MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (KGO) --If this year's World Cup seems more exciting than in years past, you're right. During the first 20 games, teams scored 60 goals. At this point during the last World Cup, they'd only made 46. For the first time since 1958, World Cup matches are averaging three goals a game which leads to the question -- Is the new "Brazuca" ball a factor?
If you want to measure the ball's popularity, just turn to Twitter where @brazuca has nearly 2 million followers. But if you want to learn about the ball's flight patterns, you have to go to Moffett Field and talk to the scientists at NASA's wind tunnels.
Dr. Rabi Mehta, chief of NASA's experimental aero physics lab, tested the new World Cup ball. "The first thing we noticed was this is a lot more stable ball that flies better," he said. In the wind tunnel, he observed smoke streaming around the Brazuca. Its deep seams create a different type of turbulence than the Jabulani from South Africa's World Cup.
Many players disliked the Jabulani because it knuckle, or moved, when they kicked it. "Between about 30 and 50 miles an hour, this ball has less drag compared to the last World Cup," Mehta said.
Fans at the British pub "The Pig and Whistle" in San Francisco disagreed Thursday over the Brazuca.
"It does seem like it's leading to a lot more of the goals, which is pretty exciting," one man said.
"This ball, 'It swerves, it moves...' It's not true," said another.
Adidas released the Brazuca prior to the World Cup. "It has been used in other competitions as well," says Angus McNab, a sports statistician with OPTA. He says World Cup players weren't surprised by its feel. He's not convinced the Brazuca is behind the increased goal count. "I think in the early games, there's more of a chance for mismatches and as the competition progresses, we may get tighter matches," he said.
Ultimately, Mehta says if your team loses, "You can't blame the ball. Both sides are playing with the same ball. It's never the ball."
Brazucas retail for $160.