Last updated: June 24. 2014 10:12PM - 355 Views
By - sstinson@civitasmedia.com - 910-817-2671

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Let’s be honest.

The majority of us have little or no interest in soccer except every four years when the World Cup takes center stage. And the same can be said for just about all the sports in both the summer and winter Olympics.

It’s OK to admit that we stick with baseball, basketball, football, golf and NASCAR. Because after all, the TV ratings prove it.

When John Brooks found the back of the net with his header to give the U.S. a surprising win over Ghana in the team’s first game in the World Cup, social media exploded.

Brooks became a superstar as his name was trending worldwide on Facebook and Twitter.

Until he scored, most Americans had no idea he was on the men’s national team. In fact, Americans probably would have a problem naming anyone on the squad that wasn’t Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard.

And that is only if Americans remembered Dempsey and Howard were on the previous World Cup squad.

The die-hard soccer fans who can recite statistics of their favorite players on Manchester United or Liverpool, cringe when we Americans jump onto the soccer bandwagon during the World Cup.

When it comes to having national pride as our teams are battling the rest of the world in any sport, we as Americans are happy to wave the Stars and Stripes and chant “USA! USA!”

The rest of the time it seems like we can’t be bothered with soccer, hockey or curling.

After the U.S. team’s victory over Ghana, more casual soccer fans decided to check out the happenings against Portugal Sunday evening.

And the ratings went through the roof.

It was the most-viewed soccer match in this country’s history. The ESPN broadcast averaged just over 18 million viewers and peaked at just over 23 million.

Just how much interest was in this contest? After Sunday’s U.S. Women’s Open final round and the press conference with the champion Michelle Wie, the big screen TVs in the media center were switched to the match. Even Major League Baseball players adopted the “I believe we will win” mantra.

So when Dempsey scored what seemed to be the game-winning goal against Portugal and send the U.S. into the round of 16, soccer became the national sport.

It didn’t last because soccer success and the men’s national team rarely go hand-in-hand.

With just moments left in the extra time, Silvestre Varela somehow managed to get free and converted a header to tie the score.

And the Americans had the rug pulled out from under them.

Just another normal day in the World Cup.

The U.S. team will play its final match of group play against Germany noon Thursday. The big question is following Sunday’s heartbreak, will the casual fan return to see if the U.S. can advance to the knockout stage?

Since we are being honest, the answer is no. But if the U.S. grabs the lead on Germany, social media will prompt people to find a TV.

Because even though there is a saying that Americans love underdogs, we love jumping on a bandwagon even more.

Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.

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