Soccer is Alive and Kicking

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U.S. World Cup soccer squad member Landon Donovan.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
By YAN WANG

NEW YORK (CBS) Whether you know it as futbol, football, fussball, or soccer, you've seen the sport on TV unless you've been living under a rock for the last month.

With an estimated 700 million viewers tuning into the FIFA World Cup Finals earlier this month, the revitalization of the game was palpable. Though soccer has been around for centuries, it has evolved as the times changed to remain one of the most mainstream professional sports in the world.

Photos: Summer Soccer Fun

According to the U.S. Embassy, more than 18 million Americans play soccer, and more than 78 percent of them are under the age of 18.

The popularity of youth soccer started when the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup, which also led to the growing interest in professional soccer. 

Robert "Rip" Fisher, president of the Westchester Youth Soccer League, had an especially exciting experience at the2010 World Cup because two of the players on the U.S. team were former WYSL players.

Edson Buddle and Benny Feilhaber are seen on the home page of the WYSL site after shooting the winning goal in the game against Algeria. Because of the success of U.S. men's team, kids are more inspired than ever to play.

Fisher noted that fall registration numbers are already at a record high, with 18,000 kids already registered in WYSL.

"Soccer is the second most popular, if not most popular, game in America participation wise," said Fisher "Eighteen million kids play the sport."

But the World Cup is not the only thing spurring kids to lace up those cleats.

The sport itself has a lot to offer to different audiences. It has taken the world by storm because it does not discriminate.

"It's a game where everyone can start at the age of 5," explained Fisher. "Every kid can play, no matter what level. We have extremely talented athletes, kids that enjoy the sport; there is also soccer for the disabled. Boys can play, girls can play - everyone can play."

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