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USMNT Positional Analysis: Center-Backs

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The USMNT CB pool has a lot of depth, but there has been some turnover at the top. The challenge is that there aren’t many players that completely fit what Gregg wants to do. As a pressing team, you need CBs that can cover ground and are comfortable in space if the press gets beaten. As a team that wants to play out of the back you need players that are comfortable with the ball at their feet and can break lines with their passing. Chris Richards probably fits this profile the best, but he not shown a consistent ability to be a John Brooks level distributor. Miles and Walker are great defenders in space, but their distribution can be inconsistent. John Brooks is an excellent distributor, but he struggles in space. 

Going into qualifying, most fans and pundits viewed Brooks as a lock and many saw Walker Zimmerman as a player on the fringes. Those scenarios have swapped. Walker has been our most consistent CB in qualifying and John is struggling to get back in the picture. Gregg will most likely carry four CBs on the World Cup roster and I think there are a couple spots still up for grabs and many candidates that could make a push. 

Look Like Locks

Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

See above. Walker has been mostly fantastic in WCQ. After seeing zero minutes in the first window and being a late addition in the second window, he hasn’t looked back. He brings a strong veteran presence and intensity that the team needs. He’s been fantastic in the air and in cleaning up messes in the box. I believe he’s been our most consistent distributor from the back as well, but the bar has been low and it’s one of the biggest areas for the team to improve upon. If the World Cup started tomorrow, it sure looks like Walker would be your starting RCB. 

WCQ Stats:
870 minutes played
1 goal
7 Long passes per 90, 48.5% accuracy 
15.5 ground duels per 90, 66% success rate
7.7 aerial duels per 90, 67.6% success rate

Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)

It feels like Miles Robinson has been in the USMNT project for years, but in reality, he made his debut last summer at the Gold Cup. He’s been a consistent fixture on the backline since that tournament. Miles is one of the best CBs in the MLS, probably second to only Walker Zimmerman. Most people expected Miles to go to Europe this season, but that hasn’t happened and it now seems more likely he’ll stay at Atlanta through this season, with perhaps an eye towards the January transfer window as a possible timeline for a move. Miles has been a little inconsistent during qualifying. He was poor in Canada and has been prone to some lapses in concentration. Overall I think Miles is the current favorite to start at LCB, but he needs to be more consistent this summer and eliminate some of his mental lapses. 

 

WCQ Stats:
1022 Minutes played
0.55 Expected goals
5.6 Long passes per 90, 61.9% accuracy 
15.4 ground duels per 90, 66.9% success rate
5.9 aerial duels per 90, 68.7% success rate

In The Mix

Chris Richards (Hoffenheim)

Going into WCQ I thought Chris was going to cement his place in the starting XI. He was heading in the right direction before his injury against Canada and then another injury ended his season at Hoffenheim. The goal now is for Chris to get fit ahead of the June set of matches so he can continue to push for a starting position and a place on the squad. 

Chris is the youngest of all the CBs that are in the mix and he plays at the highest level of competition. I think he also has the highest ceiling and fits Gregg’s system the best. I am going to be keeping a close eye on what club he ends up starting the season at. Will he get a chance to play with Bayern? Will he go back to Hoffenheim where he has a ton of respect? Will he try a new challenge? That decision is going to play a big role in how viable of an option he is for Gregg. 

WCQ Stats:

387 Minutes played
0.15 Expected goals
1.86 Long passes per 90, 0% accuracy 
18.6 ground duels per 90, 58.8% success rate
6.05 aerial duels per 90, 50% success rate

Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls)

Aaron Long ruptured his achilles in 2020 and before that there was no more consistent player in Gregg Berhalter lineups. Aaron attended a few camps late last year / early this year and made his WCQ debut in the last window. Aaron is playing very well for NYRB and looks to be in better physical shape than he was before the injury. Aaron my not be one of the top 4 talented CBs in the pool, but he’s experienced, consistent and one of Gregg’s guys, so he’s got a very good chance of making the WC squad. 

