Sparkling new, but Red Bull Arena hasn't been full

As of this season, there no longer is any question over which team in Major League Soccer has the best stadium.

But for all of the quintessential soccer-specific offerings of Red Bull Arena -- a cozy but sizable 25,000-seat stadium in Harrison, N.J. -- it hasn't exactly turned New York into the darling of league.

Up nextUnited at Red BullsWhere » Red Bull ArenaWhen » Saturday, 7:30 p.m.TV » Comcast SportsNet

"The talk is there, but everything else to back it up just isn't," United goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. "No one comes to the games still, which is a really big disappointment. I've driven by it in a train, and it's beautiful. It's about as close to a European stadium as you could get."

The long-suffering Red Bulls (8-5-1) also are enjoying one of the best seasons in franchise history. But their average home attendance (16,282) still ranks right alongside the MLS average (16,443).

That could change if New York officially adds French striker Thierry Henry. But for now, it's the kind of figure that makes front office stomachs turn at D.C. United, which continues to be dragged down by RFK Stadium and an endless lack of progress in its own stadium pursuit.

"Whenever you're a big brand or in a big city, it's tough to build a stadium," United forward Santino Quaranta said. "I was happy when they broke ground on that park."

Quaranta also will be happy to deliver some payback for a 2-0 home defeat on May 1 that seems like a lifetime ago for an improved and confident United (3-9-2).

"I think that given our past with New York, it's a special game for us," Quaranta said. "We're looking forward to the challenge."