Soccer has a long way to go before it's as popular among Americans as baseball or football, but it's already gone a long way just in the past 12 days, judging by everything from TV ratings to the infuriating number of Twitter outages that it's been causing. And with every step Team USA takes toward the title, it also gets closer to launching one of its stars into the stratosphere of endorsement deals and appearance fees that is sports super-stardom.
At present, the U.S. only has two such blessed booters: Mia Hamm, who zoomed to fame after leading her team to the 1999 Women's World Cup championship, and David Beckham of the L.A. Galaxy, a/k/a Mr. Posh Spice. But Hamm's now retired, and Beckham's on the English squad (although this year he's out with an injury). The good news is that this year's team offers a number of candidates for next-level fame, from goalie Tim Howard, whose world-class skills and Tourette's syndrome made him the focus of much pre-tournament press, to fleet-footed striker Jozy Altidore, who's just 20 years old. Perhaps the most obvious is the team's leading scorer, midfielder Landon Donovan, whose last-minute goal saved Team USA from an early exit and pushed his name into the top 10 search terms on Google Hot Trends.
Or maybe it'll be someone else (let us know who your choice is in the comments section). What do you think?
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