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Denver and DSG Park as U.S. World Cup qualifier site; anyone got a problem with that?

Jan 15, 2013, 4:06 PM EDT

DSG Park

So the choice has been made, the announcement coming later than most would have preferred.

Denver will be the site of the United States’ national team’s first home match in final stage World Cup qualifying. The Americans will play Costa Rica on March 22 at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

Even before today’s official announcement from U.S. Soccer, the feet-stomping consternation was already growing to full boil. “Denver? Why doggone Denver? What have they done to deserve such a plum?”

Well everyone really needs to calm down on this one.

No, the Colorado Rapids aren’t setting attendance records. But Denver and Dicks Sporting Goods Park will serve just fine as a U.S. Soccer qualifier destination. In the big picture, U.S. Soccer should basically consider two things when choosing World Cup qualifier destinations:

  • Competitive advantages, foremost. This includes, but probably isn’t limited to, field conditions, any edge that weather might create, ability to tweak the crowd balance as much as possible and logistical considerations of the before and after.
  • Some degree of diversity and variety in venue selection. That is, geographic diversity across a big land (a game West, a game East, one in the Heartland, one in the deep south, etc.) and some effort to spread the significant U.S. matches among as many communities as possible within the context of the first consideration. (Because, do we really want a see a game in freakin’ New England every year, as U.S. Soccer once seemed determined to provide us?)

Within those two overriding considerations, it would be great if U.S. Soccer gave more weight to the MLS clubs that have spent handsomely to develop their own grounds, a la the choice of Houston as this year’s first U.S. men’s friendly site.

That’s about it.  No community should feel any more entitled to a match than the next one – no matter how well the MLS games do or don’t draw.

  1. tylerbetts - Jan 15, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    You had me until the last line. No community should feel any more entitlted to a match?

    I almost agree with that. Except … there are some communities that have already started to become part of the American “big match” environment. Those communities are entitled to a match in every cycle. Basically, for now, that’s Columbus and Kansas City. Not because I say so. Not even because history says so. But because the players and the manager says so.

    Beyond that, yes. US Soccer should spread games around. Put them in parts of the country that have a thriving MLS team. Put them in parts of the country that have a thriving soccer culture but no MLS team. And not just friendlies and B-list Gold Cups. Put qualifiers everywhere that you want to grow the game in America. As long as there’s an airport, fans like me will show up and give you a home field advantage.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 15, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      Well, I meant that within the context of the considerations listed above. So, yes, a venue such as KC is “weighted,” so to speak, in the balance.

    • drewvt6 - Jan 16, 2013 at 12:30 AM

      Think back to BIG USA games. Now look at the following list, which one does not fit?
      New England, Columbus, DC, KC

      …if you guessed, KC you’d be right. Up till this cycle it was never worth considering a qualifier in KC.

      • wfjackson3 - Jan 16, 2013 at 8:38 AM

        Well considering our stadium has only been open for 18 months, that is true. But its viability before the current cycle isn’t really the point. Eventually we will have hosted a big game. Still, the USMNT players and coaches raved about the facility and atmosphere at the game here.

        The thing that I don’t understand about this decision is the weather component. I think Denver would be best suited to a summer or late fall game as it is much cooler than other options. Still, I don’t know anything about their stadium or gameday atmosphere. Is it any good?

      • tylerbetts - Jan 16, 2013 at 10:56 AM

        I care a lot more about what the manager and the players say about playing a big time National Team game at Sporting Park than I care about the history of where we played our qualifiers in the past. If the National Team stopped raving about the edge they get in Columbus from the fans, I’d be heart broken, but I’d stop advocating to have it as a permahost. Creating a home field advantage is much, much more important than history.

  2. charliej11 - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    SEAAAAAAaaaaattle !

    Glad Denver got this one. Denver is the biggest home field advantage (outside of Seattle)….if you are acclimated.

  3. pensfan603 - Jan 16, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    THis is the stadium i thought gave them the most home field advantage. Climate wise no other team is ready for this especially with the high altitude, plus you can help build the US Soccer Market by playing here. I think for those two reasons its good to pick.
    On a side Note when the Us lose in Jamaica they complained, but did not blame the lose on the amount of marijuana being smoked at the stadium saying it hurt there playing ability, with marijuana being legalized in Colorado maybe they wont have that problem when they go down to Jamaica as they will already be use to it.

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