WCQ Stats:
44 Minutes played
14.32 Long passes per 90, 28.6% accuracy 
6.14 ground duels per 90, 66.7% success rate
2.05 aerial duels per 90, 100% success rate

Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes)

Erik Palmer-Brown (EPB) has had one of the more positive seasons of any USMNT player during the 2021/2022 European season. Up until this year, EPB has spent the last four seasons on loan from Manchester City and this year he has finally found a permanent home. After a rocky start, he has rattled off 15 starts in a row and has been awarded a permanent transfer to Troyes who still have a good chance to stay up in French’s first division, Ligue 1. As a reward for a strong run of form, EPB was called into the last WCQ camp. Clearly Gregg liked what he had been seeing in France. Erik is kind of like a Chris Richards lite and he fits the system well. He is mobile, strong, two-footed and he is comfortable enough with the ball at his feet. For him, it’s about continuing to string good performances together for Troyes, this year and next, and getting some chances to impress Gregg this summer. 

WCQ Stats:
15 Minutes played
6 Long passes per 90, 0% accuracy 
24 ground duels per 90, 75% success rate

Mark McKenzie (Genk)

Mark was called into every qualifying window except the last one. He didn’t play a ton, but it’s clear that Gregg trusts him and likes what he brings to the group. He’s still very young for a CB as well, only 23. Similarly to Chris Richards and Erik Palmer-Brown, Mark is mobile and is comfortable with both feet which allow him to play as a LCB and a RCB. Mark is definitely still in the mix, but with players like EPB and CCV having strong club seasons, he needs to get consistent minutes at Genk. The signs there are positive, Mark has started the last 3 matches and all have been wins. Mark needs to have a strong summer if called if and when he is called into camps and he needs to take hold of a starting job with Genk early next season if he is going to have a chance.  

WCQ Stats:

196 Minutes played
3.67 Long passes per 90, 50% accuracy 
15.15 ground duels per 90, 57.6% success rate
5.51 aerial duels per 90, 25% success rate

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)

I’m not going to get into the saga between Gregg and JB. Whatever it is, I think John will have a chance to get back in the mix this summer. Like Yedlin, John is the last of the 2014 World Cup team that’s still in the pool. Despite some differing reports, John has had a good season for Wolfsburg, though this will be his last. John will be changing clubs this summer and that move will have an impact on John’s USMNT future. If John and Gregg can work it out, I think John is definitely a top four CB in the USMNT pool and offers ability with the ball at his feet that no other CBs in our pool offer. John’s opportunity with USMNT will be a top news story to keep track of this summer. 

WCQ Stats:

196 Minutes played
3.67 Long passes per 90, 50% accuracy 
15.15 ground duels per 90, 57.6% success rate
5.51 aerial duels per 90, 25% success rate

Tim Ream (Fulham)

Is he actually still in the mix? I kind of don’t think so. He has not been with USMNT since the first window and I think Gregg has moved on, which I think is the right call, but it doesn’t feel right not to write a few words about Tim. He’s got a wealth of experience, he’s left-footed and he can distribute, but I think the next wave of CBs have surpassed him. If we have seen the last of Tim, it’s been a great run for him. 

WCQ Stats:
196 Minutes played
3.67 Long passes per 90, 50% accuracy 
15.15 ground duels per 90, 57.6% success rate
5.51 aerial duels per 90, 25% success rate

Keep an Eye On

Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic)

CCV likely had the best European season of any American CB, but it wasn’t enough to get the attention of Gregg Berhalter. CCV is a bruising CB with some ability on the ball, but he lacks superlative traits and I think that is why he hasn’t been at the top of Gregg’s list. There are a lot of CBs in the mix, so I think it’s going to take some injuries for him to get a look this summer. It will also be interesting to see where he ends up next year. Will Cetlic be able to sign him permanently or will CCV get a chance with a Premier League side not named Tottenham? 

Auston Trusty (Colorado Rapids / Arsenal) 

The biggest thing Auston has going for him is that he is a left-footed center-back, and we don’t have a lot of those. He is heading to Arsenal this summer in what will likely be a similar path as Erik Palmer-Brown and Matt Miazga, or in other words, a loan merchant. If Auston can secure a strong loan and impress, he may have an outside chance to get a look. 

Justin Che (Hoffenheim) 

Justin is the first of two very far-fetched scenarios in the spirit of having a little fun. Justin is a 2003 player who recently moved to Hoffenheim and made his Bundesliga debut in March. He has played RB and CB and looks like he will be playing RCB in a three back system at Hoffenheim. I think Justin’s chances of making the World Cup roster is very low, but he’s got an elite skill set that fits the system perfectly and he is at a top club. If he develops and gets a chance to start next year for Hoffenheim, why not Justin? His positional flexibility could be intriguing at the fringes of a potential 26 person roster. 

