Is Gold Cup 2009 an audition for World Cup 2018?
Obviously the United States has hosted the Gold Cup regularly but never have more than six venues in the nation hosted Gold Cup matches in the same tournament. For 2009 however, the US will have 13 different venues hosting matches in the championship of the CONCACAF region.
Jack Warner, the ethically challenged President of CONCACAF announced last year that he wanted the US to only bid on the 2022 World Cup after England’s FA agreed to buy off Warner by having a friendly vs Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain. But the bottom line is not all of UEFA is behind England’s bid, and the US has more World Cup ready stadiums already built.
Another issue which FIFA must consider with regards to England is the number of stadiums that will probably be used with narrow pitches, something that may favor the Three Lions style of Football but constricts competition, and the ability of managers to use flank play effectively.
South Africa 2010 provides an opportunity for England to become the first European nation ever to win a World Cup outside Europe because the climate and pitch sizes match England’s zone of comfort. But after a World Cup in facilities that were largely not designed for Football, will FIFA want to have a World Cup so soon thereafter held largely in facilities that only favor a certain type of football?
By utilizing so many facilities for a Continental Championship, the United States will demonstrate this summer how efficient our stadiums are, how effective our infrastructure is to quickly move national sides around the country, and how football mad certain ethnic communities are in this nation.
Previous Gold Cups held on American soil have often had limited venues and little travel between games. By having so many different first round venues this go round, the USSF can clearly demonstrate to FIFA the depth of potential venues for World Cup action the United States has
The venues for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup are as follows:
3 July – The Home Depot Center (Los Angeles)
4 July – Qwest Field (Seattle)
5 July – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland)
7 July – Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
8 July – Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington)
9 July – Reliant Stadium (Houston)
10 July – Florida International University Stadium (Miami)
11 July – Gillette Stadium (Boston)
12 July – University of Phoenix Stadium (Phoenix)
18 July – Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
19 July – Dallas Cowboys New Stadium (Dallas)
23 July – Soldier Field (Chicago)
26 July – Giants Stadium (New York)
The majority of these stadiums have been built or substantially renovated since the US last hosted the World Cup in 1994. While some are on the smallish side capacity wise, each of the newer stadiums were built with football in mind, allowing for large pitch sizes and often times the best possible site lines for the game.
While many football fans look down on the CONCACAF Gold Cup as an event, it could be an important dry run from FIFA’s perspective for World Cup 2018.
(Photo from AP. The US defeated Mexico 2-0 at the brand new University of Phoenix Stadium in 2007)