Say what you want about the popularity of soccer in the United States. It's here and it's not going anywhere.
After World Cup matches featuring the United States national team set records throughout the tournament, the Final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup between Spain and the Netherlands drew 24.3 million Americans to television sets throughout the country.
This is the highest viewing rating of a professional soccer match ever in the United States, surpassing the 19.4 million that watched Ghana top the Yanks in extra time in the Round of 16 this year.
Soccer matches have been setting records throughout the country in recent years. On May 25th, I was fortunate to be part of a crowd of 36,218 when the United States took on the Czech Republic. That crowd was a record for a professional soccer match in Connecticut, a state the United States has visited several times in recent memory.
This summer is filled with dates to put on the calendar. Manchester United comes to the United Sates to take on the Philadelphia Union, Kansas City Wizards, and the MLS All Stars at Reliant Stadium. Expect all three to be sellouts.
I tried a couple days ago to get tickets to the match between Celtic and Sporting Lisbon at Fenway Park. They only have the big VIP seats left. AC Milan will return to the US for an August 6th match with Panathanaikos and city rivals Inter Milan travel to Baltimore to take on Manchester City.
Then, of course, is the granddaddy of them all: the United States against Brazil, where 80,000+ are expected to fill the New Meadowlands Stadium on August 10th.