Jonathan Tomkinson (Norwich City)

Tomkinson is an even bigger longshot as he is still on Norwich’s U23 Reserve side. Here is why I added him: he’s very talented, Norwich is getting relegated, and he could have a chance to earn a starting spot in The Championship next year, a level that Gregg is comfortable calling players from. You never know what could happen between now and November, so let’s just keep an eye on JT. 

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USMNT Kits Come in Different Styles and Colors

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Thomas Deschaine (@uskeeper on X and us_keeper on Instagram)

US Soccer kit releases are something fans get excited about and lately have resulted in disappointment. US Soccer’s recent schedule for kits release during the cycle has seen them releasing another road and or third kits in Gold Cup years and home and away pairs in the even years. 

US Soccer is expected to release the 2024 Copa America kits for the USMNT in the coming weeks headed into the Nations League Finals. Last Thursday evening Footy Headlines, who has had a good track record of leaking USMNT kits in the past, provided the below pictures of the home and away USMNT kits. These kits haven’t officially been announced by Nike or US Soccer, but the anticipated announcement is expected in the coming weeks headed into the Nations League Final.

Photo from Footheadlies.com – February 29, 2024

Fake Leaked USMNT Kits

The below USMNT kits were leaked over the last decade, but none of them came to fruition, it’s fun to look at what could have been for the USMNT.

2014 World Cup Kits

These leaked kits headed into the 2014 FIFA World Cup were where loved by many USMNT fans due to the sash and the use of the Centennial Crest, but unfortunately, these kits were fakes and never released.

Photo from SportsLogos.Net – September 13, 2013

2015 Alternative Kit & 2016 Copa America

Generally, US Soccer releases an alternate kit in the years that the Gold Cup is played. This leak kit was reported back in 2015 by NBCSports and then again by MLS Soccer when it was suggested it could be used during the Copa América Centenario.

Photo from NBCSports – April 2, 2015

2022 World Cup Kits

I would have much preferred for the USMNT to have worn these kits at the 2022 FIFA World Cup when they ended up, but alas it was another leaked kit that never was. 

Photo from proscoccerwire.com – May 6, 2022

2024 Copa America Kit

This rumored kit for the USMNT was based on similar kits worn by the USMNT at the 1924 Olympics and the 1930 World Cup.

Photo from the18.com via Footieheadlines.com – September 14, 2023

History of US Soccer Crest and USMNT kits

Over ten years ago I began my research of USMNT soccer data in search of a single source site, which I quickly found didn’t exist. Through my research, I started to comply with old USMNT kits and crests from the past. As I acquired more and more kits worn by the USMNT and was able to start to fill in the gaps between them I decided to digitally recreate these kits and share them with the USMNT fans. 

Here’s a look at what I was able to find while it seems like a lot I am sure there are many more kits I missed and if so I would love to know which ones so I could create and update what I have already.

History of US Soccer Crests

Here’s the history of the US Soccer crests. I had to recreate several of these crests based on old pictures I found throughout my research since there were no digital images available. 

USMNT Kits – 1916-1973

These were the first kits worn by the USMNT which weren’t sponsored. There are variations of these kits worn by the USMNT which comprised of variations of crests and styles, likely due to available funds during this time. My favorite kits in the group are the ones with the sashes from the 1928 and 1936 Olympics and the 1959 Pan American Games

USMNT Kits – 1974-1983

The group of kits for the USMNT were the first that were sponsored by Adidas. There were a lot of similar styles of kits during this time which really lacked any creativity. My favorite kits in the group are the ones from the middle to late 1970s, there is something about their simplicity and clean look. 

USMNT Kits – 1984-1994

Adidas’s 20-year run of creating kits for US Soccer ended in 1994, with few quality kits made during those couple of decades, which is ironic considering how nice Adidas’s kits are today. My favorite kits in the group are the 1985/1986 blue hoop kit and the 1988 Blue Olympic kit.

USMNT Kits – 1995-2011

In 1995 Nike took over the creation of the US Soccer kits and started by making three similar kits for the 1995 Copa America and 1996 third kit for the US Cup. Nike did release three Special Edition kits in 2003, 2004, and 2006, which were only worn for one match each. My favorite kits in the group all had a sash on them, which were both the 2010 World Cup kits and the red 2011 Gold Cup kit. 

USMNT Kits – 2012-Current

Most USMNT fans would agree that recent kits released by Nike haven’t held the standard seen in the 2010s, where the hoops/stripes that some many fans loved for the 2012 Waldo kits were incorporated. My unsung kits of this group are the 2018 home kit, which would have been worn at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the 2017 Gold Cup kit. 

