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. Premier League Sunday preview: Big boys tangle ahead of League Cup final

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Howard rushed off his line to great effect in the first half to thwart Arsenal's offense. Getty Images

    Both sides of Merseyside are in action against a pair of Top Three contenders as the Premier League sends up two great appetizers.

  2. Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund and Bayern flying high with big goal performances

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:11 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    Bayern made 577 more passes than its opponents. That’s bonkers.

  3. Has Southampton’s bubble burst? Top four challenge takes yet another hit

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

    Koeman’s Saints have scored just once in their last five matches. Can they recover and remain in the top six?

  4. Report: England U-20/Man City U-21 defender loaned to New York City FC

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    http://www.mcfc.com/ http://www.mcfc.com/

    Facey, 20, was the captain of Man City’s highly-touted Elite Development Squad and had been on trial with NYCFC since early January.

  5. In-form Luis Suarez leads Barcelona to 3-1 win at Granada; La Liga, UCL beware? (video)

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi AP

    With an edge on Man City in the UCL and second place to Real Madrid in La Liga, Barca has a chance to do big things if it continues to click.

  6. Manchester United’s two-goal hero Wayne Rooney hails “deserved win.” Should he stay up front?

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:33 PM EST

    With RVP out injured and Falcao firing blanks, surely Rooney should remain up front…

  7. Stoke City 1-0 Hull City: Super sub Crouch stays hot, nabs Potters point

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:10 PM EST

    b0f8e07f8546f054f178b35c8325c107 Getty Images

    The giant Englishman scored less than a minute after subbing on for Mame Diouf, and Stoke stayed in the top half.

  8. Burnley 0-1 Swansea City: Own goal, Fabianski foil Clarets at Turf Moor

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:03 PM EST

    Burnley v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    The three points moved Swansea ahead of West Ham for eight in the Premier League table.

  9. Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland: Rooney nets double to seal easy win

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:57 AM EST

    Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

    Rooney’s double sees off a stubborn Sunderland side to cement United’s spot in the top four.

  10. Newcastle United 1-0 Aston Villa: Cisse’s goal keeps Sherwood’s Villans in the drop zone

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:55 AM EST

    cd5e63930af01b2ae5ebb9355e08734b Getty Images

    Villa’s 22 points are even with Burnley and QPR, but their goal differential is the worst of the three.

  11. VIDEO: Allardyce “shocked” by West Ham’s two-goal loss to Crystal Palace

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-CRYSTAL PALACE Getty Images

    Mark the date as the moment Sam Allardyce’s long shot dreams of European football for West Ham all but died.

  12. WATCH: Aubameyang/Reus pull Batman/Robin celebration, then Reus makes a GK look silly

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:34 AM EST

    @Bundesliga @Bundesliga

    TheRevierderby was all Borussia Dortmund, which keeps climbing the Bundesliga table after a horrible start to the season.

  13. VIDEO: Alan Pardew delighted with two-goal hero Murray despite red card

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Murray scores twice, gets red card in eventful outing at Upton Park.

  14. LIVE – Premier League, at the half: West Brom, Newcastle ahead; goalless elsewhere

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:55 AM EST

    Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Goals are in short supply. See if they arrive in the second half by watching live, here.

  15. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Hull City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:44 AM EST

    Hull City v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Sone Aluko and Gaston Ramirez move last week’s hero Dame N’Doye to the bench, as the Tigers look to put together a three-match winning streak.

  16. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Danny Ings will lead the charge for Burnley, which has controversially non-suspended Ashley Barnes in the Starting XI.

  17. West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace: Eagles win fiery London derby

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Eagles soar past Hammers a Murray scores twice, gets red card.

  18. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:35 AM EST

    Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Emmanuel Riviere gets a start for Newcastle, with Ayoze Perez heading for the bench. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez is back in the 18 as well.