Euros and Copa America may be over but now the 16th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup is taking place place. The tournament is held at ten US stadiums. Among them, as many as five belong to clubs currently playing in MLS.
US team in group stage only in Kansas City
Mexicans are defending champions. Like 12 other teams from North, Central America and the Caribbean, they didn't have to qualify, their participation in the group phase has been certain all along. Before that phase began, though, preliminary rounds saw 12 nations compete for the final three spots in the 16-team group stage.
Unlike during Euro or Asian qualifiers, all of the preliminary rounds took place at once, on July 2-6 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, where Inter Miami plays its home games.
Due to the pandemic, the US soccer team is playing all group stage matches (group B) in one location, namely Kansas City at Children's Mercy Park, which is home of Sporting.
Texas takes the cake
All of the tournament, in fact, is very concentrated. In order to limit necessary travel between host venues, most stadiums and games are held within three of the largest metropolies of Texas: Austin, Dallas and Houston. Austin has only one stadium listed, while Houston has two and Dallas - three.
Texas can also boast diasporas of nearly all participating nations, which might be important to some fans. Because supporters are very welcome to fill the stadiums, even up to 100%. In fact, tickets for the final were sold out within 90 minutes!
Tournament's second major favourite, Mexico, is playing its group stage fixtures (Group A) at venues in Texas, two at Cotton Bowl in Dallas and one at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, a city that belongs to the same metropolitan area as Dallas. As many as six out of ten arenas of the North American championship are located in Texas. This state was one of the first in the country to admit fans to the stadiums.
Most of Group D matches will be held at BBVA Stadium, home to Houston Dynamo FC, a two-time MLS Cup winner. In addition, four group phase encounters will take place at Toyota Stadium, which is operated by FC Dallas on a daily basis.
"Death Star" will host the final
If the US team makes it to the quarterfinals, they will move to Texas at AT&T Stadium, where one more match of this phase of the competition will be played. The other two quarterfinals will be held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Semifinals will be played on July 29 at Q2 Stadium in Austin and NRG Stadium in Houston. Interestingly, the Austin stadium is not due to open until June and when that happens, it will be home to MLS Austin FC. The final will take place on August 1 at Allegiant Stadium.
The Austin facility as well as Exploria Stadium in Orlando (most Group C fixtures will be played there) will make their debut as the Gold Cup arenas. Since 1991, the tournament has been played entirely in the United States or with another co-host country.
The announcement of these outstanding venues moves us a step closer to what is sure to be a great Gold Cup this summer. It is fitting that in our 60th anniversary year we will use a number of stadiums with a rich history of hosting Concacaf football, while also making history with new venues that will host Gold Cup matches for the very first time. said Victor Montagliani, Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President.
Author: Tomasz Sobura