USMNT Kits going forward

Nike and US Soccer signed what was considered a historical long-term sponsor agreement, in November 2021, that went into effect in Janaury 2023 that will run for at least a decade which will cover the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2028 Summer Olympics and possibly a 2027 or 2031 Women’s World Cup hosted in the United States, so for fans who has hoped for a different kit creator they will have to wait a while.

Once the 2024 Copa America kits are released US Soccer will likely only release one more kit for the 2025 Gold Cup for the USMNT before releasing the 2026 World Cup kits. One idea that I’ve had for a long time was for US Soccer to release Special Edition Kits with styles from the past, with the limited release of those kits, coupled with playing matches in locations and venues throughout the United States to build the fan base and excitement for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

In conclusion, I am somewhat optimistic that US Soccer and Nike will create some variation of the 2012 Waldo kit & 1994 Stats and Denim kit to be worn as the hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

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2024: A Pivotal Year for the USMNT

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Thomas Deschaine (@uskeeper on X/Formally Twitter)


Photo From: USA Today-John Locher, AP – 18, June 2023 – 2023 Concacaf Nations League 

As the fog hovered over Estadio Parque Artigas Stadium in Paysandú, Uruguay in the 58th minute Eric Wynalda received the ball on the right wing with Joe-Max Moore making a run forward and in front of  Wynalda who delivered a pass to Moore who then went down preventing the ball from being taken away and sending it back to Wynalda who slides forward and scores the third goal of the match and his third goal of the tournament, making it 3-0 USA over tenth-ranked Argentinians and all but sealing the win and the top spot in Group C at the 1995 Copa America. The win for this USMNT consisted of 17 players from the 1994 World Cup team who reached their pinnacle with this group of players finishing fourth at this Copa America.

Over the previous three decades, the USMNT has had some of the biggest wins in the team’s history. During the 1999 Confederations Cup, which was played in Mexico the USMNT played a hard-fought match against the fifth-ranked Germans defeating them 2-0 in the final group stage match and finishing third overall in the tournament. The USMNT would also have an even bigger result against second-ranked Spain in the semi-finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup when they ended Spain’s 35-game unbeaten streak in a 2-0 victory that would send them to the final against Brazil.

2024 is the midway point of the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle, and the next two windows for the USMNT who as a team and federation need to start ascending to their apex with this group to ensure that they have an amazing performance at the 2026 World Cup.

The USMNT has already played their first match, a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia, but need to quickly focus on the March window 2024 CONCACAF Nations League Finals where they will play Jamaica in the semi-final round and a win would put the USMNT in their third straight Nations League Final where they would have a chance to play either Mexico or Panama and win their third straight Concacaf Nations League trophy.

Some 90 days later the USMNT will be kicking off only their fifth appearance at the Copa America Tournament, with the stakes for this group at an all-time high and where success is demanded from the players, coaches, fans, and the federation. Will this current group of USMNT players and coaches be able to progress to the next level against the elite teams of CONMEBOL? It’s worth noting that the USMNT has finished fourth twice at Copa America in 1995 and 2016, however, the USMNT finished 32nd at the 1998 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The U-23 USMNT will also be playing the Olympics for the first time since 2008, which provides a great opportunity for those U-23 players to get noticed on a big stage. There are many eligible players who if released by their clubs will have a great opportunity to impress while helping the U-23 USMNT make a deep run at the 2024 Olympics in France.

As it becomes increasingly harder for the USMNT to schedule non-Concacaf opponents the US Soccer Federation will need to get creative in who and where they schedule these Friendly matches. The June window offers up the best opportunities for the USMNT to schedule matches against other CONMEBOL teams, preferably in Groups A and B which feature Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela

Edgar Moreno on X, formally Twitter, reported that the USMNT and Colombia have scheduled a Friendly headed into Copa America. It was also reported on Goal.com that Colombia will be scheduling a total of four matches leading into the tournament, two of which will be taking place in Europe. While there are challenges with timing and logistics around scheduling Friendlies with UEFA teams, USSF really needs to do everything possible to secure a similar type of schedule headed into Copa America but, rarely schedules USMNT Friendlies outside of the FIFA International window, which Colombia would need to do to make that schedule work. 

