Say what you want about soccer, or as Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima calls it in the Kia commercials, "futbol," the 2014 FIFA World Cup has taken over the pubs, televisions, computer screens, and city squares of the U.S.A. in an unprecedented way.
This year's version of Copa Mundial being played in Brazil has captivated the USA audience unlike any soccer event since Brandi Chastain whipped off her jersey to celebrate her penalty kick that clinched a win over China in the 1999 Women's World Cup final. The matches featuring the USA Men's National Team's matches have been a ratings bonanza for the networks covering the event with a record-breaking 24.7 million viewers (18.2 million on ESPN, 6.5 million on Univision) watching the USA-Portugal game on a Sunday night game played on June 22.
Last Thursday's thrilling USA-Germany match with a mid-day kickoff time had the second-highest rating. Furthermore, ESPN released numbers that said 1.7 million concurrent viewers were logged on to WatchESPN during the game, more than the number that signed in to watch the most recent Super Bowl, according to Forbes.
The place to be though has been at a local pub with others who are passionate about the national team's attempt to match the 2002 World cup, when the U.S. reached the quarterfinals, the best result in the modern era. Today, the U.S. faces Belgium in a 4 p.m. ET for a chance to join the likes of soccer powerhouses Germany, France, Netherlands, and Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Locally, MacDinton's Irish Pub & Restaurant in St. Petersburg has averaged 600 visitors to the bar during matches featuring the U.S. and 250 during the other World Cup games, according to restaurant manager Patrick Clark. In Tampa, MacDinton's has been filled to capacity (averaging 1,000 people) for each U.S. game and close to capacity for the other matches.
"It's been exciting to have the amount of people we've had throughout the entire tournament, especially when you take into account many of the games are being played in the middle of the day," Clark said. "It's been great for business and a great way to celebrate the national team."