Report: Three finalists in running to host USMNT qualifier vs. Costa Rica

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After a lengthy wait to find out just where the U.S. Men’s National Team would play the first home qualifier of the CONCACAF Hexagonal, it now appears we will find out this week just where that March 22nd match against Costa Rica will be played.

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl is reporting that U.S. Soccer has settled on three finalists to host the Costa Rica home qualifier. Kansas City, Salt Lake City and Denver are the remaining candidates to host the match, with the final choice expected to be made this week.

Sources have told SBI that Denver remains the front-runner for the match, though all three contenders have their benefits and draw backs. Here is a closer look at all three:

DENVER: Playing at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and training in the area, would provide the altitude Jurgen Klinsmann is looking for ahead of the March 26th qualifier in Mexico City against Mexico, but there are concerns about just how the turnout would be for a qualifier there.

KANSAS CITY: Memories of the great crowd for the qualifying win vs. Guatemala in October are fresh, and a real home-field advantage would be felt, but KC wouldn’t offer the altitude edge.

SALT LAKE CITY: Rio Tinto Stadium boasts the altitude factor, and RSL has a strong fan base, but the altitude training options in Colorado are better than they are in Utah. In terms of combining altitude with a good chance for a strong home crowd, Rio Tinto Stadium is arguably the best option of the three, but some sources suggest it is the third choice in this race.


What do you think of this development? Which venue would you like to see be chosen to host the Costa Rica qualifier on March 22nd?

Share your thoughts below.

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48 Responses to Report: Three finalists in running to host USMNT qualifier vs. Costa Rica

  1. David Vitek says:

    It almost has to be KC, even though JK desires the altitude training, we need to win this first game at home, we can not fall behind in the table early in qualifying and force ourselves to get results every game in the second half of qualifying. We need to set the tone early, unlike the first round of qualifying last fall and summer. KC will give us the best chance, and besides, all of the roster is familiar with the venue and area, will be more comfortable, as when the USMNT has not been to Denver in a long time, and Salt lake I believe last game was home vs Honduras in hexagonal in 09. We have not even started talking about the fanbase in KC either.

  2. Anthony says:

    Off topic, but, when is the full MLS schedule expected to be announced?

  3. Andres Spivey says:

    Salt Lake City makes the most sense I agree. KC gives the best home field advantage so save that for either Mexico or Honduras… Or both!

  4. SLR says:

    Any chance RSL is in the running for a different qualifier, say, October against Jamaica?

  5. Jason Maxwell says:

    Colorado had a full house for the women’s game (Pia’s last match) in the fall.

  6. Texian1856 says:

    They could hand out free roach clips to get more attendance in Denver.

    • Joe says:

      Hell yeah!!! My smoker Portland ass will be down there and a lot more vocal and sarcastic than you. See, because I actually care to see the games… and cue the plastic pitch comments in 3..2…1…

  7. juan says:

    I think they have all had their share of qualifiers and its time to come East again….specifically, New England. Its been a long time since there has been one here and we’re due

    • Jason Maxwell says:

      Denver has had 1 qualifier in the MLS era (the last game of the group stage in ’08, where the U.S. had already qualified for the hex by winning the prior game). They had 1 other friendly in 2002. That’s “their share”?

    • Jeremy says:

      doubt that they would want to have a home qualifier on field turf in NE

  8. Dimidri says:

    I’m no scientist but isn’t there a higher risk that all of our players who play in Europe normally will struggle in Denver more than the Costa Rican’s who mostly play domestically in some altitude?

    I’m pretty sure altitude training either cannot be gained that quickly, meaning it hurts us in the Denver game and isn’t useful for Mexico. Could have also just completely made that up as well.

    • Rory Miller says:

      The point is to get ready for Mexico, not to have an advantage over Costa Rica

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Costa Ricans have altitude too and everyone will be inseason so any camp won’t last long. No real benefit. Plus, the game is hard enough where the concept of approaching it as altitude training for the next game sounds goofy.

      I’d hold it in New York to make them fly awhile and make it easy for the Euro-based Americans to get here. So we want all our Germans to have to fly all the way to Salt Lake for a fake home advantage?

      • Camjam says:

        “Fly all the way to Salt Lake”……Yes, i’m sure the 3 hour difference in flight time coming from GERMANY is really going to make a huge difference to the guys.

        That logic pales when comparing the very real prospect of high altitude training for the game against your strongest opponent. But I guess that’s too goofy.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          “High altitude training?” Do you understand how close to the event the players will likely arrive? The 22nd is a Friday. Pretty much everyone including MLS will be in season by March 22. These players will not be released until after their last game, which might be as late as the 17th (Sunday). After travel the players might show up for practice on the 19th (Tuesday). Perhaps two to three practices, then a game on Friday. Some of the practices may be light to let players recuperate from playing and flying.

          Of course, Klinsi could train the heck out of them right before a game to get your altititude training and we’ll see how that turns out. Lose both?

          Have you ever been on a trip with multiple flights from Europe back to here? I wonder, if you’re suggesting it’s not gruelling. You play on Saturday or Sunday, may be tired, you likely have a multistop set of flights cross the pond then cross country to the western USA. You’re then supposed to show up and play well on Friday. I don’t think it’s well thought out. I think Klinsi has cutesy ideas here, but I would have instead maximized the CR game home field and treated the Mexico game as more of a 1 pointer, cause that’s what we’ll be lucky to get. Particularly considering the toughness of our early draw, I’m not a fan of being cutesy with the home matches we do have…..

