Christian Pulisic slammed USMNT fans who didn’t show up for the US men’s national team pre-World Cup friendly match against Morocco. The US team beat Morocco 3-0.
“I’m not super happy with the amount of Americans here, however that works out if I’m being completely honest,” Pulisic told ESPN. “But thanks to the ones who did come.”
On Wednesday, 19,512 people packed TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, far shy of the 26,000-seat capacity. Thousands of fans wore Morocco shirts and flags. Many of the Moroccan fans are Americans, but Pulisic was probably irritated by the absence of USMNT fans in the crowd.
His rage, on the other hand, might be better directed at the United States Soccer Federation, which pegged most tickets for the USMNT’s first of three home matches in June from $60 to as much as $160 per ticket.
“I don’t think we’re there yet in terms of the buildup,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter acknowledged on Tuesday. “I think that this is an important training camp for us as a group, but I don’t think the world is saying, ‘The World Cup’s right around the corner.'”
Many fans have long believed that U.S. Soccer, the sport’s governing body and organizer of all USMNT home games, has overcharged them. Some people still spend three figures to watch the most important of the team’s games, for instance, the World Cup qualifiers, which are often sold out.
However, this was an exhibition match against a lesser-known opponent on a weeknight in a medium-sized Middle American city. Rain was anticipated by the forecasters. Nobody foresaw the drama. As a result, it was unsurprising that fewer than 20,000 fans would pay close to $100 to watch the game.
This first World Cup warmup would have been surrounded by buzz and excitement in a regular World Cup year. The tournament’s first game would be a few weeks away. However, with the World Cup taking place in November, Wednesday’s match did not feel like the start of a send-off series.
Morocco fans turned out in large numbers because it was their team’s first encounter against the United States in the United States in 16 years. They descended on Cincinnati this week, flocking to neighboring Washington Park hours before the game began. They danced, drummed, and kicked soccer balls around, relishing the opportunity to see their national team play in the US.
Meanwhile, USMNT fans in Ohio have seen the team four times in the last eight months. Two of the seven home qualifiers were held in Columbus, with a third held in Cincinnati. The national team elected to return for a fourth time to draw supporters and more to take advantage of FC Cincinnati’s facilities, which served them well on their previous visit in November for the qualifiers against Mexico.
As a result, with tickets, transport, and other fees costing upwards of $100 per person, participation dropped. “It’s fantastic to be back in America and playing again,” Christian Pulisic added. It was also satisfying to win convincingly.
On Thursday, the USMNT will fly to Kansas City for a Sunday-friendly versus Uruguay. Ticket prices for that match start at around $90.