As expected, it didn’t take long for U.S. Soccer to announce that the USMNT opening game in the Hex against Mexico would be played in Columbus, Ohio. After all, that’s where the U.S. has played Mexico since 2001 and they seem to always win by a famous scoreline that you may have heard of.
But U.S. Soccer has yet to announce where the other four home matches will be. This year, they are in a very interesting position where for each two game stretch of the Hex the USMNT will have a Friday home game proceeding an away game. That means the U.S. can in theory pick similar cities to the conditions of their away game to help them prepare for those elements if they so choose.
The question is, where should U.S. soccer host these games? For starters, these games are about one thing and one thing only, qualifying for the World Cup. They are not for making as much money as you possibly can. That’s what friendlies are for. That’s why, unless there’s a special situation, U.S. Soccer should be choosing cozy MLS Stadiums that are designed for soccer rather than half empty football stadiums. If more fans want tickets than the stadium can hold, so be it.
If you were in charge of U.S. soccer where would you put the games? That’s a question that can be taken to twitter. But if I was in charge of U.S. Soccer? Well here’s where I’d put them.
March 24, 2017: USA vs. Honduras (Denver)
There’s a school of thought that the U.S. should play the Trinidad & Tobago match in June in Denver’s altitude to prepare for the Mexico match at the Azteca but that’s a bunch of hogwash. Why waste one of the few homefield advantages the United States has by playing in Denver in June?
The March game is pretty much the only game that falls out in winter. Denver is a great winter city. As we found out from the snow-game against Costa Rica in 2013, the weather in Denver can pretty much be anything. The Americans are used to that. We have winter. You know who doesn’t have a winter season? Honduras. Put them in Denver in the winter and they’ll have no chance.
June 9, 2017: USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Jacksonville)
Sure people want to play this game in Denver to prepare for the Azteca’s altitude but that’s only one of the battles the U.S. will be facing. They will also have to deal with the heat and humidity that comes with Mexico City. Ergo the US should be looking for the hottest and most humid city they could find. If there’s a hotter and more humid city in the middle of June than Jacksonville then sure play it there, but Jacksonville is the one that comes to my mind, and the U.S. is undefeated there.
I understand the U.S. literally just played Trinidad & Tobago in Jacksonville this past September, but like I said, this isn’t about making money, it’s about qualifying for the World Cup. That last game worked out well for the U.S., just run it back. (If you want to move this game to Washington DC, I won’t argue).
September 1, 2017: USA vs. Costa Rica (Kansas City)
They have a great stadium, they have a great crowd. The atmosphere that the fans create in Kansas City is not only top notch but it’s mainly only rivaled by that of Columbus, Washington DC, and the Pacific Northwest. Kansas City deserves a World Cup qualifying match, and since they didn’t get one last round, they get one now. Plus Costa Rica will be the second toughest game the U.S. play, they need to play it in a good location.
October 6, 2017: USA vs. Panama (Washington DC)
Every other country plays their home games in their capital city, therefore the U.S. should play one in theirs too. The fact that RFK Stadium crowd always brings it is just an added bonus. If the Hex plays out like the last one did, the U.S. will have already advanced and this will be a 90 minute party. If it plays out like the 2010 Hex did, the U.S. will need to win to advance, and where better to play than the stadium that holds more USMNT wins than any other? And with RFK Stadium likely to close down after the 2017 MLS season, this would be one of the final games ever played and would serve as a fitting tribute to a historic stadium that has been so important for U.S. Soccer’s history.