Sunday's 5-2 demolition of defending champion Japan capped a magical tournament for the U.S. women – they truly did get better in every outing in their seven-game run to the title. Carli Lloyd's hat trick within 16 minutes won her the Golden Ball award as best player, Hope Solo was named best goalkeeper, and most all-tournament teams were packed with more Americans: Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan.
And people noticed. The championship final averaged 25.4 million viewers on Fox, making it the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history, according to Nielsen. The previous U.S. viewing record was 18,220,000 for the USA-Portugal game at last summer's men's World Cup, and before that it was the 17,975,000 for the 1999 Women's final, the last time the U.S. won the Cup. Sunday's average audience beat every game of the NBA Finals, and average viewership throughout the tournament was up 21% from 2011. Telemundo broke records as well, and between the two, they topped the previous mark of 26.5 million viewers set for last year's men's World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. Austin ranked fifth in the nation in market share at 19.1% of all viewers; Kansas City and St. Louis led the way at 20.6% and 20.5%... The words "Pearl Harbor" typically get around 500 Twitter mentions per day, according to the analytics website Topsy. On Sunday this spiked to more than 50,000.
Now it's the men's turn: The U.S. opened group play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Tuesday night in Frisco, Texas, with a less-than-convincing 2-1 win over Honduras, a fellow qualifier for last year's World Cup, and likely the Americans' toughest opponent in Group A. Both goals came from Clint Dempsey, recently demoted from his captain's role "to take the pressure off" and let him concentrate on scoring goals – so again, coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks kind of like a genius. Group play in this continental championship continues against Haiti, this Friday, July 10, 7:30pm, in Boston, and Panama, Monday, July 13, 8:30pm, in Kansas City; both games will be shown live on FS1, which is just loving this crazy two-month soccer spree. The knockout round starts Saturday, July 18, heading up to the July 26 final in Philadelphia, with every match live on Fox networks.
The Austin Aztex suffered a 2-0 loss at Colorado Springs last Friday, and they're back on the road this Saturday in Salt Lake City, desperately needing a win to stay in the playoff chase. The next home game is Friday, July 17, 7:30pm, against Arizona. See www.austinaztex.com for info on ticket packages, including a family four-pack that includes food and drink vouchers.
Pachuca and Chivas of Guadalajara will play in a "Clash of Champions" at 7:30pm Tues-day, July 14, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. Tickets ($33-55) at www.roundrockexpress.com... Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo joined New York City FC this week.
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