The success of Team USA at the World Cup has lit up the nation. Or at least, parts of it.
The Empire State Building in New York shone in the colours of the national flag on Friday to celebrate the United States reaching the last 16 in Brazil.
In the Big Apple, Washington, and elsewhere, record numbers of people are gripped by World Cup fever.
On average, more than 20 million people watched the US team’s matches on TV, with the thrilling 2-2 draw against Portugal being the most watched football game ever in the country’s history, with 25 million viewers.
Like football fans in Europe, Americans cram into parks and bars to watch games, and spend lavishly on team shirts.
But when it comes to money, the MLS – Major League Soccer – lags way behind its big European counterparts – not to mention the big hitting sports at home.
“Major League Baseball stars make 20+ million dollars per year and your average MLS player – you have some stars who make good money – but your average salary is something like 36,000 dollars. It’s barely a livable wage in most of the cities in which these guys play,” said Noah Frank, Sports editor with WTOP Radio.
Plenty of Americans still don’t get football – but the World Cup seems to have got everyone talking about it.
Euronews correspondent in Washington Stefan Grobe said:
“Football in the United still has a competitive disadvantage against the other big professional sports, and that is money. Baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American football are multi-billion dollar operations that dominate the market. But maybe the World Cup enthusiasm is going to change that.”