Saturday the United States Men’s National team plays its second game in the Gregg Berhalter era at Avaya Stadium. The WWE is not having an event in the Bay Area, so I expect the crowd to be marginally larger than the dismal crowd that showed up in Arizona last Sunday. Most of the crowd in the stands will be made up of locals, but for anyone that hasn’t made the pilgrimage to Avaya Stadium I have created a guide to help you navigate.
The kickoff is at 12:30 so you’re going to want to get your party started early. Don’t mess with trying to start downtown. You have the rest of the day to explore that part of town. The parking lot is much smaller this year because of the ongoing construction around Avaya, but you should still be a spot to set up your space. Even better reach out to the American Outlaws and figure out where they will be setting up and take up a place nearby.
If the anxiety of a new generation of American soccer is too much for you to handle on a Saturday one of San Jose’s best-rated dispensaries is located a quarter mile from Avaya’s front gate. A pre-game visit there will have all the products you need to calm your nerves.
In the Stadium
Avaya is not the largest stadium in MLS, but there are still plenty of things to check out. Some of the things I will talk about may not be available for a game so early in the year, so I apologize in advance if things are different.
As you make your way to the stadium from the parking lot, you will probably follow the crowds past the San Jose Earthquakes front office to the main gate. As soon as you walk in the main entrance don’t make any turns and continue to walk straight into the stadium, this will lead you to the LOBINA, the bar you probably heard too much about when Avaya was under construction. The hype by the team was excessive but once you experience the 70-yard, two-sided bar you will understand the excitement. My favorite drink from here: the classic Cuba Libre (Rum and Coke).
As you are waiting for your drink take a moment to soak in the view in the stadium and beyond. Last USMNT match they erected a temporary stand that blocked the view from LOBINA but that was a world cup qualifying match, so the demand for tickets was higher, so I don’t expect a similar seating arrangement. Without this temporary stand, you will be allowed to get so close to the action that you can stand on the grass.
Food trucks at Earthquakes games are a tradition that has been around for years before Avaya opened. The type of food these magical trucks serve is as diverse as the people of San Jose. Got a hunger for homemade Italian food? Speedy Panini will blow your mind with their sandwiches. My personal favorite is the Polpette consisting of fresh meatballs, provolone, basil, and tomato sauce. Team sponsor and San Jose institution Taco Mania is another spot you won’t want to miss. With their bright pink paint job, it can be hard to miss them usually anchoring one of the ends of the food truck line. There are also grilled cheese trucks, ice cream trucks and on rare occasions a truck selling fresh brick oven pizza. Now enjoy the food and drink and watch the planes land at the airport for a couple of minutes.
By now you should be getting closer to game time and which means its time for another round of tasty beverages. Instead of heading back to the bar for another cocktail I suggest heading over to the Beers of the World area below the supporters section for some delicious suds. The international selection is pretty general, but the local craft beer selection is excellent and has enough variety to keep your test buds guessing. My go-to beer is a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid because the higher alcohol content is better at numbing the pain that the Quakes last couple seasons has created.
As you way your way back to your seat with your cold beer make sure to make a detour at the BBQ stand just below the section 118.
To boil down this guide into one sentence. When at Avaya Stadium get drinks at either end and food in between walks, the pitch is always in view.