San Jose was the location. Avaya Stadium was the venue. The matchup was USA v Honduras in a vital World Cup qualifier.
This would be my second time attending a U.S. Soccer World Cup qualifier. I have been to plenty of soccer games before, but with so much on the line, there is something special about a World Cup tie.
I landed in San Jose on Friday morning and made my way to the official U.S. FanHQ at San Pedro Market, where I found a U.S. Soccer pop-up shop selling official merchandise. This was also where the pre-game started for me later in the day.
We enjoyed food and drinks alongside Al Korpus and Ed Pitney, who were attending the game as well and so happened to have played professionally in the NASL in the 60’s and 70’s.
We caught a Lyft to the stadium a couple hours before kick-off. The driver, of course, was from Central America, so we talked about the game the whole ride. We all agreed the game would be tense.
I became increasingly fascinated as we got closer to Avaya Stadium. The intimate atmosphere of the stadium only added to aura of the night. With only 18,000 seats and home to North America’s largest outdoor bar, the Euro-style venue is unlike any other stadium I’ve ever been too.
Fans poured into Avaya just as the rain began to come down.
I took the opportunity to snap photos of the U.S. National Team players as they warmed up. Fans crowded close by to watch and try to get the attention of their favorite players. But the whole team was professional and focused on the task at hand- getting three points against a strong Honduran team.
Kickoff was set for 7:30pm. We took out seats. The national anthems started at 7:25pm. The U.S. scored the first of their six goals of the night at 7:35pm.