World Cup Soccer Fever has spiked TV ratings in a phenomenon similar to the Olympics, and will be on full display when The US takes on Germany Thursday. But is it -- and could it ever be-- as hot in the US as Football, Hockey, Baseball and Basketball ?
|Western New Yorkers have two big locations to watch World Cup Soccer Thursday as the United States takes on Germany in game that decides who qualifies for for the next round in Brazil.
Mes Que, a soccer themed bar on Hertel Avenue will host a soccer party inside his bar on Hertel Ave, and if US advances, they will once again put out big screens on North Park Ave this weekend and host a street party similar to Sunday's event that drew approx. 1,500 soccer fans.
And in downtown Buffalo, they will have large screens set up at Canalside, too.
ON THE WBEN LIVELINE:
Robert Gioia and Greg Nicotera each host USA-Germany soccer parties today.
Click HERE to hear them both with WBEN's John Zach & Susan Rose
Soccer fans getting ready for the second half of the US vs. Portugal Match in the World Cup Sunday, gathering outside Mes Que on Hertel Avenue. The number of fans at a place that calls itself "Buffalo's Soccer Bar" during Sunday's game spilled onto the streets and even resulted in the shutdown of North Park Ave to accommodate the throng. (WBEN Photos/Brian Mazurowski)
Approximately 5,000 packed Canalside to watch Sunday's draw with Portugal, but Robert Gioia of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation says it's unclear just how many will be there today.
"There is an increased enthusiasm about being at Canalside, but it is a work day," explains Gioia. "There will be two 9 foot by 12 foot screens they'll be able to enjoy the game, similarly to what they did on Sunday afternoon."
Gioia never thought 5,000 people would pack Canalside for a USA soccer game. "I think it's similar to hockey time at the Olympics," observes Gioia. "We want to create a venue where people want to come out and enjoy the outdoors."
No Lunch? No problem: Choices will range from Just Pizza to Clinton's Dish and food trucks.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: US Win Loss Scenarios | Where To Watch/Listen If You Don't Have Cable | Soccer's Popularity
The United States' 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal is almost certainly the most-watched soccer game ever in the U.S., an emphatic confirmation of the sport's rising popularity in a country slower to embrace it than the rest of the world.
The Nielsen company said that Sunday's gripping game was seen by an average of 24.7 million viewers on ESPN and Univision. That matches it with the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.
Many factors made it so popular: It was an exciting game, interest in the U.S. team was high because of the first-game victory against Ghana and World Cup viewing in general has been high. The Sunday evening time slot also meant many Americans were available to watch.
But still on average, there are Buffalo Bills games that draw a far larger share of the local TV audience, than World Cup games have nationally.
As Popular as Football, Hockey, Basketball or Soccer?
"I've been in the states now for ten years, and this World Cup, with the atmosphere, and the talk of it and obviously every game on TV has been an unbelievable experience here... .. I still think it's going to take a couple of more World Cups, and a couple more of a huge amount of youth players playing the sport to get older and start watching with thier kids. I still think it's a little ways aways now"
-Mark Howlett, SUNY Buffalo State Soccer Coach
WEB EXTRA: Hear more with Howlett and WBEN's Brian Mazurowski
"It's said that every four years, it's very much like Olympic fever. People don't watch for example figure skating with quite the same fervor every year as much as they do every four years. Not that it isn't popular. Figure skating is popular. Soccer is popular. A lot of people participate in it, and people do watch it. but then every four years the Olympics come around, or in this case the World Cup comes around and you see this intense craziness."
- WBEN Pop Culture Analyst Tim O'Shei, founder, LiveStarringYou.com MORE WITH O'SHEI On The WBEN Liveline
-If the U.S. wins: The Americans are through to the next round as the winners of Group G and will play the second place team from Group H. (Belgium currently leads Group H, followed by Algeria, Russia and South Korea)
Germany would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed Germany on goal differential. Germany currently is plus 4, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. The second place finisher plays the winner of Group H.
-If Germany wins: Germany wins the group.
The U.S. would finish second unless Ghana or Portugal won and passed the U.S. on goal differential. The U.S. is plus 1, Ghana is minus 1 and Portugal is minus 4. So, if the U.S. loses to Germany, it will be rooting for Portugal, because it's less likely that Portugal could pass the U.S. on goal differential.
-If Germany and the U.S. draw: Germany wins the group and the U.S. finishes second. The result of the other game is meaningless.
-If Ghana and Portugal draw: The U.S. and Germany advance. Germany wins the group unless the U.S. defeats them.
-Other tiebreakers: In any of these scenarios involving goal differential, if two teams are tied on points and goal differential, the next tiebreaker is total goals scored. Germany has six goals, the U.S. has four, Ghana has there and Portugal has two.