          • jb says:

            Completely agree with this reasoning. Home against Costa Rica, we should be going for the win and 3 pts, therefore concentrating on all advantages for that match. You win that and even a loss in Azteca doesnt hurt much. For the 2 matches – (3 or 4 pts) is greater than (0,1, or 2 pts).

            Forget the “altitude training.” Concentrate on beating CR, then show up to Azteca the day before, give your best game and live with the results.

          • super star says:

            “multistop set of flights cross the pond then cross country to the western USA…” are you serious?

            • The Imperative Voice says:

              Look it up on Orbitz, Frankfurt to SLC is 2-3 stops by default. 20-30 hours of flying plus layovers and/or plane changes.

              Move it to NY and you have direct flights and 0-1 stops.

              I’d save SLC and Denver for Jamaica or Panama where you want to make them travel and test their fitness. For CR which is a good team that will probably be fit if not altitude prepared, we want our team max freshness and them traveling as far as possible.

  9. Shane says:

    Should be Denver. Is there any reason to think they couldnt offer a pro USA crowd equal to KC?

    • David JS says:

      Colorado has a pretty huge Latin American immigrant population, not sure about Costa Ricans specifically though.

  10. OBRick says:

    I have been to USA national team games at all three venues and I don’t think KC had a better atmosphere than SLC. They were about the same. I do remember people yelling at me to sit down in KC (very weak).

  11. Beto says:

    Denver for sure! Save KC for either Jamaica or Honduras.
    Crc- denver

  12. Paul Miller says:

    So we’re using a home game to prepare for an away game at Azteca. That’s a formula for losing both. Focus on winning at home. With all the players we’ll have flying in from Europe, put it at low altitude on the East Coast.

    • Alf says:

      I agree. You can not under estimate Costa Rica!

      • Paul Miller says:

        Absolutely not, Alf. I know their FIFA ranking is down, but I think they have a shot at second in the hex. And they are stronger up front… meaning they will have guys like Ruiz and Campbell running through our center defenders. This isn’t a game to screw around with. Given our schedule, it’s very possible we could be in last going into the summer games. If we lose or tie in Honduras, screw up against Costa Rica and then get nothing (as is probable) at Azteca, we’ll have like 1 point after three games. That’s not a hole we can’t dig out of, but we should be more careful with these early games.

      • NC Jeff says:

        +1 … first, focus on winning the game in front of you … THEN, focus on the game in Mexico City … heck, Mexico’s 3/22 game will be at all of 272 feet. I would have the game at a venue likely to provide a really solid pro-USA crowd, and at least sort of in between Europe and Mexico City … Boston and Columbus (OH) being the best at fitting those criteria, IMO.

  13. Herb says:

    We must be the only country that has to worry about wether our home crowds will be cheering for us and not against us.

    So sad, we cant hold a game in CA or the southwest…

    • sly says:

      Any of those former French colonies from Africa in France not Paris, Ivory Coast or whomever and you might see the same thing there.

      I remember I want to say Ghana or Zimbabwe in Wembley against England was like a 60-40 split to the home side.

      • Bobb says:

        That was vs Ghana in London I believe

        Of course the same thing would happen if the US played Ghana near NYC…

  14. Eddien says:

    Moot point. Costa Rica will win 3-1

  15. Woodenshoe11 says:

    Get the win at home against Costa Rica. With most guys coming from Europe, forget the altitude adjustment. KC is guaranteed to get a home Hex match…may as well be this important home match, especially since it is sandwiched between the two tough away matches to start our Hex schedule.

  16. Ruben says:

    If they are concerned about turnout, can’t go wrong with SLC, fans will show up to see Saborio play against USMNT.

    • Bobb says:

      Is this an argument for Denver, where fans would root against Saborio?

      The goal isn’t fans, this isn’t some random friendly, it’s pro US fans.

  17. Bobb says:

    In order of importance: Columbus, Kansas City, Seattle, Salt Lake, Philly

  18. Joamiq says:

    Salt Lake.

  19. ed - houston says:

    US soccer should just go ahead and make a reality show about selecting a site for home games. i throw my hat in for RSL

  20. ANM says:

    I completely agree with those who say we should not be hosting the CR game with the Mexico game in mind.

    The away game against Mexico is actually the least important game in the hex. It doesn’t feel that way, I realize. We almost always get beaten and it’s frustrating to fall to our biggest rivals. But almost all of our opponents will also lose there. And in a tournament where it’s necessary to finish 3rd or higher, the home games are of paramount importance. Getting the 3 points at home against Honduras, CR, Jamaica, and Panama is the cornerstone of our qualification effort.

    So don’t worry about Mexico, and schedule the CR game where they will experience the most discomfort–whether it’s travel time, weather or whatever.

    • Paul Miller says:

      Mexico has only lost 11 times in 45 years at Azteca, and that includes friendlies, qualifiers, World Cup matches… everything. Twice it has been to Brazil. This last August, our B team handed their B team the 11th loss. The last time to win a qualifier there was Costa Rica, 12 years ago.

  21. KP1935 says:

    People need to get off the jock of Seattle, it ain’t gonna happen until they get real grass. I see KC getting this game, need to start the home slate with a win against a good CR team.

  22. Kevin says:

    Looking past Costa Rica to get ready for Mexico is moronic. Losing away to Mexico is to be expected; losing against Costa Rica at home will be disastrous.