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Commerce City gets a qualifier

January 15, 2013 | 7:36 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Colorado finally registered as more than a blip on the global soccer radar with the announcement that Dick’s Sporting Goods Park would host a final round qualifying game for the 2014 World Cup.

The U.S. Men’s National Team will host Costa Rica in the hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying on March 22. The U.S. meets the Ticos on a field that is likely to be frigid in a game that the home team must win to see its hopes of advancing to Brazil come true.

Tuesday’s announcement from the United States Soccer Federation was greated as a footy god-send for Colorado fans starved for top notch action. It was also a reward to fans for getting out and supporting a professional team that went nowhere in 2012 and is in year two of its quest for a playing identity.

“We are really excited to play our first home qualifying match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Winning games at home in World Cup Qualifying is crucial, and we really are expecting the fans in Colorado to bring us a huge home-field advantage.”

Tim Hinchey, president of the Rapids, welcomed the 8 p.m. match a little more than two months from now.

“Everyone at the Rapids, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is eager to welcome the U.S. Men’s National Team back to Colorado for such an important match,” Hinchey said. “We’re thrilled that our fans will have the opportunity to attend this game, and similarly excited for the U.S. to play in front of such passionate and dedicated supporters.”

The match will be broadcast live on ESPN, WatchESPN and on the Univision family of networks. Fans can also follow live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.

The match against Costa Rica comes as part of a double-fixture date. Four days later, the U.S. travels to face regional rival Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. This will be the first meeting between the teams since the USA’s historic 1-0 win in that stadium last summer.

This is the second World Cup Qualifier hosted at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. In 2008, the U.S. gave six players their first cap in qualifying while cruising to a 2-0 win against Guatemala to secure the top spot in its group in the Semifinal Round.

The U.S. MNT is currently training at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in preparation for the first match of 2013, a friendly against Canada on Jan. 29 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

The U.S. opens the Final Round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on Feb. 6 against Honduras in San Pedro Sula. The match kicks off at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast live on beIN SPORT. Fans can also follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.

Along with Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico, the U.S. is joined by Jamaica and Panama as the final six teams set to compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 6-Oct. 15. The top three teams in the Hexagonal automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place finisher will contest a two-game playoff against the winner of the Oceania region.

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