The list of the 2011 Gold Cup sites was unveiled yesterday and there were two story lines coming out of the announcement: the number of venues that would be hosting their first Gold Cup matches and the number of cities that were inexplicably left off the list.
As a reminder or, if you are new to the sport, an explanation, the Gold Cup is the tournament where in 2011 the winner advances to the 2013 Confederations Cup. It does not impact World Cup qualifying directly. What a win in the 2011 Gold Cup does do is allow a team a series of matches against other federation champs in a World Cup-style format. The United States used a great Confederations Cup run in 2009 (we beat Spain!) to create positive momentum for the 2010 World Cup.
The first round takes place June 5-14, and some of the venues are no-brainers to be on the list. The Dallas Cowboys’ mammoth stadium will host the first match on June 5, and repeat hosts include Soldier Field (Chicago) and the Home Depot Center (Carson City). The other four new hosts are Ford Field (Detroit), Raymond James Stadium (Tampa), KC Soccer Stadium (Kansas City), and Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte). While Detroit and Tampa are huge media markets that make sense for international soccer, CONCACAF seems to be looking to build the culture in Charlotte and Kansas City, and I will be curious to see the crowds for the matches.
The quarterfinals will be held June 18 at the New Meadowlands Stadium and June 19 at RFK Stadium (Washington DC). The semifinal matches will be held in Houston on June 22 and the final held in the Rose Bowl on June 25. None of these sites are a surprise except for maybe Houston having the semifinal over the New Meadowlands.
What is a surprise may be the cities left out of this list. Philadelphia and Foxborough, MA on the East Coast both have MLS teams but failed to get the nod. Columbus, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Jose are other MLS metropolitan areas that were not selected. But the biggest shaft may have been the West Coast, which has two hosts both in California, and none in the Pacific Northwest. Sounders fans will miss out on the opportunity to see Gold Cup matches next year.
The total list of sites is after the break, but what are your thoughts on which cities were selected and which were left off? Should the West Coast or the Rockies gotten more matches?
2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Schedule and Venues
June 5 – Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX)
June 6 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, CA)
June 7 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)
June 9 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
June 10 – FIU Stadium (Miami, FL)
June 11 – Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL)
June 12 – Soldier Field (Chicago, IL)
June 13 – Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
June 14 – KC Soccer Stadium (Kansas City, KS)
June 18 – New Meadowlands Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)
June 19 – Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (Washington DC)
June 22 – Reliant Stadium (Houston, TX)
June 25 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)