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Which cities should host USA qualifiers this cycle?

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The Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying gives each of the participating teams five home matches, five chances to host crucial qualifiers, five opportunities to let fans see important matches on their native soil.

For some countries, picking the venues for these matches is relatively easy. For some, like the United States, the wealth of options often leads to tough decisions and inevitably some unhappy fans who are forced to travel some distance to see the national team play.

Two of the U.S. national team's five home qualifiers have been set, with the Mexico match set for Feb. 11 in Columbus, Ohio and the Trinidad & Tobago match set for April 1 in Nashville. That leaves three home dates and a plethora of cities hoping to get the call.

Here is a look at the cities that should be in the mix for those dates, as well as a look back at previous Hexagonal round hosts:

 Here are the host cities of the past three U.S. cycles of Hexagonal Round qualifying:

2005– Foxborough, Columbus, East Hartford, Birmingham, Salt Lake City

2001– Columbus, Kansas City, Foxborough (2), Washington D.C.

1997– Palo Alto, Foxborough (2), Portland, Washington D.C.

What does this track record of home venues show us? Well, for starters, either Foxborough Stadium or the current Gillette Stadium have hosted at least one match during the Hexagonal Round, and a total of five Hex home dates in the past three.

You will also notice a dearth of Western venues. Palo Alto and Salt Lake City are the lone Western venues in this mix.

You will also notice the absence of Chicago, which has never hosted a Hex home date. In fact, Soldier Field has never played host to a World Cup qualifier of any kind.

Can U.S. Soccer address some of these issues with the three remaining unassigned home dates? It is possible and actually pretty likely, which is why Soldier Field and the newly-built Rio Tinto Stadium are looking like good bets to host matches.

Here are some candidates to host:

Chicago– The suburb of Bridgeview hosted the Trinidad & Tobago qualifier in the previous round of qualifying and the attendance was disappointing. Soldier Field looks like the safer bet if the USSF calls on Chicago again. There are rumblings that the Honduras qualifier on June 6th will be held at Soldier Field.

Salt Lake City– Rio Tinto Stadium is arguably the most beautiful stadium in MLS and Salt Lake City's central location for most of the Western states makes it the perfect place to cater to a side of the country that hasn't had many Hex matches in the past. If U.S. Soccer wants to take advantage of cold weather again, as in Columbus, an Oct. 15th match-up against Costa Rica might be a bit chilly in Utah. The only problem with that date is that the New York Red Bulls face Real Salt Lake that same night. Could we have a doubleheader?

Washington D.C.-RFK Stadium hosted a great turnout for the 6-1 drubbing of Cuba last round but memories of the 2001 Hexagonal loss to Honduras (when Honduran fans outnumbered U.S. fans by a more than 2 to 1 margin) still linger. With Honduras and El Salvador among the remaining opponents, that would leave the Oct. 15th qualifier against Costa Rica as the most practical choice. Would U.S. Soccer risk the home-field edge yet again by playing host to El Salvador at RFK Stadium on Sept. 5th? Considering the potential crowd such a match would draw, something tells me it shouldn't be ruled out.

Foxborough, Mass.– Most fans outside of New England and the New York/New Jersey area are likely to object to Gillette Stadium even being considered, which is fair considering New England has hosted multiple Hexagonal qualifiers in each of the past three cycles, but that track record means you have to include Gillette in the conversation. Could the folks in Foxborough wind up settling for Gold Cup matches instead? It is a real possibility, and the most fair move the USSF could make.

Philadelphia– So why Philadelphia? It would give the East Coast (and by East Coast I mean New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) its first Hexagonal home qualifier. It is probably a long-shot, but there is something to be said for having Philly host a match just months before the Philadelphia MLS expansion team is set to kick off.

East Hartford, Connecticut– Rentschler Field did a fine job in 2005 of being the host for a Hex home game, but the AEG-operated venue is probably too much of a long-shot this time around. Consider it an emergency alternative, though one that probably won't be needed this time around.

So what do I see happening? I see Chicago, Salt Lake City and Washington D.C. being chosen for the three remaining unassigned home dates. The safer bet would be El Salvador in Utah on Sept. 5th and Costa Rica at RFK Stadium on Oct. 14th, but flipping those two games would make for some interesting crowds.

What do you think? Which cities would you like to see receive one of the three remaining home dates?


