10 years ago the US played Costa Rica at Arrowhead Stadium in KC. It was my first trip to see the team in person and a game that I will never forget. At that time, it was difficult to find US games on TV (many games were on pay-per-view if they were broadcast at all) and you had to scour the internet for hours just to find any news relating to the team. That game, on a Wednesday night, drew over 37,000 fans to Arrowhead and set a midweek attendance record that would last for years. The atmosphere was electric and very Pro-American, and from what I can remember the celebration started early and continued deep into the night.
Contrast that to the game Friday night at the Home Depot Center where at best it was half-full and of those that were there, many were supporting the visitors. 10 years later, much has changed for American soccer fans. We have unprecedented coverage of games on ESPN, with great production and announcers. Soccer news is all over the Internet and even appears on SportsCenter and other mainstream media outlets. When the US National Team plays, twitter is abuzz about the game. Yet despite unprecedented coverage, people in Southern California refuse to attend, or better yet support our National Team.
Why US Soccer continues to put games in LA is baffling. If they were short of funds, you could understand playing Mexico at the Rose Bowl or Coliseum would make sense from a financial standpoint. But playing these games, in a half-full Home Depot Center makes no sense when there is demand for these games in other cities. They could make more money and have a much friendlier crowd in pretty much every other city in the country. Yet games are played at the Home Depot Center with tiny crowds and marginal support.
There are so many better candidates to host the National Team. Portalnd sells out their stadium and gets larger crowds then what US Soccer got in LA for reserve team matches. Seattle can always pull in a large Pro-American crowd. Kansas City has the nicest stadium in the country, and has one of the largest supporters groups, American Outlaws Kansas City. It is also close to other large American Outlaw groups that travel well from Des Moines and Omaha.
Although the result didn’t matter last night, in a year’s time the US will begin qualifying for the World Cup. It is time to play games only in places where we can have a large Pro-American crowd and sell out the stadium. Kansas City provided a great atmosphere 10 years ago and did it again last summer. If US Soccer were smart, it would set up shop in KC.