 It has been recently rumored that the USMNT might close to scheduling a Friendly with Colombia headed into Copa America. The September and October windows have few quality opponents available, at the time of the article it appears that the September window could be an opportunity to play schedule matches with teams from the CAF Confederation, but those matches would likely need to be played at neutral sites in Europe. 

2024 USMNT Window

MarchJune WindowCopa AmericaSeptemberOctoberNovember
CNL Finals                 March 18-26Friendlies            June 3-11                                  June 20-July 14Friendlies           Sept. 2-10Friendlies           Oct. 7-15CNL quarterfinals       Nov. 11-19

Below are eight years since the 1994 cycle that at the time were considered big years for the USMNT as they were playing in FIFA tournaments against teams from other confederations. Below is a look at how they fared.

1992

6 Wins, 4 Draws, 11 Losses, GF-21, GA-27

Third Place at the King Fahd Cup renamed Confederations Cup in 1997 edition.

First at U.S. Cup (Participating teams –Ireland, Italy & Portugal)

Top Goal Scorers

5-Eric Wynalda
3-Hugo Perez
3-Marcelo Balboa
2-Bruce Murray
2-John Harkes

Goalkeeper Stats

5 Wins – Tony Meola
4 Shutouts – Tony Meola


Photo From: Soccer International, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 1992

1993

10 Wins, 11 Draws, 13 Losses, GF-45, GA-44

Twelfth place at Copa America 

Second Place at Gold Cup

Third Place at U.S. Cup (Participating teams – Brazil, England & Germany)

34 matches played 1st All-Time

11 Draws tied for 1st All-Time with 1994

13 Loses 1st All-Time

44 Goals Conceded 1st All-Time

Top Goal Scorers

8-Joe-Max Moore
7-Dominic Kinnear
4-Alexi Lalas
4-Thomas Dooley

Goalkeeper Stats

Photo From:  El Grafico Number 3847, June 16, 1993

7 Wins – Tony Meola
8 Shutouts – Tony Meola

1995

5 Wins, 3 Draws, 6 Losses, GF-20, GA-18

Fourth Place at Copa America

First at U.S. Cup (Participating teams – Colombia, Mexico & Nigeria)

Top Goal Scorers

3-Eric Wynalda
2-Joe-Max Moore
2-Alexi Lalas
2-John Harkes

Goalkeeper Stats

3 Wins – Kasey Keller
2 Shutouts – Brad Friedel & Kasey Keller

Photo From: DIEGO GIUDICE Associated Press file, July 14, 1995

1999

7 Wins, 2 Draws, 4 Losses, GF-19, GA-11

Third Place at Confederations Cup

Second Place at U.S. Cup (Participating teams – Bolivia, Guatemala & Mexico)

Top Goal Scorers

3-Joe-Max Moore
3-Brian McBride
2-Ben Olsen
2-Jovan Kirovski
2-Frankie Hedjuk

Goalkeeper Stats

2 Wins – Brad Friedel & Kasey Keller
2 Shutouts – Brad Friedel & Tony Meola


Photo From: FIFA Report- 1999 Mexico, July 30, 1999

2003

10 Wins, 2 Draws, 4 Losses, GF-28, GA-10

Seventh Place at Confederations Cup

Third place at Gold Cup

Top Goal Scorers

7-Landon Donovan
4-Carlos Bocanegra
3-Brian McBride
3-Chris Klein

Goalkeeper Stats

6 Wins – Kasey Keller
5 Shutouts – Kasey Keller

Photo From: FIFA Confederations Cup, June 23, 2003

2007

12 Wins, 1 Draws, 5 Losses, GF-31, GA-19

Twelfth Place at Copa America 

First Place at Gold Cup

Top Goal Scorers

9-Landon Donovan
3-Clint Dempsey
3- DaMarcus Beasley
2-Eddie Johnson
2-Benny Feilhaber
2-Carlos Bocanegra

Goalkeeper Stats

8 Wins – Tim Howard
4 Shutouts – Tim Howard

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Guillermo Legaria/EPA/Shutterstock (8021271j) Argentinean Striker Lionel Messi (r) and U S Mildfielder Ricardo Clarck Figth For the Ball During the Copa America Group C Soccer Match Argentina Vs Usa at the Pachencho Romero Stadium in Maracaibo Venezuela 28 June 2007 Venezuela Maracaibo Venezuela Soccer Copa America – Jun 2007


