JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Getting a game that counts has always been on the “to do” list for the city of Jacksonville when it comes to USA Soccer and that will happen for the first time in 2016. Mayor Lenny Curry and sports executives from the Jaguars, the Armada and SMG made the announcement Tuesday morning.
"It's official," Curry joked at the news conference, knowing that News4Jax and other media reported the match Monday night.
"Sports transcends itself because it brings people from all parts of Jacksonville together," Curry added. "It puts us on the map nationally, as well as internationally."
As part of the World Cup qualifying, Jacksonville will host the game on Sept. 6 between the USA and Trinidad and Tobago. It’s the final game of semi-final qualifying and could have huge implications regarding who has a chance to play at the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Ticket information was expected to be announced in the coming days.
In their last two appearances in “friendlies” at the stadium Team USA has attracted over 44,000 against Scotland in 2012 and over 52,000 vs. Nigeria two years later. One of the roadblocks to hosting an official qualifier is the distance from the corners of the pitch to the stands, not enough to satisfy international soccer specifications.
For the first time in more than 30 years, USA lost to Guatemala last week 2-0 to put the red, white and blue’s chances to qualify at risk. They’ll have a chance to get back on track in the second game of that match Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio.
A rich soccer history, dating back to the Tea Men of the NASL in the early 80’s has allowed Jacksonville to host Team USA as a training base in the ‘90’s, recent friendlies and the return of the NASL with the Armada last year.