The first home game of the CONCACAF hex will be played at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, where the altitude will help prepare the USA for its trip to Estadio Azteca four days later.The nearly mile-high altitude of Commerce City, Colo., will be the setting for the U.S. men's national team's first home game of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying hexagonal.
The U.S. men will host Costa Rica March 22 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the second game of the hex and the first of five on U.S. soil, U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday. Four days later, the USA will play Mexico at the vaunted Estadio Azteca, and U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann is hoping that the tune-up at the home of MLS' Colorado Rapids not only gives the USA a solid advantage over Los Ticos but also serves as preparation for the anticipated battle at high altitude with El Tri.
"We are really excited to play our first home qualifying match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park," Klinsmann said in a U.S. Soccer statement. "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."
It had previously been reported by Sports Illustrated that Salt Lake City's Rio Tinto Stadium and Kansas City's Livestrong Sporting Park were the other potential host venues taken into consideration for the match. The game will come six weeks after the USA opens the final qualifying round at Honduras, with their date in San Pedro Sula set for Feb. 6.
The U.S. men will play a warm-up friendly for that match against Canada on Jan. 29 at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium in the culmination to the January training camp that is currently being held in California. In order for the USA to qualify for the World Cup, it needs to finish in the top three of the six-team CONCACAF hexagonal standings. A fourth-place finish would put the USA into a playoff with the winner of the Oceania region for a final berth in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.