Team USA's run in the World Cup drew more eyeballs in America than previous years. Ratings for the group's loss to Belgium Tuesday set a record as the highest viewed World Cup match ever on ESPN. That could be because soccer is growing here in the U.S. and KELOLAND.
Crowds gathered all over the United States to take in their soccer team's World Cup experience and that was no different for Tuesday night's match with Belgium.
"This year I feel like it's a little bit different to be honest. There's such a big following across the United States. More so than probably any other World Cup here I think," Weiler said.
Dale Weiler is the Competitive Coordinator for Dakota Alliance in Sioux Falls. While he doesn't attribute his clubs growth over the years to the World Cup, he is happy to see a buzz around the sport.
With 5,400 athletes taking part, Dakota Alliance is already the largest youth sports organization in the state and growth is only headed in one direction.
"Soccer in this country can only go one way, it can only go up just because at a youth level it's the most popular sport that kids are playing or the most frequent sport that kids are participating in. So it can only grow from there," Weiler said.
The talent level is growing too and many student-athletes are starting to take advantage of available scholarships. This year Weiler says more than a dozen from the area signed letters of intent to play college ball.
"There's no doubt, every single year we've got players coming out at the U18 age group and playing college soccer. I think this year we had on national signing day about 20 total kids that are seniors that are eventually going to start playing college soccer here soon," Weiler said.
If you've caught the soccer bug from this year's World Cup and would like to watch more professional soccer, check out our sister station MyUTV. That's where live broadcasts of Sporting K-C, a Major League Soccer franchise from Kansas City, can be found. The next broadcast takes place July 12.