Image Credit: AP
If you weren't sure: Yes, that is a crowd watching a soccer match and yes, that soccer match took place on Saturday in the United States.
During a friendly match between UEFA powerhouses Manchester United and Real Madrid, a staggering 109,318 fans packed into the University of Michigan's Big House and broke a 30-year-old U.S. soccer attendance record previously set at the Rose Bowl during the 1984 Olympics in another soccer match between France and Brazil.
Incredible pic of the Man Utd v Real Madrid crowd last night. Biggest ever in USA. 109 318 people. Michigan Stadium pic.twitter.com/GG0q4lmDRR— Jamie Frank (@jamiefrank87) August 3, 2014
Futbol in the Big House! S/O to Relevent Sports for the tickets pic.twitter.com/EaWaC302hh— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) August 2, 2014
Of course, there's a certain amount of over-excitement generated by the advent of such major UEFA teams and stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, but the fact remains that 109,318 people bought tickets to a soccer match in Michigan on Saturday. That's a staggering number and one that should indicate that the U.S. is ready for more soccer.
The numbers: To start, we've got our 109,318 number, which is just huge.
But let's also consider 17,872, which was the average attendance of a Major League Soccer match in 2013 and is 549 more fans than the NBA's 17,323 and 740 more than the NHL's 17,132.
And what about 3.2 million? That's the total amount of viewers that streamed the Germany-U.S. World Cup match on ESPN's live-streaming channel. But that was online only.
How about 25 million? That's how many Americans watched the U.S.-Portugal group game across two television networks, ESPN and Univision.
Numbers don't lie.
GOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLL: Across the U.S., soccer is becoming an increasingly popular, respected and viewed sport. Cities like Seattle have already proved that a thirst for professional soccer is ready to be quenched, and the fact that New York City just added a second MLS team proves that soccer in America is becoming a more than once-every-four-years phenomenon. Americans want soccer and soccer wants America. Let's make this happen team.