The official crowd for the match was 26,170, and Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks, who claims Jewish roots through his mother, greeted the two teams at midfield before the match.
Although Israel won by two goals, the match was pretty even throughout. The two national teams are at a different point in training; Israel is entering its offseason, and won’t play a World Cup qualifying match until September.
The Honduras team, on the other hand, has a big World Cup qualifier match on Friday against Costa Rica, and used the game at Citi Field as a final tuneup. The outcome of Friday’s match could determine who goes to Brazil in 2014.
While the teams both sport blue-and-white colors, it was pretty evident that the majority of fans in the crowd were rooting for Honduras. That’s not unusual, as Central American soccer fans are known for their intense loyalty and willingness to follow their teams around the world.
And the fact most Latin American countries are well represented in New York City, and especially Queens, Honduras fans in many cases didn’t have far to travel.
Likewise, while the New York Jewish community may identify culturally with Israel, they don’t necessarily identify with their sports teams.
It was the first New York appearance by the Israeli team, which is ranked 59th in the world, in over 35 years. Honduras came into the match ranked 50th in the world.
It’s the third straight year that Citi Field has hosted an international friendly. Last year, Ecuador defeated Chile, 3-0, and the year before that Greece battled Ecuador to a 1-1 tie.