The United States men's national team was not only a winner on the pitch at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Yanks also scored well in the television ratings, a fact that offers further evidence of soccer's growth in America.
The Gold Cup concluded Sunday in Chicago with the U.S. beating Panama 1-0 in the final at Soldier Field. Brek Shea scored the winner in the second half—his second goal and winner of the tournament—as the Yanks overcame the absence of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was banned from the touchline after being sent off in the semifinals.
Afterward, Klinsmann touted the team's success while noting the tournament's large crowds and the sport's increased popularity in the United States.
"Soccer in this country is unstoppable; you can’t stop it anymore," he told USSoccer.com. "It will get only better. It will get bigger."
The overnight television ratings from the final, released Monday, back up Klinsmann's claim. According to Soccer America, Fox drew a 1.7 rating. That was, according to the report, "the highest overnight rating for a soccer match in 2013 on any network and FOX's second-highest overnight rating ever for a soccer match."
Before Sunday, the year's previous best soccer ratings came from World Cup qualifying and the FIFA Confederations Cup. That the Gold Cup—essentially a B-team tournament—outdrew those competitions in terms of American viewers suggests that interest in both the national team and the sport in general is building.
It would be one thing if the high ratings had come from a major international final. Instead, they came from a Gold Cup final that didn't even feature Mexico, the biggest rival of the U.S.
Meanwhile, there was more good news from Spanish-language TV in the U.S. According to a Nielsen press release, via TV By the Numbers, Univision Deportes drew 4.9 million viewers to its Spanish-language broadcast of the final.
Taken together, the ratings show that soccer is continuing to grow in the U.S., just like Klinsmann said. Meanwhile, the future looks bright for the national team, which has won 11 straight matches and has all but qualified for the World Cup. Landon Donovan, who recently returned to the team after a long absence, was named the tournament's best player, and the final drew almost 58,000 fans, per USSoccer.com.
Even so, plenty of work remains, as Klinsmann noted in his remarks following the final.
"Do we need to improve many elements in the game? Yes, we all know that," Klinsmann told USSoccer.com. "You can’t stop it anymore. Soccer made it here in the U.S."
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