solely to support the red, white and blue, but also to take in the top talent in the world on the grandest stage of all.
That U.S. fans are scooping up so many tickets for the event certainly speaks to the growing popularity of the sport in the United States. The MLS continues to grow, while the English Premier League continues to gain a foothold across the pond.
And it's an exciting time for the United States men's national team. The squad breezed through CONCACAF qualifying and has one of the stronger sides in recent memory heading into a World Cup. Plus, highly touted 18-year-old prospect Julian Green chose to play for the Americans rather than the Germans.
Green will certainly be another reason Americans will be making the trip, as the chance to see the future of the country in soccer will be a major draw (if he sees playing time, that is). Still, United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann is trying to manage expectations for the young prospect, as he told Andrew Wiebe of MLSsoccer.com:
We don’t want to put any type of pressure on [Julian] or too high of expectations. At the end of the day, he’s a player to be developed. Developed mainly in his club from one point to the next, and we are going to help this development. How everything can then proceed is up to him. We take his pace, we take his development there and have a very close eye on him.
Be it to see Green, to be a part of the last hurrah for Landon Donovan (and potentially Clint Dempsey) on the international level, because of the growing popularity of the sport or simply the chance to enjoy all that Brazil has to offer while watching some great soccer, the United States contingency will be in full force in Brazil this summer.
The world's game is becoming the United States' game, too, and this latest news is certainly proof of that.