Helped by big crowds for games against Mexico on US soil, the average attendance for the United States men’s national team (USMNT) home matches in 2023 was the best since 2017. USMNT average attendance climbed from 29,400 in 2017 to 29,578 in 2023.
Still, attendances for US Soccer men’s games still have a long way to go.
For the eighth consecutive year, USMNT attendance averaged below 30,000 fans per game. Before that, from 2007 to 2015, the senior men’s team averaged above 30,000. Moreover, the average attendance surpassed 40,000 in 2011.
The disappointing crowds in the last eight years have come from a mixture of US Soccer increasing ticket prices, playing in smaller MLS stadiums, and a drop in interest in the national team after the men failed to qualify for World Cup 2018.
USMNT attendance in 2023
In 2023, the USMNT played a whopping 16 games on home soil. It was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that the United States played that many home games in one year. It is just the second time it has done that since 1994. In that World Cup year, the United States played a staggering 21 games domestically.
The total attendance for the 16 games in 2023 was 473,241. Therefore, the average attendance was 29,578. That represents a 38% increase over last year’s average of 21,383. That was the USMNT’s worst since 2006.
Here is the full list of home games this year and how the crowds looked.
|January 25||Friendly||Serbia||BMO Stadium||11,475|
|January 28||Friendly||Colombia||Dignity Health Sports Park||27,000|
|March 27||Nations League||El Salvador||Exploria Stadium||18,947|
|April 19||Friendly||Mexico||State Farm Stadium||55,730|
|June 15||Nations League||Mexico||Allegiant Stadium||65,000|
|June 18||Nations League||Canada||Allegiant Stadium||35,000|
|June 24||Gold Cup||Jamaica||Soldier Field||36,666|
|June 28||Gold Cup||St. Kitts & Nevis||CityPark||21,216|
|July 2||Gold Cup||Trinidad & Tobago||Bank of America Stadium||40,243|
|July 9||Gold Cup||Canada||TQL Stadium||24,979|
|July 12||Gold Cup||Panama||Snapdragon Stadium||31,690|
|September 12||Friendly||Oman||Allianz Field||13,665|
|October 14||Friendly||Germany||Pratt & Whitney Stadium||37,743|
|October 17||Friendly||Ghana||Geodis Park||18,468|
|November 16||Nations League||Trinidad & Tobago||Q2 Stadium||19,850|
Biggest crowds raise USMNT average in 2023
It comes as no surprise that the two largest crowds of the year for the US were the two games they played against Mexico in NFL stadiums. But the crowd of over 40,000 for the Gold Cup game against Trinidad & Tobago in Charlotte was a wonderful sight to see. The US had never played a game in the Queen City.
Also encouraging was the crowd of over 37,000 to see the US take on Germany in East Hartford, Connecticut, and over 36,000 for the Gold Cup opener against Jamaica in Chicago.
Overall, the US drew seven different crowds of over 30,000 people this year. That’s the first time the US has drawn that many crowds of that size since 2015 when they also drew seven crowds of over 30,000 people. US Soccer also did a good job of varying the venue selection as they played the 16 games in 14 different stadiums across 12 different states. That is a trend that US fans hope will continue moving forward.
The flip side to all the positive news is, of course, some distressingly small crowds. Most concerning is that a number of these small crowds were played in cities with well-supported MLS teams. For example, the USMNT played a friendly at CityPark in St. Louis and drew just over 15,000 people. But throughout their debut season in MLS, St. Louis City averaged over 22,000 people per game.
The simplest explanation is that most of these friendly games came against lackluster opposition. The two games in September were against teams in Uzbekistan and Oman that have never been to a World Cup. One of the October friendlies may have been against Ghana, but after having played the Black Stars at three different World Cups, a friendly between the two teams just does not carry the same weight.
It is also worth noting that the final home game of the year against Trinidad & Tobago was the fourth USMNT game at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, and while the first three games were all sellouts of 20,500, this was the first one that did not sell out.
The next several years represent a huge opportunity for the growth of soccer in the US. This is particularly true for the USMNT. Starting in the summer of 2024, the United States is hosting Copa America. After getting past Trinidad and Tobago, the United States will be playing in that competition for the first time since 2016. That edition was also in the United States. In 2026, the United States will host the World Cup, which it has already qualified for. Then, in 2028, the United States will have a chance to play in the Olympics in 2028, which is in Los Angeles. For US Soccer as a whole, the Women’s World Cup may return in 2027, too.
If one of the things that hurt USMNT attendance this year was lackluster opponents, that should not be a problem next year. And should they do well in the Copa America, there’s no telling just how high the USMNT attendance could be heading into a home World Cup just two years later.
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