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Let’s play “Choose the site for U.S. World Cup qualifiers”

Jan 9, 2013, 10:03 AM EDT

U.S. fans

Five lucky communities will soon be named to host the United States’ final round World Cup qualifiers.

Well, four seriously lucky Louies, plus one that may or may not be quite as fortunate; by the time Jurgen Klinsmann’s men face Jamaica on Oct. 11 (the fifth and final home match), they may already be safely through to Brazil 2014.

If the choosing were mine, here are the five venues where Klinsi and Co. would be heading over the next nine months. (Disclaimer: I know everyone outside of these five places will hate me; the good soccer folks of Seattle and Portland will lead the pitchfork-and-lantern way.)

Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City: Great stadium, great fans who know how to get their “patriotism” on, and there already a history of success there (albeit not a long one.) Jurgen Klinsmann and his players were falling over each other to talk up that place last fall in the semi-final round win, so it’s hard to see how this one won’t be picked.

Red Bull Arena outside New York: Establishing that home field advantage here is more problematic, but it’s New York!  You know, the Big Apple, an iconic symbol of our country and a media center. Plus, if we’re only talking about MLS stadium (I know U.S. Soccer isn’t, but I am), it seats about 5,000 more than most of the league’s grounds. Games against Panama or Honduras in June would be the best chances.

Crew Stadium in Columbus (pictured): Of course Crew Stadium has to be in the mix. Who cares if the place doesn’t have the pretty things and fancy high-tech edges of other, newer grounds. This one has history, and important history, at that. It’s where Mexican ambition has gone to die. How cool is that!  Mexico vs. the United States on Sept. 10? Can we please book it?

PPL Park outside Philadelphia: Let’s show CONCACAF that not all the verbal nastiness is confined to small Central American nations. The brotherly fans in Philly can presumably accomplish that, right?  By the way, why aren’t we thinking of making Costa Rica play there in March? I know it’s not as close to Mexico as the other possibilities already mentioned, but aren’t we just talking about an extra two hours in the air here?

Rio Tinto Stadium outside Salt Lake City, Utah: Two qualifier appearances, two wins, glowing reviews from U.S. players, coaches and staff. There’s a lot to like, including the beautiful stadium. Unless you put one game in Southern California at the Home Depot Center, this will probably be the Western-most venue.

  1. tylerbetts - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Steve – for clarification, are these just the five you’d choose? Or are these your predictions? If the latter, do you have some inside information?

    This is one anxious Outlaw here – I live in one of the cities mentioned as a landing spot for the March game. And, I’m within driving distance of the other two, but I’m only willing to do one of those drives.

    If this is a prediction, and you’re using inside information, it seems like the RioT will get the March game. If it’s not and this is just where they’d be if you were the man in charge, what would be your thoughts using tea leaves?

    • Steve Davis - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Just where I would direct them; not predictions, although I do feel confident at least two or three will be on the list.

      • tylerbetts - Jan 9, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        Thanks for clarifying. At this point, the only thing I’m confident about is that Columbus will get Mexico, and KC will get someone else. The other three spots are all TBD to me.

  2. arjanroghanchi - Jan 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    US Soccer should do what most other countries do, designate one stadium as the home of the USMNT. It would go a long way towards “wembley, la maracana, el azteca”….

    there is no doubt that RBA would be the best long term.

    • valiantdraws - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      I disagree. This county is too big and diverse for that kind of thing. England is a tiny nation where one can drive across it in a day. The US is a totally different animal.

    • genebrooklyn - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Living in Brooklyn and an RB season ticket holder, I wish I could agree with you that RBA should be the home field for the USMNT. However, this country is just too large and diverse to pick one spot, where ever it might be. When you are trying to grow a product, I think you want to display your wares to as many different fans as you can.

      I know Brazil is large as well, but Sao Paulo and Rio (about 270 miles apart) so dominate the media, business, etc. of the country that it is much easier to pick Rio than here where you have not just NY, but LA, Chicago, the Texas cities, etc.

      Plus we love to organize our vacation travel on the basis of USMNT matches. Wonderful trips to Nashville, Salt Lake, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Orlando, etc. that we might not have made otherwise.

