The goal of earning three points in a World Cup qualifying match means fans can expect a game filled with intense moments, thrilling highs and dizzying lows, all for the chance to book a trip to Brazil in 2014. It takes months of preparation and training to turn in an all-out effort for 90 minutes of World Cup qualifying. However, if your task is to sell every single ticket to the game, ensuring a packed house and an electric atmosphere for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s first home World Cup qualifier, well that can be accomplished in under an hour.
Sixty minutes was all it took to sell out the 18,086 seats at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park that will be filled with screaming U.S. fans as the MNT takes the pitch for its first home World Cup qualifier in the final round, against Costa Rica on Friday. And with a trip to Mexico and the ever-challenging Estadio Azteca looming four days later, a boisterous home crowd will be a welcome setting for the MNT.
“It’s always important playing at home. We usually get a great turnout, the fans come out in numbers to support us and we always want to do well in front of our home crowd,” MNT veteran midfielder Maurice Edu said. “In saying that, we realize the importance of playing at home, too, because when you go away to different countries, it’s never an easy task. Just as much as our fans support us here and make us feel really welcome and make it a difficult environment for a foreign team to come in and play, it’s the same thing when we go abroad. On and off the pitch you never know what to expect. Three points at home is crucial and can play a key role later on in the process.”
Home results have played a key role for qualification in recent years. The MNT currently holds an all-time record of 41-6-12 in World Cup qualifiers played at home and went a perfect 3-0-0 in home qualifiers during the semifinal round of this cycle. One constant has remained through all the positive results seen on American soil – a roaring crowd making life as difficult as possible for any opponent with hopes of handing the U.S. a rare home loss.
As incredible as the atmosphere always is for games played within the comfortable confines of home stadiums, the U.S. always gets the chance to see how its opponents feel when it’s the MNT’s turn to wear the visiting colors.
“You go to some of these countries in Central America and you don’t know what to expect,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “You can’t prepare for everything you’re going to face and you have to be able to adapt to your surroundings and so for us you don’t know what you’re going to face on the road.”
The challenges and uncertainties that always exist within hexagonal road fixtures make taking every possible point at home that much more crucial, and having an electric atmosphere that much more important. However, given the history and the current circumstances there’s no doubt that the packed house at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will be on fire for 90 minutes, especially considering they bought out every ticket to the game in less than 60.