U.S. Soccer will announce this week where the national team’s first home game in final round World Cup qualifying will be played, according to Grant Wahl.
The veteran soccer writer from Sports Illustrated, also working these days as part of the Fox Soccer Channel staff, said a “high-ranking U.S. Soccer source” revealed to him the venue for a March 22 contest against Costa Rica is down to three finalists.
The high-stakes match will be played in either Salt Lake City, Denver or Kansas City, according to Wahl.
That will be the United States’ first home match in final round qualifying, which begins Feb. 6 at Honduras. The contest against Costa Rica will be Match Day No. 2 in final stage CONCACAF qualifying.
The United States has enjoyed its time in Salt Lake City before, defeating Costa Rica (same country they face here in March) en route to World Cup 2006 in Germany. That was before a nice crowd of 40,586 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Four years later Bob Bradley’s team won an important match over El Salvador at a packed Rio Tinto Stadium (pictured).
In both cases, national team players and staff talked up their regard for Salt Lake City as a venue.
The team has not been to Colorado since a 2008 win over Guatemala in semifinal round World Cup qualifying. Attendance was hardly great that day at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9,303), but the United States had already booked passage into final round qualifying by that point, so that’s not exactly surprising.
Kansas City is a shoe-in to get at least one match, based on the big support there and the U.S. team success at Livestrong Sporting Park since it opened in suburban Kansas City about 20 months ago.
The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.
The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.
[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]
That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a two-legged play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.
- Czech Republic
- Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)
- Ukraine (qualified for play-off)
- Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)
- Slovenia (qualified for play-off)
- Northern Ireland
- Hungary (qualified for play-off)
- Sweden (qualified for play-off)
- Norway (qualified for play-off)
- Denmark (qualified for play-off)
The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.
Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic
The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.
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Italy 2-1 Norway
Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.
Malta 0-1 Croatia
With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan
Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan