The standing room-only section at Orlando City Stadium. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
Orlando will host the United States-Panama World Cup qualifying match Oct. 6.
The game could very well be the clinching result for the Americans, who seek their eighth consecutive World Cup berth. Kickoff time is still to be determined.
This qualifier is the last home match of the CONCACAF hexagonal and could be the date on which the U.S. advances to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In fourth place after four matches, the home leg against Panama falls on Matchday 9 of the 10-game Hex. The MNT closes out the group at Trinidad & Tobago Oct. 10.
“We’ve been very open about our objectives to bring world-class events to Central Florida with the completion of our new venue and this is a natural evolution of those plans,” Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão said in a statement. “We’ve seen the engagement from our supporters and the impact they have on our MLS and National Women’s Soccer League teams, and we are excited to see the atmosphere and energy they will bring when the U.S. National Team comes to town to play their last home qualifying match of the tournament.”
Orlando City Stadium, which opened in March, will host the game. The venue features an all-natural grass pitch sunken eight feet below street level, offering excellent views from every seat, and the only fully, standing-room only section in the U.S.
“Our club has played an active role in using the influence of our teams to attract worldwide interest in bringing more soccer into this community,” Orlando City SC COO Fred Pollastri said in a press release. “Our fans, and the fortress they’ve created, are helping us achieve these goals starting with this match.”
The USMNT returns to Orlando for the first time since a 1-0 win against Sweden in 1998.
Information regarding ticket availability to the general public will be announced in the near future. Due to the anticipated high demand for and limited supply of tickets to the match, U.S. Soccer will use a lottery system to allocate tickets among those who apply. The process will ensure that those interested have a fair opportunity to attend the game.
Last week Sports Illustrated writer and FOX journalist Grant Wahl reported that U.S. Soccer was planning on naming Orlando as the host city for the Oct. 6 encounter. He also reported that the federation was making plans for Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. to hold a World Cup qualifier Sept. 1. The U.S. national team is slated to play Costa Rica on that date. No announcement by U.S. Soccer has been made regarding the Sept. 1 qualifier.