Which cities are you hoping get home qualifiers? What would be your ideal schedule?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. really, portland or seattle would be great options. PGE is great and the fans in oregon are fantastic, and so are the supporters in seattle (and they have no problem bringing in real grass for a WCQ…they made the stadium to get such events, and the logistics have already been worked out). if you really want a concacaf foe to suffer, send them to seattle…other than alaska or hawaii, you can’t give an opponent a further trip. oh, and since toronto isn’t in the US, aren’t there more MLS season ticket holders in seattle than any other city in the country? shouldn’t they be rewarded, and not the 10K who show up for revolution games in the sh*t hole known as foxboro? just sayin…

  2. If a WCQ is on the West Coast then give it to Seattle. It would be convenient for me to drive to a WCQ in the Bay Area or L.A. since I live in California but spread the wealth. Games at the HDC always draw poor crowds. I was at the friendly match against Japan in San Francisco and it was NOT a pro-U.S. crowd. Give a WCQ to my west coast neighbors to the north. Seattle usually has a great track record for attendance at soccer matches and that’s just for the USMNT. Over 43,000 for a friendly vs. Russia in ’94 at the old Kingdome, over 38,000 for a friendly vs. Honduras in ’02 and that was at Safeco, a baseball park. Combine that with the fact that nearly 20,000 season tix have been sold for an expansion team that hasn’t even begun play yet. Seattle has done beyond enough to earn a USMNT WCQ.

  3. I’m with JB. The venues should be World Cup capable. None of this tiny little 25,000 crap.

    Seattle is a must on that list, because if a World Cup does come here, Seattle will be one of the 12 host cities.

    67,000 and there is a ticket base that is unbelievable already. Qwest for the Cup.

  4. no, kaiser, they probably couldn’t, but Michigan students or Penn State students (at Beaver) could… and the stadium is centrally located in the country, so those of us that are financially secure could certainly travel

  5. U.S. Soccer needs to showcase their World Cup bid. All the remaining WCQs should be in major stadiums. June 6th is a Saturday and the sendoff for Confed Cup. September 5th is a Saturday on Labor Day weekend. Anything less than outstanding attendance at a large stadium would be disappointing on those dates.

  6. How on earth is Seattle not on your list, Ives? You used the reasoning of playing in Philly because of the new MLS franchise…well…what about the Sounders? Seattle has had incredible turnouts for every friendly of EPL or national teams that has been played in Qwest. The stadium is big enough and grass CAN be installed if that is necessary. Seattle needs to get some love from USSF.

  7. SF Bay Area! It is crazy how this area is overlooked. I have never lived anywhere where it felt more like soccer was taken seriously in this country. I live in San Mateo, and people were spilling out of bars for the CL matches, and skipping work in the morning for the World Cup. Our CFO is a Celtic fan, and he’s the last guy you would expect to care about ANY sport! (And not Scottish or Irish).

  8. DC for sure. The Place really rocks for US games, who cares about the other team. Against Cuba, and in a game that was essentially meaningless, we put 20,000 American fans in the stands. Imagine what a game against say Honduras when it actually matters would be like. It would certainly be a shut out, hope they bring it here soon.

  9. what happened to HDC being the “home” of the usmnt? I understand not having qualifiers against latin countries but we should get the Caribbean games. All we get are meaningless friendlies against sweden and denmark.

  10. I’m surprised Nashville got a game, I’d go with SSS in MLS cities (Salt Lake, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas), other MLS cities with an MLS team and a nice soccer history (Foxborro, DC), or a great soccer town (Portland, St. Louis).

    Nashville is none of those things.

  11. Seattle needs a game. The Portland qualifier back in ’97 was well attended, and there were quite a few Seattle folks who made the trip down there. The Honduras friendly that was at Safeco before the 2002 WC was well-attended, and many Portland people came up for that game. I think Qwest could potentially sell out if they played the game here during the summer. Either of the two June dates would be great (assuming those are home games).

  12. My question to you all…will QWEST be putting in grass?…I will not accept any USA match on plastic ever again…friendly or not…

  13. I live in the South, I have little to no chance, I guess I just have to wait for some “friendlies” in order to see another match at Reliant Stadium, (Houston Tx, for those of you who did not know) or even the Superdome in N.O. would be crazy! What do you say Ive??? Friendly matches is all I can look forward to?
    When has there been a soccer game in a dome over here?

  14. Brushes Sand, I have no idea what you’re saying(who brought up settlements exactly?) but what I will say is that the list I provided was based mainly on past history and what I’ve been hearing about for this year.

