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Can U.S. soccer fill Red Bull Arena with U.S. supporters for World Cup qualifier?

Kellyn Acosta, right, and Dom Dwyer each scored in last weekend’s 2-1 friendly victory over Ghana before a pro-U.S. crowd of 28,754 in East Hartford, Conn. (Jessica Hill/Associated Press)

The U.S. Soccer Federation has selected Red Bull Arena in northern New Jersey as the venue for the World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on Sept. 1.

Now, the big challenge: filling the 25,000-seat venue with a partisan U.S. crowd.

For qualifiers against teams with notable followings in the United States, the USSF typically selects locations where it can manage the crowd breakdown through the size of the facility and local demographics.

For instance, the Americans enjoyed distinct home-field advantage for qualifiers against Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago by playing in small venues in Columbus and Denver, respectively. Offering a priority advance sale to MLS season-ticket holders in those cities, as well as U.S. supporters from around the country, exhausts supply quickly.

For the home match in March against Honduras — which has strong support in the United States — the USSF chose 18,000-seat Avaya Stadium in San Jose. U.S. fans scooped up most of the available tickets.

Red Bull Arena has one of the largest capacities among soccer-specific stadiums in U.S. markets; only L.A. Galaxy’s StubHub Center (27,000) and Orlando City Stadium (25,500) are bigger. And Costa Rica boasts a solid fan base here, though not nearly as large as the ones for Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Ticos supporters in the diverse Northeast are sure to pursue tickets for the Sept. 1 qualifier.

Orlando will stage the final U.S. home qualifier, Oct. 6 vs. Panama. The Panamanians have only modest support in the States but, if the team remains in contention for a World Cup berth, fans based in Florida will look to purchase tickets.

U.S.-Costa Rica tickets will go on sale to the general public July 25 on the USSF’s website. U.S. supporters’ groups, Red Bulls season-ticket holders and others in the U.S. soccer family will have early access through a pre-sale soon.

Soccer enjoys its most feverish support in the Pacific Northwest, but as long as Portland and Seattle play on artificial turf, the USSF will shy from those cities.

Fan breakdown aside, it’s great to see a World Cup qualifier in the New York metropolitan area for the first time.

With the Sept. 1 venue set, the U.S. team will appear in the following home cities over the next three months:

July 8: vs. Panama in Nashville (Gold Cup group)

July 12: vs. Martinique in Tampa (Gold Cup group)

July 15: vs. Nicaragua in Cleveland (Gold Cup group)

July 19: vs. tbd in Philadelphia (Gold Cup quarterfinals)

July 22: vs. tbd in Arlington, Tex. (Gold Cup semifinals)

July 26: vs. tbd in Santa Clara, Calif. (Gold Cup final)

Sept. 1: vs. Costa Rica in Harrison, N.J. (World Cup qualifier)

Oct. 6: vs. Panama in Orlando (World Cup qualifier)

Of note: Appearance in Gold Cup knockout matches hinges, of course, on advancement. CONCACAF, not the USSF, selects Gold Cup venues.

>> Ticket sales for the U.S. Gold Cup opener Saturday vs. Panama are around 40,000.

>> Coach Bruce Arena, on midfielder Kenny Saief leaving his first U.S. camp with a groin injury: “Kenny came here with a little bit of an injury and wasn’t able to overcome it. It’s best if he goes back to his club, gets healthy and puts himself in position for future qualifiers.”

>> Saief’s replacement, Chris Pontius, will arrive Friday following the Philadelphia Union’s MLS match against Sporting Kansas City on Thursday night.

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