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USMNT expecting home-field advantage at Red Bull Arena

Photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

The U.S. Men’s National Team has come to the New York metropolitan area for their next match, marking the first time a World Cup qualifier has come to the area.

Friday’s matchup against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena marks a departure from the team’s usual venue for home World Cup qualifiers, held in smaller markets. The selection of Red Bull Arena for such a crucial match had many wondering about the crowd makeup, particularly considering that New York’s considerate immigrant population could easily make the crowd favor the visiting Costa Ricans.

Costa Rica proved that they could do just that in July when their opening match of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, against Honduras, was at Red Bull Arena. The game, along with the matchup between Canada and French Guiana beforehand, was announced as a sell out the morning of the doubleheader. A majority of the crowd trickled in during the Canada-French Guiana opener, donning mostly Costa Rica red.

None of that, though, bothers Bruce Arena.

“We’re playing at home and I don’t care what anyone says, we have a home field advantage,” the U.S. head coach said at a press conference in Manhattan on Tuesday.

“In the short time I’ve been here, the fact is that the U.S. team, we have great support,” he added, “and I really believe that we’ll have great support on Friday.”

U.S. Soccer, in order to limit the amount of away fans, had six presales for groups that would most likely support the USMNT. The presales catered to the likes of those who were part of the U.S. Soccer Supporters Club, season ticket holders of the New York Red Bulls, who play at Red Bull Arena, and those who follow U.S. Soccer on their social platforms.

As for any advantage Costa Rica might hold not just with the crowd, but with the experience of playing at Red Bull Arena so soon before the qualifier, Arena hopes it “is not going to be a factor.”

Doubts about Red Bull Arena as a host for the USMNT did not seem to be on Tim Howard’s radar. The goalkeeper established that a priority for the two World Cup qualifiers in the next week, including an away match in Honduras on September 5, is to win at home.

“I think that’s a no-brainer,” he said. ” (World Cup qualifying) is about winning your home games and at least getting a point on the road.”

For Howard in particular, though, a match in the New York metropolitan area marks something else. As a native of New Jersey, the qualifier is a chance to play in front of his own personal “home crowd.”

“I played for the MetroStars,” he said. “Some people probably didn’t even know that, but this was a pipe dream,this stadium in Harrison. For it to be there and actually be playing games, there’s no crowd like playing in front of your home crowd for me.”

As for the people that fill the stands come Friday, Howard is not troubled about the eventual makeup.

“I think the fans are probably more hyped up and excited than we are right now,” he said. “I think they’ll be ready.”


  1. Let’s wait and see what the crowd actually is before making any pronouncements. This isn’t just any match at RBA for the US nor Costa Rica – Gold Cup, friendly, otherwise. This is a home US WCQ that US Soccer strategically planned. As the article states, US Soccer went to great lengths to insure a good deal of the tickets were originally purchased by US supporters. How many of them have re-sold their tickets we’ll see.

    There’s estimated to be around 4,000 American Outlaws attending and that contingent alone will provide raucous support inside RBA (those who’ve been there know the semi enclosed roof and small size means noise ricochets and echoes). If even just 50% of the remaining fans are US supporters – that means a sum majority of US supporters.

    The American soccer fan base has grown exponentially in past years. I’m cautiously optimistic the crowd will be pro American by a clear margin. And I for one am totally geeked up to contribute to a crazy loud American crowd.

  2. “The game, along with the matchup between Canada and French Guiana beforehand, was announced as a sell out the morning of the doubleheader.”

    I’m sorry, but those were not sold out. I caught each of the CR games, and those were nowhere near full. In fact, I was stunned each game how poorly attended the CR games were. So unless the cameras did a poor job of capturing the crowd, This is just Concacaf trying to make itself sound better/more successful than it really is.

    • you know what, I stand corrected. I watched the highlights of the CR-Honduras game and the arena was pretty full. I was thinking of the CR game against Canada in Houston. I’ve seen U-17 games that are better attended than that one.

    • announced attendance 25,817 for the Gold Cup opener.

      even if it is not a 100% pro-US crowd, even if it is 51%, this game is going to be big time and there is no bigger SSS stage in the nation than RBA.

  3. US Soccer isn’t having it in Torrance, CA like they did in ’85, but is RBA really going to give the US its very best chance to win over anywhere else in the entire country with a FIFA-compliant pitch … and isn’t that the primary goal? 6 of the 8 cities with the most Costa Rican-Americans are within a very easy drive of RBA). Also, with the US playing in Honduras just 4 days afterwards, would a location for this match a bit closer to Honduras not help the team for their game vs. Honduras (Nashville, Tampa, St. Louis, Charlotte, Atlanta, etc.)?

    • Why do you think those non MLS cities(with the exception of Atlanta) would draw when they have not in the past. Throw Jacksonville in there as a dud for the US in he seats.

  4. As someone who went to USA-Ecuador a few years ago at Red Bull Arena…wishful thinking for a homefield advantage! I’ll actually be surprised if its a majority US crowd. (would be supporting my boys in red-white-and-blue but leaving out of town tomorrow morning. Let’s support, Red Bulls / South Ward fam!!)


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