The WC brought the game home, showed Americans top flight play on color tv, live, at a reasonable hour, on free OTA tv. It was an event, and kids my age (teens) had already gotten the taste as younger kids.
This enabled the MLS to launch in out of the ashes of the NASL. Now, a dad can take his son's or daughters to see a game, in what I will admit is an environment crafted for safe viewing, and not, say, Millwall (first game I attended over there).
Next up, the Spice Girls and David Beckham. Teenage girls knowing who "Becks" plays for in the late 90's was wild. Maybe it was different in CT, cause we had a bit more worldwide exposure to stuff, but it was also on MTV.
I personally started following closely when I was bartending in Sydney. I worked a 10p-6a shift, and we had Foxtel, which showed 4 games every Sunday, live. We had big projector TVs and a crowd of rowdy English ex-pats rolling in at 1am to watch live, in their business suits (actual suits).
My best friend there was an avid Gooner, so I watched "the red team" keenly. They seemed to be having fun. They also never lost (03-04).
Finding games back home was tough, but happening upon them was always a treat.
It's reached a point where, in the sports dead season (late NGL/NBA, early baseball), the UCLA knockouts are by far the best weekend sports products available. Ronaldo and Bale doing work for Real, that had bars rocking in NYC.
Once soccer found the money (educated Americans), they are not looking back.