Maybe it was because of the Rangers. Or Knicks. Or Gay Games. It certainly wasn't the Yankees, whose attendance was routinely tripled by the World Cup games.
Maybe it was because every day in New York City feels like an international festival. Or maybe it was because New York City simply didn't have the time.
Whatever, the city that doesn't sleep also didn't care. It was interesting to drive to the stadium listening to New York City sports-talk radio hosts rip soccer, then arrive to discover mile-long lines at the front gates.
New Jersey license plates, all of them.
* IMPRESSIONS: Organizers could save tourists and taxi fare by dropping all pretenses that the game is being played in New York City.
The success of this venue proves it is time to start celebrating the ethnic charms and splendid facilities of northern New Jersey . . . and leave New York to worry about the Mets.
* YOU HAD TO BE HERE: The location for the World Cup host committee in this country's largest city? New Brunswick, N.J., 90 minutes from Manhattan.
The location of these New Jersey-played games as listed on commemorative postal stamps? New York.
* BEST: Do not underestimate the accomplishment of organizers who ran the Detroit venue by avoiding all traces of Detroit.
Games were staged an hour's drive north in the suburb of Pontiac, a bedroom community dominated by large front lawns and strip malls. If Detroit street gangs possess missiles that can fly that far, we didn't see them.
The venue MVP (Most Valuable Professor) was Trey Rogers, the god of sod. The assistant prof of turf-grass science at Michigan State actually made grass grow inside the Silverdome.
After three years of experiments, at a cost of $2.4 million, the indoor stuff held up admirably and was hailed by all but the most serious allergy sufferers.
* WORST: Much like East Rutherford and Foxboro, there was no there there. The venue lacked big-city energy and a pulse.
The streets emptied at 10 p.m. After night games, if you hadn't paid someone to hold a spot in line at Herschel's Deli, the happening spot was a Taco Bell drive-through.
Of course, after a game in the non-air-conditioned Silverdome, all anybody wanted to do was lie down in a nice comfortable meat locker.
* IMPRESSIONS: Smiling faces, helpful people, but mostly sweat. Three-alarm, two-shirt sweat.
* YOU HAD TO BE HERE: After the June 24 game between Brazil and Sweden, a thunderstorm passed directly over the media tent as hundreds of journalists were filing their stories. The thunder was deafening and the tent shook as if it were going to break.
Lightning threatened to knock out the power. The lights flickered, World Cup officials implored reporters to save their files or risk losing them.
This scene was repeated at media and hospitality tents in most of the venues. But aside from the Mexican team, nothing in the tournament has collapsed.
* BEST: We never thought we'd say this, but we liked the subways.
The blue line, which stopped three blocks from RFK stadium, was a shoulder-to-shoulder mass of international passion.
The Dutch fans made their mark by pounding on the ceilings. The Swiss, by chanting through the underground terminals.
The Mexicans demonstrated their presence with songs, singing loud even though they could barely breathe while crushed in overloaded cars during the final 10 minutes of the trip.
It was all underground, but it was true democracy, rare even for our nation's capital.
* WORST: Everything was wonderful until you actually walked inside RFK.
The stadium is falling apart. The Mexican fans literally caused it to rock with their constant bouncing during Mexico's emotional tie with Italy.
The stadium security officials were surly and overbearing. Maybe it was those horrible purple berets that made them so mad.
The stadium media-tent volunteers, mostly of college age, were the worst. This would be of no interest to the public, except many worldwide impressions of this country are created by foreign journalists.
And those foreign journalists were treated horribly. Little attempt was made to understand or deal with them.
Tickets were refused with no explanation given. Attempts to talk with media coordinators were denied. Questions about the facility were greeted with shrugs.
Translators working player interviews refused to even offer translated quotes until they had been typed and apparently approved by supervisors, which often took two or three hours.
When one Middle Eastern journalist complained about discrimination, one college girl working as a volunteer laughed in his face and replied, "I don't think so."
* IMPRESSIONS: Sports organizers beware. Any further events staged here should not involve any local volunteers or officials from this World Cup.
This is a wonderful city, and as our capital, it should be the one of the first places promoters go for big events. But now we wonder if haughty attitudes and low-rent facilities haven't kept the big games away.