I simply hate that US Soccer has given the Trinidad qualifier to Nashville. The stadium is far too large (69k) and this reeks of yet another misguided attempt to grow the game in the deep south. If they manage to draw over 15,000, I’ll be absolutely stunned.
I am so sick of both MLS and US Soccer trying in vain to grow the sport in places like Tennessee and Alabama by playing qualifiers there or God forbid, putting expansion teams there. I guarantee you, no matter how hard we try, soccer will never approach anywhere near the mainstream acceptance in the deep south that it already has elsewhere like the Northeast, California, and Chicago just to name some.
I should say that I don’t include Texas (behaves like its own republic), Florida (behaves like its own banana republic), or North Carolina (Northern and Latino interlopers changing face of the state enormously quickly) in this rant. If this match were in Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, or Charlotte, I’d be perfectly fine with it.
Maybe US Soccer wants to put matches closer to the big market of Atlanta. That is a sensible enough thought, but if Atlanta really cared that much about soccer, than one of its stadiums such as the Georgia Dome, Bobby Dodd Stadium or Sanford Stadium would make the changes necessary to host the occasional soccer match there. The fact that there isn’t an acceptable place to play in Atlanta is an indication that the interest simply isn’t there.
And before you go screaming off about how I am saying that “soccer cannot work in ‘red states’ because they’re all ignorant hillbillies,” let me remind you of some places where I really want to see US matches (qualifiers or friendlies).
- Salt Lake – If they don’t host a qualifier in the Hex, Sunil should have his head examined
- St. Louis – Not yet ready for an MLS team , but I suspect they’d get pretty excited for a single match maybe in a temporarily grass-covered EJ Dome.
- Omaha – They have a new, spotless 6,000-seat soccer stadium at Creighton that, with some added bleachers, would be a great venue for a friendly.
There are plenty of real growth markets out there for US Soccer to explore by placing friendlies or other USMNT matches. I still do not think the south is one of them. Are there passionate soccer fans in the south? Sure, but there aren’t nearly enough of them to deserve one of US Soccer’s most important matches.
Southern soccer fans, feel free to flame away.