Has soccer arrived in America? ABC/ESPN and Univision certainly think so -- they paid over $400 million combined to air the World Cup on their stations. The mainstream media think so as well -- the World Cup has been featured on the covers of Time, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated and newspapers around the nation. But the surest sign that soccer has hit the big time in the States? Matt Drudge thinks so.
Last night the Drudge Report website led with the speculation that World Cup organizers might ban the vuvuzela horns. Earlier in the day he led with a picture of poor Robert Green looking hapless. You may not think much of his politics, but Drudge still has an uncanny ability to shape and direct traditional news coverage. He knows his audience, and if there wasn't a market for soccer in the States, he wouldn't be featuring it on his site.
MLS players have no real profile and play in relative anonymity -- they are not characters in a larger drama the way Wayne Rooney, or John Terry, or Didier Drogba are. We have not yet shared the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat with them. We don't know them off the field -- heck, we barely know them on the field. We learned more about Landon Donovan in his short stint at Everton than we ever did during his tenure in LA.
That's not going to change overnight. But change it will. Soccer is starting to seep into the popular consciousness. Drudge has got his finger on the pulse -- and its beginning to beat faster.