For three of the last four home games, the USMNT attendance has been suffering because of the weaker nature of its opponents.

The United States is gearing up to co-host the World Cup in under three years. Still, based on three of the last four home games, excitement and support for this team is lower than usual. Without any World Cup Qualifying games to give the home games extra juice, it may not be getting better.

Lower attendances

Attendance for the US was fabulous during their seven home games over the summer. There were sellouts in the soccer stadiums they played in, and then 40,000+ in the American football stadiums.

The US has played four games since the summer and three of those four were played in half-empty soccer stadiums. One has to figure that, had the opponents been of a higher caliber, the attendance at three of these games would have been greater.

OpponentStadium (City)AttendanceStadium Capacity
UzbekistanCityPark (St. Louis)15,56922,423
OmanAllianz Field (St. Paul)13,66519,400
GermanyPratt & Whitney Stadium (Hartford)37,74340,642
GhanaGeodis Park (Nashville)18,46830,000

The 15,569 at CityPark in St. Louis was disappointing as the US had just played there four games prior and sold the place out. 13,665 in Minnesota was a huge letdown. It is the worst USMNT crowd in three trips to that 19,000-seat venue. And of course, 18,468 in the largest soccer-specific stadium in the country is just over half full.

Nashville has proven to be a great spot for the USMNT over the years. It provided four crowds exceeding 40,000 since 2015. The USWNT drew a very good crowd of over 25,000 in February. On Tuesday night at Geodis Park in Nashville, the crowd was underwhelming. Parking around the stadium was no issue and there was little in the way of pregame tailgating. Concession lines moved briskly. Only the bathroom lines caused people to spend much time in line waiting for anything.

Most of the schools in the greater Nashville area are on fall break. Therefore, the ‘school night’ excuse holds no water. The US roster was also about as stacked as it could be. Only Tyler Adams was missing, so that potential excuse is also unfit. Nashville has shown good enough support for both national teams and Nashville SC in MLS. In the past, it was part of US Soccer’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup. In short, there should have been no reason for the crowd to be as poor as it was despite the downward trend in attendance.

Weak USMNT opponents hurting attendance

The two home games in September were against opponents that, quite frankly, don’t move the needle in the international soccer scene. Neither Uzbekistan nor Oman has ever been to the World Cup or seriously contended for an Asian Cup title. Nor do they have any players plying their trade at top-level European clubs. And while Ghana is a name that American soccer fans are familiar with, it’s been nearly a decade since the last World Cup battle between the two. As a result, attendance suffered.

It should come as no surprise that of these four games, the one with the biggest name opponent had the largest crowd. Germany is a four-time World Cup winner and has a roster replete with top-level club players. That’s a team that US fans want to see. US Soccer would be wise to schedule more opponents of a similar nature in the buildup to World Cup hosting duties in 2026.

USMNT routs Ghana

The attendance may have been poor, but the performance turned in by the US against Ghana was exceptional. They scored four first-half goals and all the biggest stars got in on the fun. Gio Reyna opened the scoring, Christian Pulisic added a penalty, and Folarin Balogun scored a great goal.

Then, in one of the more bizarre moments in USMNT history, Gio Reyna scored a goal off an indirect free kick in Ghana’s penalty area. The referee halted action for a dangerous play from a Ghanaian defender who sat on the ball. The US made Ghana look so amateurish in the first half. After Gio Reyna’s second goal, one member of the Ghanaian media exclaimed, “This team is goofy as hell man!”

The second half once again featured the US players making Ghana look silly. USA boss Gregg Berhalter rightly subbed off Pulisic, Balogun, and Reyna at halftime. Tim Weah and Sergiño Dest in particular had their share of flicks that left Ghanaian defenders flat-footed. The US was unable to put any more goals past Ghana, but it did not matter. The game had been decided since Reyna’s opening goal in perhaps the most comprehensive and dominant half of soccer the US has played in quite some time.

Unfortunately, it did so in front of an underwhelming crowd.

Upcoming games

Before the end of the year, the US does have one more home game to try and help change the attendance tanking narrative. It’s a Nations League game at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas on November 16 against Trinidad & Tobago). This will be the fourth USMNT game at Q2 Stadium since it opened in the summer of 2021. All four will have been competitive fixtures, the first three of which were sellouts.

The US then figures to have at least one, maybe two, games early next as part of the annual January Camp. And then over the summer is the Copa America to be played in the US, though no venues have been announced as of press time. Those games may provide a nice attendance boost. But until then, poor attendance will continue to be a concern.

PHOTO: IMAGO & Icon Sportswire