While columnists and pundits argue and debate whether soccer is actually growing in America, Dax McCarty doesn’t have to argue or debate. He knows that it is – and he has the numbers to prove it.
“I certainly felt a bump in social media,” the New York Red Bulls midfielder said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “I was added to a World Cup auto follow list with guys that kind of talk about soccer and all that good stuff, and I saw some serious growth in my Twitter followers.”
McCarty didn’t mention how many Twitter followers he had at the start of the World Cup, but he now has more than 146,000.
“Some secret admirer was like buying me followers and I had no idea what was happening,” he said. “Well, that’s why I have so many now. So yeah, I certainly saw some growth there, which is obviously always nice to see.”
But McCarty didn’t just notice a difference on his Twitter account. He noticed a difference when he was out and about in the real world.
“You walk around the streets of New York City and you see jerseys everywhere,” he said. “The buzz around New York – especially a city like New York – it’s just such an unbelievable city to be in. The buzz was just like I had never seen it before. Four years ago, I was watching the World Cup in Dallas and to be able to say now that I got to experience watching a World Cup in the greatest city in the world, it’s certainly something that I’ll always remember, especially how it captivated the city for this whole month.”
McCarty, 27, is from Winter Park, Fla., and played college soccer at the University of North Carolina. He has played in MLS since 2006 – first for FC Dallas (2006-10), then for D.C. United (2011) and now for the Red Bulls (2011-present) – and has been a member of the U.S. men’s national team since 2007.
In the last eight years, he has seen a major difference in MLS.
“The biggest shock to me would be that almost every single team has their own stadium,” McCarty said. “I never thought I would see the day where you have teams like the Houston Dynamo (with their own stadium). They have an unbelievable stadium now.”
The San Jose Earthquakes are in the process of building their stadium. To be able to start in 2006 and not even half the teams had their own stadiums, and now you fast forward and almost all of them do – and they’re all very, very nice, modern stadiums that are built specifically for our great sport – I wouldn’t have believed you.
“I think it shows how much the sport is growing, how much people are really taking to it and how much MLS has improved. The level of competition continues to get better every year, and that’s why it’s fantastic to have our own stadium to be able to call home for our great home fans.”