Though soccer has never caught on in full swing in the U.S., several matches have captivated a portion of the nation. Here are the top five most-watched FIFA World Cup matches.
*denotes games that the author watched
(5) U.S.A. vs. England – 2010 South Africa – first round*
10.8 million viewers
Well, they said it was the most anticipated game in U.S. soccer history. That’s at least partially true. Thanks to ESPN’s unprecedented coverage and hype for America’s opening round match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, this game sits in the five spot for most watched soccer games in U.S. history. It also helped that the United States and England have a bit of history with each other. Just a bit…
(4) Italy vs. France – 2006 Germany – final*
12.0 million viewers
In 2006, two of the most well-known soccer nations in the world met in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Championship Game. There are alot of Italian descended folks in the U.S. and a fair amount of French folks as well. It also seems that whenever Italy plays, their fans seem to pop up out of nowhere; enough to propel this game to the number four spot on the list.
(3) U.S.A. vs. Brazil – 1994 U.S.A. – round of 16
13.7 million viewers
Surprising? The U.S. hosts its first World Cup ever and the home team finds a way to make it to the round of 16. That’s got to draw some extra viewers. It also helps that they were playing world powerhouse Brazil so the match had that underdog feel that America loves so much.
(2) Brazil vs. Italy – 1994 U.S.A. – final
14.5 million viewers
Well, the underdog Americans couldn’t pull it off but they only lost 1-0 to Brazil so that’s pretty darn good. Brazil advanced to the final and they played Italy. Two superpowers colliding for the World Cup championship on U.S. soil. Yeah, that’s going to make people want to watch.
(1) U.S.A. vs. China – 1999 Women’s World Cup U.S.A. – final*
18 million viewers
Was it the empowerment of women? Was it Mia Hamm on all those Gatorade commercials with Michael Jordan? The final of the 1999 Women’s World Cup held at the Rose Bowl was the most attended women’s sporting match in history with over 90,000 showing up to support Team U.S.A. It also is the most watched soccer match in U.S. history and will always be remembered for Brandy Chastain ripping off her shirt and celebrating in a sports bra after hitting the championship winning penalty kick.
Sources: Washington Post