Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was asked today what the USA's performance in this World Cup means to the nation's place in the world's most popular sport.
"I think you can analyze and analyze and analyze: Has the U.S. improved, have they not improved? OK, they got to the round of 16 last time around and 16 this time," he said. "The main thing for me is just that more people tuned in to watch than ever before, and I thought that was a big thing. The second thing is that when people saw our team play, they saw with what kind of dedication and determination and heart our team played with, and I think that’s a real positive. I think it also showed that every time we were down in a game we almost drew some confidence and said, ‘OK, we can go forward a little bit more now,’ and we played a little bit better at times. Now it’s up to the staff to determine why did that not happen sooner, how do we implement that, and how do we continue to gain confidence. But I think it’s a huge plus for American soccer what the U.S. team did this time by getting into the round of 16, coming out of the Group of Death, but mainly by the amount of people that watched it and could see the character and the determination and the grit of our players."
He also was asked if MLS can capitalize on all that soccer buzz (Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer also speaks on that topic in the post below):
"We’d like to," he said. :Obviously the best thing that U.S. soccer fans can do – or people who have grown an interest in this sport – is support your MLS teams and to watch it. The games are good, the games are exciting. You come to our game against Portland, let’s pack that stadium: We’re getting close, but we need to pack it. It’s an atmosphere that’s unique and special and entertaining as well, and they can see these guys up close and personal on a day-to-day basis. Like I said before, if we can get 10 or 15 percent of those people who tuned in for the first time to stay with us -- or that have tuned in before but weren’t regular viewers, to become regular viewers – that’s a huge plus for our sport."