The common refrain over the past three weeks was that the popularity of soccer was growing rapidly in America. From MLS franchises to youth participation, everything was trending upwards. Prompted by the US's improbable emergence from the Group of Death, it certainly did seem as if enthusiasm for the sport was flourishing. The raw data, including TV ratings and Twitter interactions, is pretty undeniable. Keep in mind that the TV numbers were skewed because of watch parties like this one at Soldier Field.
That enthusiasm wasn't lost on FIFA executive Jerome Valcke, who said that due to the sport's obvious popularity within the States, the US could bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
"There is a commitment to work with US soccer," Valcke said to Brazil newspaper Globo. "What we see in the United States is staggering. The audience is unprecedented, more than the NBA. The country has the largest level of youth soccer in the world, with 20 million young people playing. I think after 2022, they have an interest in hosting the 2026 World Cup."
The US, which hosted the World Cup in 1994, lost out on the 2022 bid to Qatar, but allegations and corruption charges have lowered the odds of it actually being played there -- meaning that the US could very much be in play in eight short years.
More than 28,000 stood on Soldier Field to watch USA-Belgium on a giant screen. Imagine the support for the US side if it got to host the World Cup again. It may not be that long as 2022 -- I mean 2026, isn't too far off.