Rio Tinto Stadium

Are the U.S. home venues set for World Cup qualifying?


On top of Sunday reports that a Sept. 10 World Cup qualifier was bound for Columbus,’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.

(MORE: U.S.-Mexico bound for Columbus once again)

  • 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.

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS playoff scenarios ]

Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.