Livestrong Sporting Park was good to U.S. Soccer once before, so officials are returning anew to the Livestrong well.
U.S. Soccer just announced that its Oct. 16 qualifier against Guatemala will be held on the outskirts of Kansas City.
That night’s contest (6 p.m. CT, on ESPN2) will be the final U.S. match of semifinal round qualifying.
The new ground had barely been open when the United States showed up last summer (June 14) to meet Guadeloupe in the 2011 Gold Cup first-round finale. The United States got the win that day (1-0) and advanced into Gold Cup knockout stages.
Getting into smaller venues like this one is absolutely the right call for U.S. Soccer. Playing at grounds of 20,000 or so allows U.S. Soccer to more closely control ticket sales, which makes it harder for the passionate opposition supporters to get their hands on tickets (and thereby mitigate the U.S. home field advantage).
Plus, it’s an appreciable reward for communities (and owners) who develop these grounds. And atmosphere-wise, it’s an absolute home run. Livestrong will be bursting – unless the United States has passage into the final round sown up by then, which it very well may. Even then, it will be a good atmosphere.