Rio Tinto Stadium won’t get a World Cup Qualifying match in March after all.
U.S. Soccer on Tuesday announced the March 22 Men’s National Team match against Costa Rica will be played in Denver. Salt Lake City and Kansas City had been reported as the other possibilities for the site.
Among the biggest factors in the decision: altitude. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann wanted a match at elevation before his team plays Mexico, and he will certainly get one in Denver. Salt Lake City is some 800 feet lower than Denver and some 3,200 feet lower than Mexico City, where the U.S. will play at Estadio Azteca on March 26.
RSL president Bill Manning had this to say about the decision: "I’m happy the game is in an MLS stadium. Of course we would have liked to host the game at Rio Tinto Stadium, but they will do a great job at DSG and I imagine altitude was a key factor in the decision since they are higher up even than us. I spoke with U.S. Soccer and hopefully we will have an opportunity to host one of the other hexagonal games. The biggest thing is winning and advancing and less so about where they play. That’s what we all need to rally around."
The national team, including Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran, is currently training in Los Angeles. The U.S. opens the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on Feb. 6 against Honduras.
— Aaron Falk
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