On Friday, I was on 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City and asked if soccer would become a major sport in the US on par with the four others. I said it would first topple hockey (obviously) but that it would take a truly remarkable run by the US Men’s team or legitimate stars in their prime playing in the MLS.
Or just a random World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
These are just preliminary numbers, but according to these two Tweets, the US-Mexico match last night may have outdrawn Game 6 of the Stanley Cup:
Fast national numbers for USA-Mexico qualifier: Univision/UDN averaged 4.5 million viewers. Best soccer audience for 2017. FS1 = 2.3 million
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) June 12, 2017
— Douglas Pucci (@SonOfTheBronx) June 12, 2017
I’m not good at math, but 4.5 + 2.3 comes out to… carry the 2… 6.8. The estimated range for Game 6 was 6.7-7.3. That’s not great considering the Penguins were playing in a tied, tight and controversial clinching game on NBC proper while the soccer game featured a rather uninspiring effort on a network no one watches (FS1).
The fact that a non-World Cup, non-championship soccer match went toe-to-toe with the best hockey has to offer is more indicative of soccer’s rise rather than hockey’s decline– Game 6’s 4.8 rating was up from 3.7 last year. But still, while the MLS may have a ways to go, soccer, as a sport, is big-time.