Columbus is set for the US / Mexico showdown. Here are the five other venues US Soccer needs to select to host the World Cup Qualifying Hex matches.
While the US is usually safe qualifying for the World Cup nowadays, that doesn’t mean the federation shouldn’t give the team every advantage possible. Some nations play home matches at key venues, like England in Wembley or Mexico in the Azteca. Predictably, US Soccer is sending the US home match against Mexico in the hex to Columbus. Columbus gets that honor seemingly every time, even with a small capacity – and a disappointing finish to last year’s MLS season.
That leaves 5 home matches to get creative with. Here are the 5 revenues that US Soccer needs to host their remaining home matches to create the environment the national team deserves.
USMNT matches need to play only in stadiums that host MLS teams. There is no reason to give it to an NFL-only stadium or dome. Reward the stadiums and fans bases the MLS has built! San Jose just opened this beautiful stadium in the last few years and hosted the most recent MLS All-Star game. The San Jose/San Fran area is massive. Plus you’d have the largest continuous outdoor bar to pre-game at. Bring on Panama!
4 – Camping World Stadium (Orlando)
I debated this one, because it’s far south and a chance for away fans to travel. Orlando topped Seattle for a single match in attendance this year drawing in well over 60,000. Give them a national team game and it will sell out. The Purple Army will morph into the America Outlaws quite easily. A night game in front of that crowd on national television is exactly what US Soccer should be looking for.
The capacity is only around 18,000, but they make that place a fortress for night games. Continually selling out and the home to massive US national team watch parties. It’s surface is grass which is US Soccer’s preference and can showcase another jewel of the MLS stadium line-up.
2 – Red Bull Arena (New York)
A close pick for 1st, but only losing out based on size. Red Bull Arena can hold 25,000 and can offer something many other US venues cannot – the European feel with the covered stands circling the pitch. Over 20k US fans packed into that environment, under the lights, can produce a Champions League-like atmosphere.
1 – Century Link Field (Seattle)
Besides concerns over the turf, there is absolutely no reason the US is not playing in Seattle every cycle and every big tournament. Century Link field regularly sells over 60,000 for MLS regular season matches. Seattle leads the MLS in attendance every season and is a hot bed for soccer. The stadium is built for noise as the NFL has learned via the Seahawks. When you need a win, bring the party to Seattle.
And one more thing – US Soccer, please quit jacking up ticket prices! I want sell outs to deliver that crowd and visual you want for the TV cameras.