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U.S. v Ghana tie most-watched soccer game in U.S. history

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 19 million people watched the United States v Ghana World Cup soccer match on television, making Saturday's tie the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history, according to figures released on Monday.

The Nielsen Company said a record 19.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the match live on two networks, underlining the rising popularity of soccer in the United States.

Ghana beat the U.S. team 2-1 after extra time to advance to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Africa, eliminating the U.S. in the second round of the tournament.

"This record viewership proves that soccer is as popular as it's ever been in the United States," said Stephen Master, vice president of sports at The Nielsen Company.

"Between the rise of social networking and virtually unlimited access to the sport no matter where it's played in the world, this is the perfect environment for the game of soccer to thrive in the U.S.", he said.

The TV audience for the United States-Ghana match surpassed the 18.1 million record set by the Italy-Brazil World Cup final in 1994.

Soccer is dwarfed as a spectator sport in the United States by football, baseball and basketball. Some 106.5 million American TV viewers watched the National Football League's Super Bowl championship in February, making it the most-watched U.S. telecast ever in any genre.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)