In the United States of America, American football, basketball and baseball undoubtedly reign supreme amongst sports fans - but it's impossible to miss the enthusiasm for and growth of soccer in the country.
Purists the world over of course call the beautiful game ‘football', but with American football so entrenched, in the United States it's ‘soccer' that's making waves in this sports-mad country.
A startling sign of the popularity of the game and the country's appetite for a sport which has by far the biggest global appeal, is the fact that United States soccer fans have already purchased over 93 300 tickets for matches at next June's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
This is - outside of fans in the host country - by far the highest number of tickets purchased by any country's residents for individual match tickets, considerably more than fans from the likes of football powerhouses Germany, Spain, Brazil and Holland for instance.
To acknowledge the tremendous interest from United States fans and to foster even stronger relations with the key soccer role-players in the country, the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, Dr Danny Jordaan, was in New York this week for visits to the offices of the famous New York Times and US network ESPN, as well as engagements with a number of key US media and soccer and business stakeholders.
"The interest from United States soccer fans in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is simply phenomenal. It's really heartwarming to see the support here for South Africa and the positive outlook and excitement people have for the first FIFA World Cup in Africa. There's clearly a great deal of goodwill and we will continue to strengthen and build on our good relationships with the United States," said Dr Jordaan.
With the United States soccer team arriving in South Africa in just over a week's time to compete against the likes of Brazil, Italy and Egypt in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and looking good to qualify for their sixth straight FIFA World Cup in 2010, the excitement among United States football fans is certainly palpable.
"To see the progress that has been made in South Africa to prepare for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is pretty extraordinary," said the President of the United States Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, at a media briefing he attended with Jordaan at the South African Consulate General's offices in New York on Friday, also attended by SA's ambassador to the United Nations Mr Baso Sangqu.
"And it's great to see that United States soccer fans are number one in ticket sales anywhere in the world outside of South Africa. There have been more United States media applying to cover the 2010 FIFA World Cup than before and more spectators than ever before will be going to the World Cup. It's great to see the phenomenal interest for what's sure to be a great tournament ," Gulati added.
To capitalise on the heightened interest among United States soccer fans, the South African Consulate in New York has linked up with a number of soccer-themed pubs in the Big Apple and its surrounds to stage events coinciding with matches during the FIFA Confederations Cup, complete with imported African drummers and dancers and South African food and wine.
Over 287 000 Americans visited South Africa as tourists last year, with US businesses doing $16-billion worth of trade in South Africa in 2008. And with the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a catalyst, those strong ties are continuing to flourish.
So, while the action over the next few weeks takes place on the playing fields of Johannesburg, Tshwane/Pretoria, Rustenburg and Mangaung/Bloemfontein, the excitement will also be felt the world over - no more so than in the United States of America.