WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – The USA, Portugal World Cup game Sunday was the most watched U.S. soccer match in history with more than 18 million viewers, which some in Westchester say reflects an uptick in America’s interest in the international game.
Chris Fry, who works in White Plains and lives in Tarrytown, said he thinks a combination of changing demographics and a better USA team have helped grow interest in soccer, especially during the World Cup.
“The U.S. has put some resources behind their soccer team finally,” he said, while sitting outside his office in White Plains Monday afternoon. “It’s actually quite amazing how much attention is being paid to the World Cup in the U.S. this year, when we’re traditionally not a soccer country.”
White Plains resident Anna Zepeda, a Mexico fan, said she has also noticed more people following the World Cup than in past years.
The USA team tied Portugal 2-2 Sunday, after giving up a goal in the last 30 seconds, which surprised and disheartened many.
Brandon Colean, of Yonkers, said he thinks USA let their guard down.
“There’s 30 seconds left and they’re all professionals. That’s not ok,” he said.
The U.S. team would have secured its place in the round of 16 if it held onto its lead against Portugal. Now, it needs a win or a tie to advance, with all four teams in its group still in contention. It plays again Thursday against Germany, which previously defeated Portugal 4-0.
Matt McKenna, a retired professional soccer player, who lives in Finland and is visiting his in-laws in Scarsdale, said he will be rooting for Germany Thursday.
“It’s going to be very very tough match for the U.S.,” he said. “They both have the understanding that only one point is needed to get through to the next round. So maybe they won’t play too aggressively toward each other.”
Few are giving the U.S. team a chance against juggernaut Germany, including White Plains resident Arturo Fierro and his son Oscar, 11. Both said the U.S. team is playing well, but will struggle against Germany. They are also rooting for their homeland’s team, Mexico, which defeated Croatia 3-1 Monday.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle but better chances than we’ve ever had in the past,” Fry said of the U.S. team.