Report: Stadium Could Be Less Than 10 Percent Full For USMNT-Panama Friendly

A reported 6,000 tickets have been sold for the USMNT’s first match of 2019 in a 63,000-seat stadium.

The U.S. men’s national team plays the first match of the Gregg Berhalter era on Sunday just outside of Phoenix. The friendly against Panama is the first chance to see the USMNT play under a non-interim coach since October of 2017. Apparently no one cares.

The USA-Panama match will be played at State Farm Stadium (formerly University of Phoenix Stadium) in Glendale, Arizona. It’s a 63,400-seat stadium and one that has been filled for previous USMNT matches. 

That won’t be the case Sunday.

According to LA Times sportswriter Kevin Baxter, around 6,000 tickets have been sold, meaning the stadium could be at less than 10 percent of capacity.

While the spokesman did say “more than 6,000,” there’s no reason it would be much more than that, otherwise the spokesman would have said more than X,000. Perhaps the spokesman misspoke and meant to say 60,000, but that seems like far too large of a crowd for this match.

While Panama was a World Cup team (beating out the U.S. to reach Russia), it’s one of the least interesting foes for U.S. fans. They aren’t good enough to really provide much excitement like a Mexico or Costa Rica, but not bad enough to provide a chance to see loads of goals (Panama’s usually pretty stingy defensively). U.S. Soccer was never going to get a huge crowd for this match, but you’d think it could draw more than 6,000.

The USMNT is concluding its first January camp under Berhalter. As this isn’t a FIFA international date, only domestic-based players have been included in the January camp, including Michael Bradley. Aside from Bradley, who many USMNT fans hate, there aren’t many big names on the roster for Sunday’s match, so it wouldn’t be surprising if most of the “more than 6,000” tickets have been sold to Panamanian fans.

The U.S. hasn’t played a match under a full-time coach since losing 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago in 2018 World Cup qualifying. You’d think fans would be interested to see what Berhalter brings to the table, but apparently that would be a wrong assumption. 

Of course, much of this is due to ticket prices. The cheapest tickets available are $32 on Ticketmaster, far too high for a match of this magnitude before you even add in processing fees, and we all fucking hate processing fees. Tickets near midfield are at least $75 and even go up to $300.

Even if a decent amount of tickets are sold on the day of the match, it’s likely State Farm Stadium will be barren for Berhalter’s first match as USMNT coach. It’s not a good look for anyone, from U.S. Soccer to U.S. soccer fans. 

Personally, I think it’s hard to get behind a team that does the USA Today crossword when the New York Times crossword is far superior.

No wonder the U.S. missed the World Cup.

How To Watch USMNT vs Panama

  • Date: Jan. 27
  • Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
  • TV: ESPN2, Unimás, UDN

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