Prior to the 2010 World Cup, it could have been argued that the beautiful game had already surpassed hockey as the fourth most popular sport in the United States. ESPN (who is covering the tournament in South Africa) shares broadcasting rights for Major League Soccer, yet no longer broadcasts the NHL.
Team USA’s opening match against England also outdrew the first four games of the NBA finals—which featured legendary rivals Lakers and Celtics—with 17.1 million total viewers.
The Yanks' Round of 16 match with Ghana then topped that to become the most watched soccer match in U.S. history with 19.4 million viewers, just shy of the 21 million who tuned in for the game seven of the NBA Finals.
After a number of false starts over the past several decades, it looks as though soccer in America is finally here to stay.