Skip to content

U.S. Soccer budging on qualifiers in Portland, Seattle

Dec 27, 2012, 8:00 AM EST

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl released these little nuggets last night on his Twitter feed, updates which could influence which venues get next year’s five U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup qualifiers:

Even with the caution implied by the second tweet, this is good news for Portland and Seattle. At least, it’s progress. Whereas before it was thought CenturyLink and Jeld-Wen fields were long shots to get any of The Hex’s games, now it seems U.S. Soccer is willing to be flexible in order to get final round qualifying matches in two highly desirable venues.

Seattle’s virtues are obvious. True, it’s a big football stadium in a day and age when Soccer Specific Stadium is becoming dogma, but consider the upside. It’s a huge football stadium, meaning we could see around 70,000 people backing the U.S. for a meaningful match.

And unlike other places that can draw similar crowds, Seattle’s is likely to be heavily pro-U.S. That’s something you couldn’t say in Los Angeles or Dallas. Even New York’s crowds tend to include a large number of non-USMNT supporters. When was the last time the national team played in front of a supportive crowd that large?

source: Getty ImagesPortland’s virtues lie on the other end of the spectrum, but with the charged atmosphere Columbus’s Crew Stadium was able to generate for a recent qualifier, U.S. Soccer seems interested in pursuing similar venues – locations which may not sell tons of tickets but will generate an imposing, bandbox atmosphere.

That’s Portland. Jeld-Wen can’t hold much more than 20,000 people, but it might have best atmosphere in Major League Soccer. The full voice of the field’s crowded north end would give the U.S. the type of unique setting that proves problematic for teams not used to a venue.

There seem to be few drawbacks to trying to get Portland and Seattle in the rotation. Travel is often cited as a deterrent, but in instances where the U.S. is plays the first of a two qualifier set on the road, the extra distance from Europe is a non-issue.

Ultimately, this game with Portland and Seattle has to stop. We’ve heard the reasons why U.S. Soccer avoids the venues, but the reasons seem thin compared to the sacrifice of leaving two potentially strong home field advantages out of the rotation (and two large fan bases out of the loop).

And sometimes, it all feels like a game of chicken. Who will flinch first? Each side seems to think they have some leverage. U.S. Soccer makes the final decisions and are trying to use that power, but Portland and Seattle know they offer enough distinct virtues to hold firm on some basic issues. Until now, both sides seemed to be holding out.

So while the idea of qualifiers in the northwest is exciting, the big news to glean from Wahl’s reporting is some movement in that stalemate – an apparent compromise. U.S. Soccer is willing to play on something that isn’t permanent grass while Portland and Seattle have to bring in the sod.

It’s good news, even if the debate itself is a bit of a farce.

More on the farce of the fake stuff later on the blog.

Latest Posts
  1. LIVE – Premier League at the half: Chelsea, Everton, Burnley lead; City even with Swansea

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:59 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Here’s your roundup of the six games that kicked off at 10 a.m. ET.

  2. Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

    Leicester City v Werder Bremen - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Can the Foxes half their alarming slide as the Black Cats roll into town? Watch live, here.

  3. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Queens Park Rangers (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:41 AM EST

    QPR's stable of stars has struggled in recent weeks. Can they pull it together and snatch an automatic promotion spot? Getty Images

    QPR is in the Premier League and needs at least a point to get out, while Newcastle is two points back of the Top Four.

  4. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:35 AM EST

    Manchester City v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    City is off the pace to win the league thanks to taking four points from its last available nine, the lone win coming in the Manchester Derby.

  5. Watch Live: Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Baggies took a point from Chelsea in both match-ups last seasons, and has a win against Chelsea in each of the two seasons before that.

  6. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Burnley (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EST

    Stoke City v West Ham United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Clarets win a second-straight game? Watch live, right here.

  7. Watch Live: Everton vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:13 AM EST

    FC Krasnodar v Everton FC - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    Will the Toffees continue their good form over the Hammers? Watch live, here.

  8. Raheem Sterling eager to commit future to Liverpool

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EST

    SterlingRodgers Getty Images

    Sterling says he is “happy to play for Liverpool for many years to come.”

  9. Arsene Wenger suggests Thierry Henry could return to Arsenal as a coach

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:15 AM EST

    Arsenal Training Session Arsenal Training Session

    Wenger: “I welcome people who have played for us to come back but not for just an honorary job.”

  10. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 12

    Nov 22, 2014, 7:18 AM EST

    Live Extra

    How and where to watch every single PL game from Week 12 live online or via the app.

  11. Inside Look: Not much separating Red Bulls, Revolution ahead of Eastern Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 PM EST

    Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo

    You could try to use the Red Bulls’ 2014 season to make inferences about what will happen Sunday against the Revs, but it’d be a huge waste of your time.

  12. VIDEO: LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane likes to show off, lob dead balls at moving cart

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

    Robbie Keane Robbie Keane

    Go ahead and try to be as good as Robbie Keane. Give it your best shot. Good luck, you’re going to need it.

  13. Spanish court comes to senses, lifts Real Madrid reserve manager Zinedine Zidane’s coaching ban

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE

    Zinedine Zidane can return to coaching after his nonsensical coaching suspension was lifted on Friday. Perhaps “qualified” needs redefining.

  14. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal calls Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” praises versatility ahead of Arsenal showdown

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    Manchester United Press Conference Manchester United Press Conference

    Louis van Gaal has called Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” but a “fantastic player” nonetheless before Arsenal showdown.

  15. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 12

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:30 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 12.

  16. Inside Look: LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders to square off in Western Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo

    It’s tempting to look ahead and crown the LA Galaxy MLS Cup champions already. A word of warning: Don’t do it at the Sounders’ expense.

  17. MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Red Bulls vs. Revolution, Galaxy vs. Sounders in Conference Championship first legs

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    The 2014 season is nearly finished, as the MLS Cup Playoffs resume this weekend. A few facts and stats to excite ahead of Sunday’s action.

  18. Jermaine Jones hears all the New England Revolution’s haters, thanks them for their motivation

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Bernardo Anor, Jermaine Jones — AP AP

    Dear haters: Jermaine hears you, is not bothered by you and still loves you. Look out, Red Bulls.

  19. MLS: Orlando City coach Adrian Heath signs extension through 2017

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The English-born coach has had big success in Orlando since the club began play in 2011, winning the regular season title in three of four seasons.

  20. Vancouver announces USL PRO team, expansion of training facilities

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:20 PM EST

    Whitecaps FC2

    Whitecaps FC 2 will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia.

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United