Posts Tagged ‘Soccertown USA’

The USMNT Is Going To Play Where?

Back in August, TSG explored the idea of creating “Soccertown USA” — one city where the USMNT would play all of its games. In that piece the following was noted:

Since the beginning of 2006 the USMNT has played games in 19 cities —San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Cary (NC), Nashville, Cleveland, E. Hartford, Phoenix, Tampa, San Jose, Boston, Chicago (2 locations), Houston, NYC, Washington (DC), Columbus, Seattle and Salt Lake City (9/5).

The USMNT travels back to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay for the first time since 2007 to face El Salvador in February.

Looking at these locations and the relevancy of the games — friendly, World Cup qualifier, Gold Cup — there did not seem to be much rhyme or reason to where the games were placed by US Soccer. In fact, we likened the USMNT to a traveling circus due to their seemingly random movement throughout the country.

Though TSG never thought the US Soccer Federation actually threw darts at  a map of the United States as their method of selection, little explanation has been offered behind match site decisions. Thankfully, the USSF offered some insight into their due diligence and decision-making process during TSG’s trip to training camp last week.

The guiding principle for stadium selection by USSF is to put the game in a place where US Soccer has “the best chance to be successful.” Based on some of the selection criteria below, the definition of “successful” is likely some combination of team performance on the pitch, financial success and the potential to reach and reinforce a growing fanbase, though US Soccer didn’t specifically elaborate on its definition.

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Soccer in American: Creating Soccertown, USA (Part 2)

Soccertown Poll

There was some great feedback on the Soccer in America: Creating Soccertown, USA via the comments section, the poll and a blog post over at Soccer Soap Box.

The short story is that the vast majority of fans agreed that games should not continue to move around as much, but most were not enamored with the four cities I proposed (or even a “one city solution”).

Surprisingly (to me), Chicago was the “winner.” And the remaining cities (including “Other”) shook out like this:

Seattle  (20 votes), Denver (14), Columbus (12), Houston (10), New York (8),  Los Angeles (7), St. Louis (6), and then 14 other cities with 4 votes or less.

I’d be great to get some insight on all the love for Chicago. (Is it that much of a soccer town?) It is the headquarters of the US Soccer organization, but I don’t know what impact that really has on players (given they don’t train there).

Seattle is a strong contender given its support of MLS, but I’d like to see if that level of support is sustained beyond the inaugural season.

Meanwhile, in Bob’s post at Soccer Soap Box he talks about the buzz created when a USMNT match is played in your city. Buzz is great, but building fan support that shows up and creates a home field advantage should take precedence.

It is clear that there are passionate fans around the country, so perhaps a “one city solution” is a bit too restrictive geographically. However, US Soccer is doing the players on the pitch a disservice with the current strategy and should proactively focus on a few desirable locations throughout the country.

Soccer in America: Creating Soccertown, USA

Follow-up Post: Creating Soccertown, USA Part 2

What would it mean to US Men’s National Team to have an atmosphere at home like Wembley or Azteca or even Saprissa?

For the USMNT, playing on American soil doesn’t mean a stadium full of supporters. All too frequently it means that the crowds will be just less hostile than if the game was played on the home turf of their opponent. Although not surprising, it is a shame. The reasons for the home field disadvantage are many and well known, so I won’t go into those. The more important question is what can be done?

We need more of this...a lot more.

We need more of this...a lot more.

One could take the “rising tide lifts all boats” approach and assume that as soccer continues to gain momentum in the US more American fans will flood the stadiums on game day for the USMNT. However, the tide is rising steadily, but not fast. Another approach could be to creatively “direct” to whom tickets go by requiring multiple game purchases (like some NFL teams do). That wouldn’t work as US Soccer would take a hit politically as well as in wallet as attendance could potentially plummet.

I like an all-together different approach—stop moving games around. Develop the fan base in one city and designate the two stadiums in that city (the 70,000+ NFL stadium and the 18,000+ MLS stadium) as US Soccer National Stadiums. I know many of the soccer super-powers move the game around (including Brazil, Germany, Spain and Italy) but soccer is the national sport in those countries and geographically they aren’t nearly as vast as the US.

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