A month ago after the US Men’s National team qualified for the Hexagonal stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in 2013, I projected the five venues for hosting. After yesterday’s draw to release the schedule, it is time to update those projections now that we know the when and who of it all.
The US road to Brazil is a tough one with three of the first four games on the road. But with that four out of the last five are at home.
I still believe Columbus and Kansas City are locks to host games. Figuring out the other three seems a little more cut and dry now that we know when these games are and who they are against.
Here’s the full schedule again: 2/6 at HON, 3/22 vs CRC, 3/26 at MEX, 6/7 at JAM, 6/11 vs PAN, 6/18 vs HON, 9/6 at CRC, 9/10 vs MEX, 10/11 vs JAM, 10/15 at PAN.
March 22nd- vs. Costa Rica at Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy Utah
I originally had Costa Rica playing in Philadelphia and Rio Tinto hosting Jamaica. I believe playing Costa Rica in Sandy makes more sense now that we know the schedule. For one reason alone, the US has to play in Mexico City just four days after this game. It makes loads of sense to play this game in altitude to prepare for that fact.
June 11th vs. Panama at Red Bull Arena, Harrison New Jersey
Days before this home match the US is in Jamaica, so staying on the east coast makes plenty of sense. Previously I had Red Bull Arena on the shortlist of venues that wouldn’t make the cut for various reasons but this one jumps up due to the schedule and timing of the game. I like this game on the east coast and since it will be in summer, my previous prediction of a game at Hartford’s Rentschler Field seems less likely.
This one is still a big time guess but it is one I am willing to gamble on with this opponent.
June 18th vs. Honduras at PPL Park, Philadelphia
This one is totally open in my mind. It could be played at Lincoln Financial Field instead for the larger crowd. Or it could be in Nashville at LP Field. Jacksonville is also another possibility. I’m going with Philly for a couple reasons though. For starters, I don’t the USSF will pick a venue that Honduran fans can outsell the US fans. It has happened in the past in places like RFK Stadium and in Chicago. Philly seems like a good bet to be able to handle this game for that reason.
But don’t sleep on a wild card pick here for this one. The USSF could gamble on a west coast host for this one as well as there won’t be a game following this one on the schedule until September. Could this finally be a time that Seattle installs real grass and gets a hosting bid? I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened.
Sept. 10th vs. Mexico at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio
I don’t buy into the rumors or talk that Columbus won’t be hosting this game. I just don’t and won’t until the actual schedule from the USSF on hosts comes out and they aren’t hosting this game. It’s a good tradition for the US and the last time they played Mexico in Columbus during a WC qualifier in September they won. 2-0. Let’s do it again folks.
Oct. 11th vs. Jamaica, at LiveStrong Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas
KC is the other lock host after this past fall and I think this game fits them well. It will be the final home game of qualifying and if it needs to be an important one for getting into the top three or what not, then this place makes perfect sense to host this game.
Other thoughts on the schedule:
– Those first three matches are brutal. Seriously. The US did luck out a bit in getting Honduras as their opener though. Even though Honduras will give the US a big fight, I still like their chances on the road to get a draw in that one in February.
– The US should qualify. I stress the word should there for a reason. Yes this is a tough group and people will beat that thought to death over the next several months. But it is a group that the US can do well in.
– That being said, don’t sleep on a slow start from the US. Three of four on the road to kick off qualifying is a crap thing to have but they get the toughest trips out of the way early.