Photo From: Guillermo Legaria – FIFA Copa America, June 28, 2007 

2009

13 Wins. 3 Draws, 8 Losses, GF-43, GA-36

Second Place at Confederations Cup

Second Place at Gold Cup

Top Goal Scorers

6-Jozy Altidore
5-Landon Donovan
4-Clint Dempsey
4-Michael Bradley
3- Sacha Kljestan
3- Charlie Davies

Goalkeeper Stats

7 Wins – Tim Howard
4 Shutouts – Tim Howard


Photo From: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

2016

12 Wins, 1 Draw, 6 Losses, GF-37, GA-20

Fourth Place at Copa America

Top Goal Scorers

6-Jozy Altidore
4-Bobby Wood
4-Clint Dempsey
3-Christian Pulisic
3-Gyasi Zardes

Goalkeeper Stats

8 Wins – Brad Guzan
6 Shutouts – Brad Guzan


Photo From: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations for the in 2024 USMNT

The USMNT is expected to once again advance to the Nations League Final and with their full fit A Squad should be able to bring home their third Nations League trophy, but the 2024 Copa America tournament is very possible the most important non-World Cup the USMNT has even competed it. How success and failure will be determined by the USSF and fans will be interesting to follow. Gregg Berhalter has to prove that he can put together a roster, a formation that allows for simple and effective tactics that will allow the USMNT to not only compete against some top-tier nations but beat them. Success for me isn’t just advancing to the semi-finals of Copa America The USMNT needs to perform at the next level against the top-tier nations, something that I’ve only seen a handful of times in my nearly 35 years as a USMNT fan.

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USMNT’S Next Great Location

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Where the USMNT Should Play Next and Why?

26 JUN 1994: COBI JONES#13 OF USA FIGHTS OFF THE CHALLENGE FROM FLORIN RADUCIOIU OF ROMANIA DURING THEIR 1994 WORLD CUP GROUP A MATCH AT THE ROSE BOWL STADIUM IN PASADENA, CALIFORNIA. ROMANIA WON THE MATCH 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/ALLSPORT

The largest USMNT home attendance of 93,869 took place at the 1994 World Cup in a 1-0 loss to Romania at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The U.S. men’s national team announced last month that their only January Camp 2024 Friendly match would be played in the nearly 8,300-seat Toyota Field, home of the USL Championship team San Antonio FC. This marks only the third time USMNT has played a match in a USL venue, the last match was in March 2018, at WakeMed Soccer Park, in Cary, North Carolina. It also marked the 16th time that the USMNT will be playing a match at a venue with a capacity of less than 10,000 (USMNT have played 13 matches at 10,000 seat capacity). 

How and where USMNT decides to play matches has recently been scrutinized by fans who live in areas of the United States where matches are rarely — or never — played. Back in March 2023, the USMNT played their final Concacaf Nations League match in Orlando, making its sixth appearance in Orlando since Exploria Stadium opened in 2017. The USMNT has also played seven matches in the state of Ohio since the beginning of the 2018 cycle, four of which have been played in Cincinnati, which is tied for the second most matches played in a city since 2018. USMNT fans nationwide who haven’t been able to attend a local or regional match recently continue to ask why the same handful of venues continue to be selected, even for Friendly matches.  

Since the beginning of the 2018 cycle, the USMNT has played 62 home matches at 28 venues, but 10 of those venues have hosted three or more times. The USSF doesn’t have control over which venues the USMNT will play their Gold Cup and Nation League Finals matches, but it does with friendlies, World Cup Qualifiers, and all home Nations League matches. 

During the Gregg Berhalter era (yes, I am counting the six-ish months when Anthony Hudson and B.J. Callaghan coached) the USMNT played the second- and third-longest consecutive home match stretches; 15 consecutive home matches in 2019 and 14 consecutive home matches in 2023. Both were years when the Gold Cup was played. The longest stretch was in 1994 when the USMNT hosted the World Cup and played 17 consecutive home matches. As we look forward to 2024 it is possible that the USMNT could reach 16 consecutive home matches played if they can play the maximum amount of Copa America matches and don’t schedule any road or neutral location matches during the September and October windows.

When posting on X (formerly Twitter) about the match at Geodis Park in Nashville, Tennessee, the USMNT account said, “Another stadium to cross off the list,” which appears to be a jab at the USMNT fans about venue selection. The recently scheduled January Camp match scheduled in San Antonio isn’t the first time the USMNT has played in this city. They beat Costa Rica 1-0 in 1988 at Alamo Stadium and in 2015 beat Mexico 2-0 at the Alamodome.

