When a team has managed just a single draw in 20 years against a particular opponent at a particular stadium, getting another one is a big event. When a team normally fills their ranks with players from European leagues but instead stocks the team with players from MLS due to injuries and other issues, it can be a big event. When these things impact what many people consider one of the most heated international rivalries in sport, it is big. That is what happened on Tuesday night when the US Men’s Soccer Team took the pitch at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to face the Mexican National Team and in the past two days there have been many published thoughts about what happened and what it might mean for both soccer in general and for Major League Soccer and US Soccer specifically. Who am I not to jump on this bandwagon and offer some thoughts?
The biggest thing that has jumped out to me after the match isn’t what most people have focused on, for me it has been the number 7,000,000. That is the number of people in the United States that watched the match on TV, the most ever for a World Cup Qualifying match. 4.6 million of those people watched the match on Uni Mas, while 2.4 watched the match on ESPN. That number on ESPN was 47% more than people who watched the NBA match that was showed at the same time on TNT (LA Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks), that is a huge accomplishment for US Soccer. I think the appeal of the US vs. Mexico match, along with the excitement of last week’s US vs. Costa Rica match (the snow match in Denver) sure helped boost ratings. These numbers both on of these networks were record highs for this type of programming, a great accomplishment for the networks, the teams, and for the fans of both sides.