In just one week, the US Men’s Soccer team will begin final round qualifying for the World Cup as the Hexagonal starts (six teams competing for three spots and one extra qualifier). The first game is in Honduras, while the second game March 22 will be played in Colorado, as the US is set to host Costa Rica at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. They tried to stay away from cities with a Caribbean fan base and that means risking a cold-weather climate game in March (plus they’re trying to acclimate the boys to the high altitude as four days later, they have to travel to Mexico’s dump known as Estadio Azteca). Unlike most other national teams, the Americans don’t have a true home stadium, thus making the selection and announcement always interesting. Excluding the Costa Rican game, USMNT has four more home qualifiers between June and October. The excellent blog Soccer by Ives has a great summary of ten possible venues where we could see these games played.
Columbus has been a traditional home for the USMNT and I think they deserve one spot. Crew Stadium may be bare-bones, but it’s important to show some love for those that have shown it for you. I’m also very big on KC. The Midwest is perfect for keeping the crowd big-time pro US and Livestrong Sporting Park (or whatever they’ll call it now) rivals Red Bull Arena for best soccer-specific stadium we have to offer. Unfortunately, we’ll never see a qualifier at RBA with the diversity of the NY/NJ Metro area. Next, I’d like to see Jacksonville as there was a wonderful atmosphere in Everbank Field for a friendly against Scotland last year. Scotland may be different than a CONCACAF team, but I think it’s worth a shot. Lastly, they need to play a game in either Seattle or Portland. The fans are fervent and MLS support is amazing in the Pacific Northwest and they should be rewarded with a qualifier. I understand the whole artificial turf thing and the time zone difference, but screw that, those are minor quibbles to preventing an absolutely rocking Jeld-Wen or CenturyLink.
It’s awesome to have this discussion now, because the soccer-stadium landscape is wayyy different in 2013 than it was in 1993. Personally, I’m hoping for a qualifier in Philly or New Jersey so I can join Sam’s Army for a game!