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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Everyone’s Ready for USA vs. England at the World Cup. That Shouldn’t Come As a Surprise.

  • England has never defeated the United States at the World Cup.
  • The match could put up record viewing numbers.
Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling standing in front of their nations' flags ahead of match-up between the United States and England in the World Cup
Photos:USA TODAY Sports/FA Design: Alex Brooks

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, officially separating the Thirteen American Colonies from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Since that moment, the United States and England have been inextricably linked by both a rivalry and friendship that has developed over centuries.

On Black Friday, another chapter in the storied relationship begins when the U.S. men’s national team takes on England for just the third time in World Cup history.

Given the USMNT’s gain in skill, the increasing popularity of American soccer, and the overall hype built up around the contest, the match is set to go down as a true cultural event on both sides of the pond.

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While England has technically dominated the matchup with an 8-1-2 record across all competitions, the United States has been more opportune with its results.

  • In their first-ever meeting, at the 1950 World Cup, the Stars and Stripes stunned the Three Lions with a 1-0 victory — widely regarded as one of the tournament’s greatest all-time upsets.
  • The U.S. won again at the 1993 U.S. Cup — a warm-up tournament for the 1994 World Cup held in the country.
  • At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the two sides drew 1-1 after goals from Steven Gerard and Clint Dempsey.
  • All eight of England’s wins have been in friendly matches.

Perhaps ironically, Americans’ increased interest in the sport has led to more consumption of the English domestic league.

The Premier League’s 2021-22 season across NBC’s channels was the second-most-watched ever with 507,000 average viewers per TV match window — trailing only the 2015-16 season, which saw Leicester City win an unprecedented EPL title.

Major League Soccer’s ascendancy has also added to the rise of soccer’s popularity in America.

Over 10 million fans attended MLS games this season — a new record — and the 2022 MLS Cup drew the second-largest viewing audience (2.16M) in league history.

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Still, the England and United States men’s teams face an uphill battle if they’re going to stage the most-watched U.S. soccer game in history. That honor belongs to the USWNT, whose win over Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final attracted 25.4 million viewers.

But Friday’s men’s match setting some type of record is possible considering few things quite get either side going like this national rivalry.

October’s friendly at Wembley Stadium between the U.S. and England’s women’s teams sold out general admission tickets in two days — the fastest-selling for any women’s match ever outside a major tournament.

In fact, the passion for this World Cup match is so intense and ubiquitous, that it will be simulcast on the largest TV in the world across an entire New York City block in Times Square.

But for as rabid as the American and English soccer audiences are, their meeting on the pitch may not stand a chance against the U.S.-U.K. crossover fervor inspired by the 2018 royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

That attracted a whopping 29.2 million viewers in the U.S. — even with the ceremony taking place right around (or even before) sunrise for most Americans.

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