In a digital age where it’s easier than ever to watch the World Cup, it feels like hardly anybody I know is bothering to try.

The stories, accompanied by gripping images, are everywhere. Soccer fans congregate in town squares, in bars, in restaurants, and in homes to absorb the energy these World Cup-watching experiences radiate. But paint your face in national colors, don a scarf, throw on your Tab Ramos shirt — that awful, denim-inspired one from the 1994 tournament — and head out to your favorite central Maine watering hole for some noontime football…

… and you’re all too likely to be going it alone as you stare blankly at a screen over the bar showing talking heads screaming at one another about LeBron James or NFL mini-camps.

Soccer, it seems, still gets no love, even in the midst of far and away the world’s largest and most lucrative sporting tournament.

The lack of a United States side participating in this World Cup plays a role.

“America is kind of a bandwagon nation,” says Rob Kennedy, a teacher at Hall-Dale High School who lives in Monmouth. “I definitely think it matters if the U.S. is in it and if the U.S. mounts a challenge, people get into it.”

When the U.S. women, a true world soccer power, are deep in tournaments, people pay attention. Serious attention. The team’s 2015 women’s World Cup final against Japan garnered 25.4 million viewers, according to numbers Fox television released.

Twenty-five-point-four. Million.

There are 233 countries on this planet, and only 50 of those have total populations of more than 25 million people.

Without the U.S. in this summer’s men’s World Cup, though, Americans are tasked with either following traditional soccer powers, upstart tiny nations with the populations of Boston proper or a bunch of names that casual sports fans have never heard of.

Even as soccer is everywhere in the United States now, including right here in central Maine, with youth leagues, club teams and successful high school and college programs, it’s still an easy target. The game is still largely ignored beyond broadcast rights, and fans — 24 years removed from the Tony Meola and Alexi Lalas days — still hear the snickers.

Hanging up the phone following a 15-minute World Cup conversation the other night, a colleague of mine joked, “Just listening to all that soccer talk makes my head hurt.”

Hockey and, to a lesser extent, baseball are niche sports with large regional followings. Their fans are not subjected to the cliched ridicule fans of soccer, with its global appeal and worldwide following, are.

“I personally can’t stand golf, but it’s not like I make fun of people who watch the Masters,” Kennedy noted.

Maybe we soccer-heads are simply a nicer, kinder breed of sports fan.

Or maybe — upon realizing that nobody we know is getting together at our favorite restaurant bar to watch the World Cup with like-minded football fanatics — we simply embody the spirit of the cranky Brit who is happy to complain to himself about the way Argentina’s tactics are setting Messi up for failure or how Belgium simply doesn’t understand the concept of “defending.”

Darren Allen, a teacher and varsity soccer coach at Mt. Abram, has watched roughly 90 percent of the tournament. Even as the final days of the school calendar clicked off the with the World Cup underway, he was glued to YouTube TV for the matches.

“It happens every four years. It’s special,” Allen said. “How do we measure up against the rest of the world? Even though (the U.S. isn’t) in it, I still want to know — who is the best team on the planet?”

For those of us who do care about this World Cup, our stories are similar. We’re captivated by the players we watch all season long — in England, in Germany, in Spain, in France, and even here at home in Major League Soccer. We pull for the underdog stories and enjoy the countries that play with a tempo and style that’s fun — “on the front foot,” soccer types call it. We’re keeping tabs on the players who play for our favorite teams, the Liverpools, the Real Madrids, the Arsenals, the Bayern Munichs and the Evertons of world soccer.

We’re watching on television. We’re watching through apps streaming on our connected devices. We’re taking to social media to analyze, critique and converse with the other soccer-heads we know.

Apparently, we’re just not watching together.

Or, maybe we are, just in the way that the new digital age allows.

“The casual sports fan, I don’t think they’ll ever, ever, ever come over to us,” Allen said. “We’re out there. There’s a lot of us, but we’re not the silent minority. We’re the silent majority.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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