      • arjanroghanchi - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        your travel schedule aside, developing a USMNT culture around the arena and the NYC metro area is going to outstrip anything you can find elsewhere. Especially Kansas City or Salt Lake City

    • danielofthedale - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      Yeah, because you need to play your games in spot. Italy, Germany, Spain… they move their games around and it really hurts their team and fans.

      Come on playing all the games in place is just plan wrong. It basically tell the fans that don’t live in that area that you are not important. Also, in NYC just about all of our CONCACAF foes would have just as much, if not more support than the US.

      • drewvt6 - Jan 9, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        “It basically tell the fans that don’t live in [NYC] that you are not important.” – In NYC they basically believe that. In fact many believe there’s not really proof of anything worth seeing or visiting in between the Hudson River and LA.

    • jelliot1978 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      I would rather seem them build a stadium in the Pac NW then to see RBA as the home of US Soccer. That aside there is probably not a best home site because our country is so large and mixing the sites allows for both wider audiences and strategic planning. In fact the selection of either Colorado or Salt Lake for the first game would fall directly into the strategic part as the US plays at Mexico just a few days later.

      Also, just because some countries do something does not mean the US has to follow. New York state takes up more square mileage then the country of England and Pennsylvania is slightly under. Sure England can have a home venue because their entire population is a few hours away by car at most. Our two biggest cities our over 2400 miles apart.

      To your comment below about NYC area outstripping anything you can find elsewhere is already proven wrong. See that Seattle gets the highest attendance in MLS and NYRB cannot sell out a smaller stadium? I am a NE person but I am not naive enough to think that just because it is NYC or East Coast it doesn’t mean the best support is there.

  3. danielofthedale - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    I would hope they put a game in Nashville or Charlotte. Nice, relatively short drive for me. And the best way I have found to get my friends to give soccer a chance and turn them into soccer fans is taking them to a US game. This would allow me the chance to get a few more newbies to show up for their first cap too.

  4. pensfan603 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    predictions- Crew, Tinto, jeld-win, in Florida for one, live strong

    Want- Crew, Jeld-win, DIcks Sporting good, Livestrong, red bull arena.
    and tie between Toyota/ppl,
    last 3 mainly for spreading the sport

    on a side note Steve have you ever looked at demographics for your blog?

    • tylerbetts - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Tough to see Portland getting a game after the “no grass for anyone” comments from the Timbers owner. If one goes to the Pacific Northwest, it’ll be Seattle.

      • pensfan603 - Jan 9, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        sorry i ment century link

    • Steve Davis - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      We have some detail in our stat package, like the ability to see how many page views are coming from which country (for instance, we are HUGE in the Philippines today, for some reason ???), and we get information on traffic referrals and such as that. But, no, a more detailed demographic breakdown of domestic traffic isn’t available … not at my level, anyway.

  5. naboohq - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    I am so excited for these world cup qualifiers I can hardly stand it!

    “I believe that we will win!”
    “I believe that we will win!”

    I understand the thought of building a central US soccer stadium, but it just isn’t a good idea!
    And NEW YORK!?!?!?!? NO WAY! That’s one of the worst soccer cities in the country!
    They don’t even sell out Red Bull games when they have Henry and Marquez!!!! Are you serious???

    Besides, we have the advantage of making teams play where they don’t want to, for example, Costa Rica doesn’t like the mountains, but they don’t mind heat, whereas Mexico would love the play in the mountains, so hopefully they end up in the cold midwest somewhere, while we can make other teams play in the heat if we feel the need. We have a geographic advantage with our diversity, and I say we use it

    • mvktr2 - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      naboohq – ‘We have a geographic advantage with our diversity, and I say we use it’

      AMEN!
      I’d be for putting the games in Alaska if there were a proper venue! Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a solid approach and a contributing reason for why Mexican dreams die in Columbus.

  6. mondzy805 - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    It’s smart of US Soccer to never play Mexico, west of Chicago. Lol. Viva El Tri.

  7. naboohq - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    mvktr2 – Alaska would be great!, except for Canada games, too bad they got scored on 8 times! I thought they might make the hexagonal.

    I’m a little surprised nobody is giving Chicago a chance. It’s the US Soccer HQ, fire games are filled with passion. Not for the Mexico game of course, too many Mexicans would get tix! They had a hexagonal against Trinadad there last world cup and the US played really well in that game.

    I don’t see much hope for Philly, but I could be wrong.

    “THE YANKS ARE COMING!”

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