Columbus Crew’s Lower.com Field is set to host its first international game just three months after the stadium opened its gates. The U.S. Men’s National Team will come to Columbus on Oct. 13 to take on Costa Rica in a huge World Cup Qualifying game. It will be the sixth-straight time Columbus will host a qualifier, just at a different venue, the most of any city.
“It’s a new stadium and we get a chance to create a new chapter,” said USMNT general manager Brian McBride in a virtual press conference with local media members on Thursday.
What Crew fans did not want to hear is that FC Cincinnati is set to host the rivalry game against Mexico at TQL Stadium on Nov. 12. Columbus has been the usual host to that match in recent World Cup Qualifiers, with “Dos a Cero” becoming a staple after four games held at historic Crew Stadium to that scoreline.
McBride, a former Crew and USMNT star, says he does not consider the game is being “moved” to Cincinnati. It just was the choice U.S. Soccer Federation went with after much deliberation.
“It really is about making sure that we provide the best solutions for our players,” McBride said.
The U.S. general manager emphasized the importance of the match against Costa Rica and putting it a historic USMNT city such as Columbus. It will be the team’s third home match of the qualifying campaign, and the end of a run of three games in eight days for the squad. The first will be played against Jamaica on Oct. 7 in Austin, Texas and the second will be against Panama on Oct. 10 in Panama City. Costa Rica holds an advantage over the U.S. in World Cup Qualifying matches historically with an 11-5-2 record.
“The fact that Columbus was always going to be a place that was on the top of the list for us to play home games shouldn’t take away the fact that, maybe it’s not Mexico, because Costa Rica is a very important game for us also,” McBride said.
The USMNT had a lot of factors to consider when looking for stadiums in which to play World Cup Qualifying matches. Things such as weather, distance, training facilities and crowd loyalty all came into play. The addition of Lower.com Field to the city of Columbus, as well as the new training facility, definitely contributed to the national team’s decision.
For McBride, the roof on Lower.com Field is an incredibly positive addition for the country. It increases crowd noise and completely changes the environment for players. Anyone who has attended one of the early matches at Lower.com Field can attest what an atmosphere it makes.
Former Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter attended the first match at the Crew’s new stadium and came back with high reviews, according to McBride.
“Knowing the history that Columbus has, the support we always get, certainly weighed heavily on the decision,” McBride said.
Another major part of the decision was whether any given stadium will get a pro-American crowd, something the federation knows it will get in the city of Columbus.
With two major national team games coming to Ohio, there is no doubt that the fans in this state are passionate and all-in on the USMNT. The two new stadiums and the support fans of both clubs have shown that for the national team makes, it a great state to come to for the country.
“I think you can’t deny the fact that we’ve put two very important qualifiers in the state of Ohio,” said McBride. “But it also has so much more to do with it. I wouldn’t want to single it out as the capital of soccer in this country, but certainly Ohioans have shown that they have great support and they can fill out stadiums, so we’re excited for that.”