We will start with the U.S. women’s national soccer team because they have another friendly Tuesday night against Germany at Rentschler Field, home of the University of Connecticut football team. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. Ticket sales have surpassed 17,000, continuing a series of excellent turnouts for the gold medal tour:
Sept. 1: 8-0 victory vs. Costa Rica, 13,208 in Rochester, N.Y. (sellout)
Sept. 16: 2-1 victory vs. Australia, 19,851 in Carson, Calif.
Sept. 19: 6-1 victory vs. Australia, 19,589 in Commerce City, Colo. (sellout)
Oct. 20: 1-1 draw with Germany, 19,522 in Bridgeview, Ill. (sellout)
After Tuesday, the Americans will play Ireland in Portland, Ore., on Nov. 28 and Glendale, Ariz., on Dec. 1, leaving three matches for the USSF to finalize. The plan, I’m told, is for China to serve as the opponent in all three. The dates and venues have not been finalized, but all would occur in December, requiring warm or moderate climates.
Now, for the men…..
As you know, CONCACAF will determine the World Cup hexagonal schedule with a draw in the coming weeks. The match dates are set and the unspecified pairings are in place. It’s just a matter of drawing teams into the six designations, 1-6. (Teams are not seeded.) So for example, team #3 will play at home against team #5 on a certain date. That part is done. We just don’t yet know who is #3 and who is #5. The one number to avoid? No. 6, which would require going on the road for the first two matches.
As a reminder, the match dates are:
Feb. 6 (one game per team)
March 22-26 (two games)
June 7-18 (three games)
Sept. 6-10 (two games)
Oct. 11-15 (two games)
Because Mexico will compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil on June 15-30, El Tri will have the flexibility to move its third qualifier in June. A similar option was afforded to the United States before the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa. (The Americans played qualifiers on June 3 and 6; the others played on June 6 and 10.)
Once the pairings are set, the USSF will begin the venue selection process for the five home matches. Expect MLS stadiums in Columbus, Kansas City and Salt Lake City to be among the top contenders. Don’t rule out Seattle, MLS’s attendance leader by a wide margin. (It would require grass installed over the artificial turf.) Also, the federation has taken a liking to non-traditional, but fiercely American settings in Nashville, Tampa and Jacksonville. RFK Stadium could re-enter the discussion.
A major consideration is maximizing home advantage. And with several Latin American opponents in the hexagonal, the USSF is not going to arrange, for instance, a qualifier against Mexico in Houston or Jamaica in Florida or New York. The federation must choose carefully with Honduras as well. There is more flexibility with Panama and Costa Rica.
F Charlie Davies 6 minutes in Randers’ 1-1 draw at Aarhus
F Aron Johannsson 80 for Aarhus
MF Brian Span not in 18 for Djurgarden’s 3-0 victory over GAIS
D Michael Parkhurst and Nordsjaelland vs. Juventus (UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m. ET, foxsoccer2go.com)
D Tim Ream and Bolton at Wolves
D Zak Whitbread and Leicester City vs. Brighton
D Seb Hines and Middlesbrough vs. Hull City
MF Will Packwood and Birmingham at Millwall