Ruden: U.S. soccer success ignites passion

After the U.S. women won a World Cup and the men played in the Gold Cup final, soccer is on the rise in America.



Alex Morgan of the United States celebrates with teammates after scoring her fifth goal in Tuesday's 13-0 win over Thailand in the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match in Reims, France. Volkswagen's new "Inspire'' spot features Morgan, a living embodiment of "Drive Bigger'' for how she uses her platform to look out for the next generation of players and give back to the community. [ALESSANDRA TARANTINO]

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

It was a big weekend for soccer in the United States.

While the U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup title on July 7, the country seemingly found much more: a new passion.

Since the men’s team missed out on the 2018 World Cup after failing to beat or tie Trinidad & Tobago, there hasn’t been much viral following of U.S. soccer.

That all changed this summer. Over the past month, the women played in the World Cup while the men competed in the Gold Cup, a competition between nations in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Both made their respective championship matches.

On Sunday — the Day of Soccer as I have dubbed it — the women started the day with a magnificent 2-0 win over the Netherlands at 10 a.m. to capture their second World Cup title in a row and fourth overall — the most out of any country and two more than second-place Germany.

At 8 p.m., the men faced Mexico in the Gold Cup title game in Chicago. The Americans fell short after coming up empty on several chances in the first half and lost, 1-0. Still, the potential is there. The men’s squad is getting better, and star attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic showed signs of becoming the next American soccer legend.

Captain Weston McKennie also took strides, scoring 2 goals and an assist during the tournament while also displaying solid leadership skills.

Something similar formed on the women’s side. Even though they took home the World Cup in 2015 as well, they ramped it up in 2019.

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Megan Rapinoe will receive votes in the 2020 presidential election after her heroics of converting numerous penalty kicks, including one in the final against a stout Dutch side.

Alex Morgan took the social media world by storm in the U.S.’ 2-1 victory over England in the semifinals on July 2 after celebrating a goal by pretending to sip tea. Oh, and she scored 5 goals in the first game of the tournament. That also makes things fun.

Finally, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher deserves credit after an incredible save on a penalty kick against England to preserve the lead and propel the Americans into the final. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a Buffalo Wild Wings get that loud in my life.

The fun continued in the locker room, where videos surfaced of the group pounding Budweisers and chanting rap songs. The team’s Twitter account even posted videos at an after-party.

Combine the potential of that men’s team with the excitement the women’s team brings, and it’s clear that soccer is on the rise in America.

There are still steps to take, such as supporting the American men and women on their club teams throughout the season.

The World Cup happens every four years, but league competition takes place yearly. It’ll be fun.

And then the World Cup will be back before we know it, and soccer Twitter will be even more exciting than usual.

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