The road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil goes through Kansas City, at least in part, for the U.S. men’s national soccer team.
U.S. Soccer and Sporting Club announced Monday that the team will play Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier at 6 p.m. Oct. 16 at Livestrong Sporting Park.
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“Obviously, it’s huge, and it’s the reason we built Livestrong Sporting Park the way we did — to try to attract the top events in the world,” Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said. “There is not a bigger event than a U.S. men’s national team game in this country, especially one that is part of World Cup qualifying.”
The U.S.-Guatemala game will be the final match in the semifinal round of qualifying.
“We are very excited to play such an important World Cup qualifier in Kansas City,” U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement. “They have an amazing new facility in Livestrong Sporting Park, and the fans have really demonstrated incredible support for soccer in the area. We expect it’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere.”
Assuming that is the case, Livestrong Sporting Park, where the U.S. men played a Gold Cup qualifying match last year, could be in line for additional World Cup qualifying matches when the final round begins in 2013.
“We’ve got a very good relationship with U.S. Soccer and I think they have great respect for Livestrong Sporting Park and what it can do for the national team,” Heineman said. “The fans will be fantastic and we hope this game sets a precedent for future games to be played here.”
The dream, of course, remains for Livestrong Sporting Park to host a battle between the United States and its fiercest rival, Mexico.
“I think this is a good audition for the U.S.-Mexico game,” Heineman said. “Meaningful games for our national team should be played at Livestrong Sporting Park. That is how we feel about it, and we’re anxious to prove that is the case.”
The game will be televised on ESPN2 and TeleFutura. Ticket information will be announced at a later date.
Semifinal qualifying competition for the U.S. team begins Friday against Antigua & Barbados in Tampa, Fla. The U.S. team then plays June 23 in Guatemala City.
The U.S. team is 12-4-5 against Guatemala and currently owns an eight-match shutout streak.
“It’s a huge compliment for the organization,” said Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes, who played in the 1990 World Cup. “As a manager of the national team, you’re only going to put games in venues that you feel you would have a home-field advantage, and it’s going to be a great stadium for them to use.”