The tournament may be hosted by the US, but it’s the Mexican national team that draws the largest crowds, from the very first game. Will we see one more USA vs. Mexico final?
As there are only three games and four teams left in this year’s Gold Cup. While the presence of Qatar in the semifinals might be somewhat refreshing, the remaining three participants seemed like a safe bet: Canada, Mexico and USA.
Surely the Martingale strategy wasn’t needed to help predict that, right? Well, wrong. Mexico scored only 4 goals in all group games, Qatar barely defeated El Salvador 3:2, while the host nation had to wait until the 83rd minute for the single goal against Jamaica.
In the end, we might see one more ultimate classic between Mexico and the US, which would be a true feast at Allegiant Stadium, with all tickets sold out well in advance. But before we move on to the semifinal games, let’s take a closer look at the crowds so far.
Mexico dominant off the field
In this regard, a bit unlike their performance on the field in early games, Mexico is by far the most popular team. Already their first fixture, against Trinidad and Tobago, enjoyed over 41,000 fans at AT&T Stadium. This was later topped by their final group match (El Salvador, at Cotton Bowl), when 45,792 people came. The only match of Mexico with somewhat underwhelming turnout was the second group game, against Guatemala, largely due to it being played mid-week.
Finally, the highest crowd of the tournament so far is also owed to Mexico’s participation. The quarterfinal against Honduras at State Farm Stadium was enjoyed by 64,211 people! The only game likely to beat it is Mexico’s semifinal or the final itself… if Mexico advance.
Doubleheaders a safe solution
Gold Cup’s weakness is the presumed huge disparity between strongest and weakest teams. For example, the clash between Suriname and Guadalupe attracted only a handful of people. Neither CONCACAF, nor BBVA Stadium released the official number but it seemed like barely a few thousands people, at best.
Since it was the final group game, it had to be held at the same time as the other final game, between two remaining group members. But in all other cases the US hosts were keen to invite fans to two games for the price of one. Doubleheaders, or two games back to back, were a way of trying to attract more people, while also making the competition more compact. The latter issue is primarily economic but in times of the current health crisis it also allowed most of the tournament to be played with limited travel by each team.
And yet the hosts, USA, proved not to draw major crowds, despite local media doing their best to encourage soccer fans. All group games of the US national team were played in Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park and only the final one, against Canada, saw the stands packed. Two first matches saw 12,664 and 7,511 people come, respectively.