On top of Sunday reports that a Sept. 10 World Cup qualifier was bound for Columbus, SI.com’s Grant Wahl says today that Salt Lake City, Kansas City and Seattle are also leaders for coming matches in the final round of regional play.
Citing an unnamed source, here is how Wahl says things might break:
The first U.S. final round World Cup qualifier at home is set for Denver (March 22 against Costa Rica.)
Let’s discuss the others (as we hope that U.S. Soccer gets these things singed and sealed so we can all move on):
- If CenturyLink Field in Seattle is indeed awarded a match, that indicates a significant shift in U.S. Soccer thinking. Previously, the federation seemed dead-set against the idea of a home match on artificial turf (or on one of the notoriously sketchy temporary grass fields covering the fake stuff.)
- Salt Lake City has served the purpose quite well over the last two qualifying cycles, with important wins at Rice-Eccles Stadium en route to Germany 2006 and at Rio Tinto Stadium on the road to South Africa 2010. Both matches were well-attended.
- Mexico at Crew Stadium? Yup. Hits the perfect note.
- The United States is likely to need a result down the wire, so Sporting Park in Kansas City as the venue to face Jamaica would be a great choice. The Americans have positive, recently created memories of the place. They went into Kansas City last fall knowing they quite possibly needed a win or draw against Guatemala and got one fairly easily – after an early Guatemalan goal, that is. The United States punched its ticket into the final round of qualifying that night.