    I haven’t heard a peep about Dallas. It doesn’t mean they still might not wind up with one. I just don’t see the USSF giving Pizza Hut Park a qualifier against a Central American team. If they’re going to play in front of a hostile home crowd they might as well go to DC where they can sell three times as many tickets.

  15. a capacity US crowd at Beaver Stadium (Penn State) or The Big House (Michigan)… both are bigger than Azteca… when this becomes a reality is when soccer has truly arrived in the United States

  16. Folks, the USMNT and MLS are not joined at the hip. Qualifying games should go where its best for the USMNT, not for MLS. Dallas doesn’t get a game because it would be good for Dallas, same as Nashville or DC. They get it because its best for the USMNT. Period.

    Typically that’s going to be larger venues in major markets, except when doing so will mean an away game.

  17. Seattle is a no go, as Sunil and Bob both said no to artificial turf, or grass that would be brought in only a few days before the game.

  18. I’d like to see some focus on appealing to the Mexican-American community and uncovering those nuggets such as Paco Torres, Michael Orozco(or conversly a Castillo) therefore I’ll second a Fresno, Texas, Southwest venue.

    If players such as these can envision themselves in red, white and blue….what a wonderful world this would be.

  19. No one has ever mentioned Charlotte as a sight. Why not? Charlotte has a great stadium, city, good soccer town and solid youth foundation, plus NC has 2-3 solid USL clubs.

    I think USSF is missing out on money in the Yuppy, Soccer Mom City of the South.

  20. Why would they say Seattle was a finalist to hold the US-Mexico game and then end up not giving it ANY game? Seattle’s been selling out these big games one after another, 60,000 strong. They run the risk of alienating many a fan if these games don’t make it further west than SLC.

  21. Ives, Astoria was founded in 1812 and Portland is therefore “the oldest US Settlement on the West Coast”. There have been THREE hexfixtures in “the west”:


    Palo Alto

    Salt Lake

    The critical miss is that there has been

    only ONE hexfixture in the South (BHM)


    Those I/O’s and communities which ponied

    for venues are supposed to be rewarded.

    The very idea that you did not include

    Dallas in your list of viable venues,

    given it was the third SS-venue to come

    online, is pathetic and is proof point

    #4375 of the Coastal Media Bias.

  22. How about Seattle? It surprises me its not in your list. Same goes with Portland which is very Pro-US crowd last time they played there.


  23. Went to that game in Rentschler Field. There was a good pro USA crowd at that game. I guess I will be bias since I live in NYC, so I would prefer one close to the metro area. But at the same time I want the best facility that gives the US team the edge, if that means alaska, so be it!

  24. Yeah, Dallas would draw well for a WCQ. I was at Pizza Hut Park for the US/Guatemala friendly in ’06 (or was it ’07?) and the stadium was full.

  25. Rio Tinto for sure! A double header would be great. ESPN could cover both games, more exposure for the MLS, and as a RSL season ticket holder, I can confirm that Rio Tinto is the most technically friendly stadium for the cameras and press. Both games would sell out in 5 minutes, and the central western location would be better for tourists from Texas to Seattle, etc. Denver can’t sell half their seats to a Rapids game.

  26. This is a crazy idea, but in the central valley in california lies Fresno State University… 41k + and people here love soccer.. plus the bay area and LA are both only 4 hours away.. anddddd the seats are aleady red so it will look like sams army everywhere lol… but seriously anyone think this is a good idea

  27. Portland hosted the only true American crowd when they played CR in 1997. I’ve been about 20 USA qualifiers from 1989 (in St Louis) thru USA/Mex in Columbus in 2005 and no crowd has been more Pro-USA than the crowd in Portland. I would bet the players in that game would agree.

    My vote: Portland

  28. Gotta be Seattle. This town packs the stadium for international matches, which actually maintain their status as US “home” games – as opposed to games in LA or Texas. Plus the building is a perfect soccer venue. And the Euro boys can fly here in less than 9 hours.

  29. No way this is going to Giants Stadium. I do indeed think the USSF is afraid that the game would be sold out but 50% of the fans would be cheering on either El Salvador or Costa Rica. Though I think in future year’s with Red Bull Arena the USSF is going to have to consider the NY metro area regardless of opponent due to the fact the field will be real grass and the atmosphere will be f’in LOUD!

  30. I was at the US/Honduras game in 01 and still get alternating shivers of joy and fright. I’m conflicted, so, give us the Costa Rica game and call it good. It’ll be a sell out regardless of the country we play.

    If DC doesn’t get Honduras/ELS, NY/Chicago should also be disqualified because you’re looking at the same atmosphere.


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