Breaking Down Recent USMNT Home Matches


Below are the US Cities in which the USMNT has played since the beginning of the 2018 cycle up through the group stage matches of Copa America 2024.

Kansas City, Kansas*5
Orlando, Florida5
Arlington, Texas4
Austin, Texas4
Cincinnati, Ohio4
Nashville, Tennessee4
Carson, California3
Paradise, Nevada3
St. Louis, Missouri3
St. Paul, Minnesota3

Below are the US States in which the USMNT has played since the beginning of the 2018 cycle through the Copa America 2024 group matches.

Texas10
Florida7
Ohio7
California6
Kansas*5
Missouri4
Tennessee4

*All three 2021 Gold Cup Group Stage matches were played at the same location.

In the past, locations and venue selection for World Cup qualifiers haven’t been ideal to ensure a true home-field advantage for the USMNT (see the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey). The US Soccer Federation has started to rely on the same 7 or 8 venues for critical matches. But, with the USMNT not needing to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, USSF has a great opportunity to play in locations they have never played before, or at least in recent memory.

As it currently stands, the USMNT hasn’t played a match in 22 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) and there are seven states in which the USMNT hasn’t played a match in nearly 10 years. Indiana, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the four most populated states to never host a USMNT match, and very much overdue to get matches scheduled at those locations.

One of the seven locations that haven’t seen the USMNT play in over 10 years is Michigan, which has seen two of the largest crowds to watch International Club soccer, the largest attendance of 109,318 in 2014 when Manchester United defeated Real Madrid 3-1 and the 2nd largest attendance of 105,826 in 2016 saw Real Madrid defeat Chelsea 3-2 both were played at the University of Michigan Stadium aka “The Big House”.

Which State or Venue Should the USMNT Play at Next?

Here’s a look at 10 locations/venues where I would like to see the USMNT play over the next couple of cycles. There are some challenges in getting matches scheduled in certain states and venues due to the playing surface not being grass or the venue not being the required size, which is the case in many of the NCAA football fields. 

The below graphic shows the regions where the USMNT has played or already scheduled  457 home matches, up through the Copa America 2024 group stage.

Alabama

Protective Stadium Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham Legion FC – USL Championship & UAB Blazers – NCAA Football
Capacity – 47,100

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Under the management of Bruce Arena, the USMNT played three matches in Alabama during the 2002 and 2006 cycles, but haven’t returned in almost 18 years. 

Last three Matches played in Alabama

March 30, 2005 – 2-0 win vs Guatemala – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – World Cup Qualifier

March 10, 2002 – 1-0 win vs Ecuador – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – Friendly

March 12, 2000 – 1-1 draw vs Tunisia – Birmingham, Alabama – Legion Field – Friendly

Arkansas

War Memorial Stadium – Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock Rangers – USL2 & Secondary Home of Arkansas Razorbacks – NCAA Football
Capacity – 54,120

WholeHogSports - In UA's view, War Memorial in need of $10M update

Neither the US Men’s nor Women’s National teams have played a soccer match in the state of Arkansas. Another option could be to play at the recently announced expansion USL Championship team to be located in Northwest Arkansas. 

Last three Matches played in Arkansas

No matches played


Hawaii

New Aloha Stadium (2033 – 2038) – Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Hawaii – NCAA Football
Capacity – Expected 25,000 – 30,000

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With a new Aloha Stadium expected to be built and hopefully finished in the next 10 years, playing a match in Hawaii seems more likely an option for the USMNT in the future, the perfect opportunity for a January camp location.

Back in 2015, the USWNT had a scheduled victory tour match at the current Aloha Stadium but was canceled on the day of the match because the artificial turf surface at the stadium was deemed unplayable. 

Last three Matches played in Hawaii

No matches played

Idaho

Albertsons Stadium – Boise, Idaho
Boise State University – NCAA Football
Capacity – 36,387

Neither the USMNT nor the USWNT has ever played a match in Idaho, or any of the other surrounding states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. However, in 2015 a friendly match was scheduled at the home of Boise State University at Albertsons Stadium, which is known for its blue surface, aka “Smurf Turf.”  The Basque Soccer Friendly featured Athletic Bilbao of La Liga against Club Tijuana of Liga MX in front of a crowd of 21,948 with Athletic Bilbao winning 2–0.   

