Nobody enjoys discussing ticket sales and attendance. Even when numbers are high, praising the amount of people in the stands detracts from what's important: the match being played on the field.
However, low United States men's national team attendance has recently generated some discussion online, and not in a positive way.
The U.S.' 4-0 win over Bolivia was played at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City Kansas, traditionally a well-attended stronghold for the national team and MLS club Sporting Kansas City.
Last night, the match was noticeably under-attended:
Attendance: 8,894#USAvBOL— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) May 29, 2016
As pointed out by Leander Schaerlaeckens, the last four U.S. friendlies played on American soil have drawn less than 10,000 people. A mid-week friendly in Frisco, Texas drawing low numbers is expected, but an empty stadium on a holiday weekend in Kansas City raises a few eyebrows.
Rumors are floating around that the low attendance will carry over to the Copa America, so get used to more discussions about attendance and what it means for soccer in the United States, despite the prices for Centenario matches not being set by U.S. Soccer.
What is the cause of low attendance at the national team level?
The main complaint is that the price of tickets is too high, especially in an era where television and mobile viewing is increasingly accessible with exponentially advancing technology.
The obvious solution would appear to be lowering the price of tickets. Another possible solution would be playing friendlies in less traditional markets that haven't frequently hosted matches in the hopes that locals would come out in droves for their first live national team experience.
As troubling as low attendance could be for the bean counters at U.S. Soccer, they've made their choice for now: squeeze a lot of money from a smaller group of people as opposed to taking a smaller amount of money from a lot of people. They've probably done studies and determined that it's the smart financial decision.
It also appears that the fans have made their decision. When the match is big enough, they will show up. When a friendly opponent isn't Mexico or a top-15 nation and the ticket prices are sky high, they won't.
Personally, I couldn't care less about attendance as long as the team wins. As a New York Red Bulls fan, I'm used to pictures of a sparsely attended matches mockingly posted on social media. As a U.S. men's national team fan who has felt like a visiting fan at home matches, a half-empty stadium is preferable to one that is filled with fans of the opposing team.
With all of that said, let's get back to talking about the actual game and the upcoming tournament.