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The love of soccer is growing in East Tennessee as the World Cup gets underway in Brazil

(WBIR-Knoxville) Even though thousands of miles separate East Tennessee from Brazil, World Cup fever is here.

In the opening match, Brazil beat Croatia, 3-1.

Soccer Taco on Market Square saw big business during the broadcast.

"This is really big for us because it's every four years," said Jaime Guzman, Soccer Taco manager.

That excitement is translating from the screen to the soccer field. Knox Crush Academy Director Chris Carroll says it is a growing sport in Knoxville.

"I've seen soccer growing really in just the last year. We've grown here from 30 children to about 150 registered now. So it's really exploding. And with the World Cup this week, it doesn't get any better than that really," Carroll said.

On Thursday, during the opening match, Carroll was teaching 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds the basics of soccer. Originally from England, Carroll grew up playing the game.

Get the World Cup schedule

"I spent my life watching World Cups and playing myself... As soon as anyone can walk, they're kicking a ball. But it's getting like that now here, which is really nice," he said.

Coach Don Spain with the Southside Soccer Club also held practice on Thursday night.

"I've seen soccer really take off and then, like anything else, there's been a little downturn, especially in rec soccer and the local American Youth Soccer Organization (AYS0)," Spain said.

His grandson, Hayden Spain, plays for the Southside Attack, a satellite team of FC Alliance.

"It's just one of those things that you get into and then you love it. I started when I was 4. Love it," he said.

Spain is rooting for the country he shares a last name with, as well as Brazil.

Team USA will play its first match against Ghana on Monday at 6 p.m. It will air on ESPN.

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