United States vs. Portugal draws record World Cup ratings for ESPN

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Soccer is growing in the United States, and the ratings are proving it.

On Sunday afternoon the United States and Portugal played a thrilling World Cup match ending in a 2-2 draw. The contest was seen by the largest American audience for a soccer match on ESPN, pulling in a 9.1 rating, according to Awful Announcing.

The 9.1 number is large for any sport not known as the NFL, as it bests four of the six World Series games from last year between two large cities, Boston and St. Louis, per Matt Smith. The highest number for a U.S. city came from Washington, D.C., where the rating was a 13.3, followed by New York at 12.5, according to Steve Lepore.

Before Sunday's epic, the highest-rated soccer match in ESPN history was the United States and Ghana, which drew a 6.3. Even when including all three Disney networks (ABC, ESPN and ESPN2), the 9.1 rating is tied for the third-highest number in World Cup history.

There were an additional 6.5 million people reportedly watching the U.S.-Portugal game in Spanish on Univision, which made it the largest audience the network had ever drawn for a U.S. match.

The United States plays its final World Cup group stage match on Thursday afternoon against Germany. A win or draw will advance the Americans to the round of 16. With a loss, the United States will need either a tie in the Portugal/Ghana match or win a tiebreaker against the winner.

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