Hinchey aims to host more international soccer events, including Hexagonal
Commerce City, Colo. - In late September, a standing-room only sold out crowd of 18,589 electrified Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the U.S. Women's National Team friendly against Australia.
Today, Rapids President Tim Hinchey is hoping the tremendous support displayed that night will help sway U.S. Soccer to return to Commerce City next year for U.S. Men's World Cup Qualifier.
"We very much want to continue to be part of the national soccer scene," Hinchey told ColoradoRaipds.com. "We have reached out to U.S. Soccer to let them know we would want to be considered as an option to host one of the Hexagonal matches next year."
On Wednesday CONCACAF held the draw for the final round of World Cup Qualifying, more commonly referred to as the Hexagonal. The 10-game stage will take place from February 6 through October 15, 2013, with each of the six countries playing five matches in their home country and five away.
The U.S. home matches will be against Costa Rica on March 22, Panama on June 11, Honduras on June 18, Mexico on September 10 and Jamaica on October 11. The top three teams atop the standings after the round-robin phase will automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The team that finishes in fourth will face the winner of the Oceania region in a two-leg playoff for another berth.
“There’s more than five sites," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati told USSoccer.com following the draw. "We met at length today and a lot of work has gone into figuring out what venues we’re going to play in. Now over the next couple days we’ll probably send out the first couple. There’s probably a group of 10-12 venues that will be in the mix.”
Dick's Sporting Goods Park was one of eight venues that hosted USMNT matches during the 2010 World Cup cycle. The U.S. defeated Guatemala 2-0 on November 19, 2008 in the final match of the Semifinal Round. The U.S. men are 3-1-0 all-time in matches against other national teams in Colorado, including a 1-0 win over Mexico in 2002 and a 1-0 loss to Scotland in 1992.
The continued growth of support for the Colorado Rapids could be a contributing factor since Gulati said that home-field advantage is a criteria he's looking for in host venues. Attendance at Rapids matches increased for a fourth consecutive year in 2012 as the club set a new Dick's Sporting Goods Park record of 15,175 fans per game. The U.S. Women's match was nearly sold out through advanced presales to U.S. Soccer and Colorado Rapids registered fans, resulting in a very pro-American crowd.
"We’re going to raise our hands for all soccer events, be it a U.S. Soccer Federation match or any other top flight international soccer event that comes to the United States," Hinchey added. "We are ideally located, have one of the best complexes in the country, and have fantastic support. And, we're confident we can provide a home-field advantage for U.S. Soccer."