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U.S. soccer leans on MLS hospitality in World Cup qualifying

March 21, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • U.S. national team Coach Juergen Klinsmann speaks to his players during a training session last year.
U.S. national team Coach Juergen Klinsmann speaks to his players during… (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty…)

The U.S. national soccer team, which will play the first of its five final-round home games in World Cup qualifying Friday in Commerce City, Colo., announced the venues for the remaining four matches Thursday, and all four are Major League Soccer stadiums.

"Winning your games at home is crucial and we know that at each of these stadiums we will get amazing support from the fans," U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "There are so many great facilities in this country and to be able to play in this many soccer-specific stadiums in MLS cities shows how far this sport has come."

The Pacific Northwest will play host to one game, while the Midwest gets three. Left out entirely was the East Coast, the South and California.

On June 11, the U.S.  will play Panama at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, the largest of the five venues in which the Americans will play and the regular-season home of the MLS' Seattle Sounders. CenturyLink, which is also the home of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, is the only World Cup qualifying site that is not a soccer-specific venue.

Seattle, which last had a World Cup qualifier in 1976, regularly leads the MLS in attendance.  A week after the game at CenturyLink, the U.S. will take on Honduras -- a 2-1 winner over the U.S. in San Pedro Sula, Honduras last month -- at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Real Salt Lake plays its MLS games at Rio Tinto.

On Sept. 10 the U.S. will meet Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, before closing out the home portion of World Cup qualifying at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Oct. 11.

The U.S. has not lost at Columbus Crew Stadium, going 6-0-3 all-time and 5-0-2 in World Cup qualifying -- including three consecutive 2-0 wins over Mexico.

Sporting Park is home to MLS' Sporting Kansas City. It also played host to the U.S. national team's must-win game against Guatemala last October that propelled the Americans into the Hexagonal round of qualifying.

Entering Friday's match with Costa Rica, the second of 10 final-round qualifying games, the U.S. is the only team in the six-country group without a point.

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