I love U.S. Soccer’s venue choice for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.
U.S. Socccer announced yesterday that the September qualifier against Jamaica will play out at Crew Stadium, what I’ve called previously the “meat and potatoes” of U.S. soccer grounds.
No ornamentation. No fancy-schmancy. Just four sets of nuts-and-bolts stands around a good field. Perfect! It’s a place that embodies the simple, no-frills, lunch pail approach that once marked the U.S. program.
Plus, what Crew Stadium does offer is history – something still is relatively short supply in matters of domestic soccer.
Consider the following:
- The United States is 5-0-3 there. That’s the kind of history that players can lean on. As in: “We don’t lose when we play in Columbus.”
- Crew Stadium is the historic site of two landmark U.S. qualifying triumphs. Remember the so-called Guerra Fria (Cold War)? That was the Mexican media’s moniker on February 2001 triumph on a bitterly cold Ohio night. (I could barely type my story, no kidding at all.) That 2-0 win over El Tri provided a brilliant launching pad for the final drive toward World Cup 2002.
- Conditions were less polar bear friendly four years later on a brilliant fall day of 2005, when goals at Crew Stadium by Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley helped the United States officially clinch its berth for World Cup 2006.
- Jamaica, typically stocked with talented players, qualified for the 1998 World Cup. So the Raggae Boyz probably represent the most substantial U.S. obstacle in the semifinal round. This one needed to be picked wisely, based on performance factors rather than economic ones. (Larger venues = better profit, so money was perhaps left on the table here, and prudently so.)
- The match falls on Sept. 11. What better place to recognize national history, sad and notorious as the date is, than playing near the heartland, at a site with a growing legacy of U.S. Soccer history?
It isn’t Dortmund, but that’s a good thing for Liverpool.
Our own Joe Prince-Wright was on the scene for Jurgen Klopp’s unveiling as the latest Reds manager, and the 48-year-old German had a lot to say.
Perhaps most poignant for Liverpool fans are Klopp’s words on the talent he inherits from Brendan Rodgers. Sure there are quips that will hit the headlines, but how about Klopp’s assertion that success shouldn’t take nearly as long as his dramatic work at BVB.
From JPW on Merseyside:
“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.”
Everything. A powerful word and one that doesn’t get lost in translation. Liverpool has a batch of world class talent, and Klopp’s is anxious to organize it in world class fashion. Strap in, Anfield.
So here we go: the biggest rivalry in U.S. Soccer, the one that sends fans racing for the stadia for a glimpse of history.
It’s the U.S. and Mexico for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and it will play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
National pride is on the line, and national jobs may rightly be in jeopardy. Let’s swing through our coverage, and what’s at stake in just over 24 hours time.
Who is the key to Saturday’s match? Is it Michael Bradley? Fabian Johnson? Andres Guardado? Will Klinsmann opt for players with Liga MX experience, stay Euro Heavy, or appease the domestic set? Read more here.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up? JPW has his preference, some options, and a prediction of what the manager will do.
What are the chances this one finds its way into the upper echelon of matches in the Mexico/U.S. rivalry? This is the company it could join.
The folks in the anti-Klinsmann brigade seethe with pure detestation of the USMNT boss. Any quote from him is self-serving and dishonest, any success accidental. Beat Germany or the Netherlands in friendlies on the road? Coincidental and Unimportant. Lose a friendly to Brazil? The worst thing ever.
[ MORE: The case for firing Klinsmann after a loss ]
So this match, being meaningful and testing his unbeaten mark vs Mexico, is going to be a clarion call for U.S. Soccer fans. Barring a cataclysmic loss in horrific blowout fashion, he won’t be canned. But a win will be validation for his supporters while a loss would cue a genuine hot seat. And for his detractors, already foaming at the mouth from the words of icon Landon Donovan? Kablammo.