(AP) There's eager anticipation - along with some divided loyalties - for German-American fans who had been rooting for both teams until their pivotal World Cup clash.
Organizers expect thousands to show up Thursday at Cincinnati's Fountain Square for a watch party when the U.S. soccer team plays Germany. The downtown square also is home of the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, which drew 600,000 last year for the annual celebration of the city's vaunted German heritage, often with beer and bratwurst.
Grant Park in Chicago has been drawing huge crowds, an estimated 20,000 on Sunday, for outdoor watch parties, while sports bars and ethnic pubs there and in other U.S. cities with large German-American populations such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul have been packed for World Cup games and are ready for a big Thursday.
The German-themed Glockenspiel restaurant in St. Paul, planned to open early to get fans seated before the game, and in the Cleveland area, the Donauschwaben German-American Cultural Center in Olmstead Falls expects its restaurant to be busy.
In Cincinnati, "German-Americans here are really excited about both teams," said Don Heinrich Tolzmann, president of the German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati. Some are reflecting their divided loyalties by wearing German jerseys with U.S. hats, he added.
"It has a double-barreled type of excitement for everybody," he said, noting that the U.S. team not only has a German coach but five German-American players.
United States' Jermaine Jones celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the United States and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Good news: In 2014, there are more apps and other options than ever before. As the World Cup transitions into the knockout stages, here's a look at how to keep up on everything to do with the tournament in Brazil, including the U.S.-Germany match on Thursday.
|RADIO: ESPN Radio and Sirius XM are broadcasting all games over the radio. In Buffalo, that means ESPN 1520 AM WWKB.
Coverage begins at 11:30 am. Simply tune in at game time and let the drama unfold. Sirius requires a satellite radio subscription.
This is handy if you are watching the game on Univision but want to hear English-language commentary, though Internet streams can run a minute or so behind the broadcast.
|UNIVISION: To stream games online using ESPN's website or app, viewers need a cable or satellite TV subscription. It's not enough to have Internet service through the cable provider.
But there is another way to watch for free - legally. Spanish-language channel Univision is streaming the first 56 World Cup games for free on its website and Deporte app. The only drawback (for some) is that the commentary is in Spanish.
Unfortunately, even the games on Univision will require a cable or satellite subscription once the quarterfinals begin on July 4.
|MEDIA SITES: ESPN's website is chock full of stats and video highlights that you can access even if you don't have cable. Many news sites, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, offer live blogs of all of the games, offering insights and commentary. This can be a useful way to keep up, especially now that two games are going on at the same time.
AP Socccer writer Mae Anderson's favorite live blog is from The Guardian. It provides an insightful running commentary, along with a heavy dose of snarkiness and an ongoing debate about which country's national anthem is the best.
Guardian World Cup page: http://www.theguardian.com/football/world-cup-2014
|APPS: There is a wide array of smartphone apps to help World Cup fans.
The official FIFA app for Apple and Android phones gives you real-time updates of all games, updated rankings, photos and video highlights and selected tweets from FIFA and others.
If you're looking for a source outside the sport's governing body, check out Forza Football, Vubooo's World Cup 2014 and World Soccer Finals for Apple and Android devices, and in some cases Windows phones as well. You don't get live video, but the apps offer lineups, game statistics, live updates, rankings and video highlights.
These apps offer similar information, but they are all free so you can try them all and see which you like best. FIFA app: http://www.fifa.com/mobile
|HIT THE BAR: Even if you have a TV, the best way to watch the World Cup is with other fans.
In Buffalo, there will be large screens set up this weekend at Mes Que if the US advances. And today at Canalside near The First Nigara Center and The Buffalo Naval & Serviceman's Park there will be a chance to gather and watch the games.
Across the country, community centers, parks and other non-traditional places are showing the games.
In Minneapolis, for example, the Riverview Theater showed the June 16 U.S.-Ghana game for free. In New York, games are being shown outdoors at The Archway under the Manhattan Bridge.
If you don't have a cable or satellite TV subscription, this is about the only way you can watch live video with English commentary in the U.S. ABC television stations are showing 10 of the 64 games, including the final, over the air for free. But streaming is through ESPN, so you still need the subscription.
So do your research, and you might find some unexpected places nearby showing the games - and find out which neighbors are fellow fans.
TWITTER's World Cup page
Twitter is displaying World Cup scores on its home page. All but two teams have official accounts, and 300 players are on Twitter.
FIFA's Twitter accounts are FifaWorldCup and Fifacom. Clicking on the official Twitter hashtags, WorldCup and WorldCup2014, will take you to Twitter's hubs for the event.
FACEBOOK.com World Cup
Google also has special Street View pages that highlight the painted streets of Brazil and the inside of all World Cup stadiums. The figure that guides users through Street View now has a white T-shirt and a soccer ball.
A dedicated Google Trends page showcases all trending topics related to the World Cup.