Last three Matches played in Idaho

No matches played


Indiana

Future – Indy Eleven Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Indy Eleven – USL Championship
Capacity – 20,000

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The senior USMNT has never played in the state of Indiana. The B Team, however, has played Olympic qualifying matches there for the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, as well as the 1987 Pan American Games, with games not counting as full international caps

Last three Matches played in Indiana

May 10, 1992 – 3-1 win vs Canada – Bloomington, Indiana – Bill Armstrong Stadium – Olympic Qualifying 

August 15, 1987 – 0-2 loss vs Argentina – Indianapolis, IN – Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium- Pan American Games

May 25, 1987 – 4-1 win vs El Salvador – Indianapolis, IN – Kuntz Memorial Soccer Stadium – Olympic Qualifying

Kentucky

Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville City FC – USL Championship
Capacity – 11,700 (Expandable to 15,304)

It was nearly a full capacity crowd at Lynn Family Stadium Saturday on a hot evening as LouCity took on visiting Memphis. The boys in purple won, 3-0. June 12, 2021

Louisville City FC has been one of the more successful and popular USL teams in recent seasons and has an amazing fan base. This spurred the building of their soccer stadium in 2018. It is a logical location for a USMNT match. 

Last three Matches played in Kentucky

No matches played

New York City

Future – New York City FC – Bronx, New York
New York City FC – MLS Team
Capacity – 25,000

The US Men’s National Team hasn’t played in the New York City area in nearly 40 years, even though they have played matches at the home stadium of the New York Red Bulls which is in New Jersey. 

Last three Matches played in New York City Area

November 30, 1984 – 0-0 draw vs Ecuador – Hempstead, New York – Hofstra Stadium– Friendly

September 15, 1968 – 3-3 draw vs Israel – Bronx, New York – Yankee Stadium – Friendly

May 27, 1964 – 0-10 loss vs England – Randall’s Island, New York – Downing Stadium – Friendly

New York (Upstate)

Future – Buffalo Bills stadium (2026) – Orchard Park, New York
Buffalo Bills – NFL Team
Capacity – 62,000

Buffalo Bills unveil first design images of their new $1.4 billion stadium

The US Men’s National Team has never played in Upstate New York and with the new stadium being built for the Buffalo Bills — expected to be finished sometime in 2026 — the area would have a good venue for the USMNT to play.

Last three Matches played in Update New York

No matches played

New Mexico

Proposed – New Mexico United Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico United – USL Championship
Capacity – 12,000

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Another stadium option for the USMNT in New Mexico would be University Stadium also in Albuquerque, which had a seating capacity of over 30,000, however the overall attendance in the only three matches played there wasn’t impressive.

Last three Matches played in New Mexico

March 19, 2005 – 1-0 win vs Honduras – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly

April 30, 1994 – 0-2 loss vs Chile – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly

June 7, 1988 – 0-1 loss vs Ecuador – Albuquerque, New Mexico – University Stadium – Friendly (Clasico International Cup)

Oregon

Providence Park – Portland Oregon
Portland Timbers – MLS
Capacity – 25,218

It’s been 10 years since the USMNT has played in Oregon and with the Pacific Northwest being a soccer-crazed region, is time for the USMNT to return, while the stadium is currently using field turf they would have to make the necessary accommodations to support a grass service.

Last three Matches played in Oregon

July 9, 2013 – 6-1 win vs Belize – Portland, Oregon – Jeld-Wen Field – Gold Cup-Group Stage

May 24, 1998 – 2-0 win vs Kuwait – Portland, Oregon – Civic Stadium – Friendly

September 7, 1997 – 1-0 win vs Costa Rica Portland, Oregon – Civic Stadium – World Cup Qualifier


Other venues and locations considered were Paladin Stadium at Furman University in South Carolina, Memphis 901 FC recently announced a new 10,000-seat stadium to be built in Memphis, Tennessee in the next several years, and Riccardo Silva Stadium home of the USL Championship team Miami FC. Louisiana is another state which has two venues, the Tad Gormley Stadium and the Superdome both of which the US Women’s National Team has played at in the past and could be suitable options for the USMNT in the future.


What are the next and necessary steps for the US Soccer Federation?

With so many high-profile soccer tournaments to be played in the United States over the next six years, this is a great opportunity for the USSF to expand its reach and bring the USMNT to places it’s never been. As it relates to attendance and ticket pricing, the USSF needs to figure out the formula that would allow for maximum capacity at all home matches while allowing for the federation to bring in the necessary revenue desired. Here’s hoping that the United States Soccer Federation sees it the same way and acts accordingly. 

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