COLUMBUS, Ohio —
After this, the Americans play Jamaica at Kansas City, Kan., on Oct. 11 and finish four days later at Panama.
“You don’t want to be waiting until the last game and wanting other teams to do you a favor because you’re not able to get the job done,” U.S. captain Clint Dempsey said. “So ideally, we’d like to get that wrapped up as soon as we can.”
The U.S. is 23-0-2 in home qualifiers since losing to Honduras in September 2001 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and 37-1-7 in qualifiers on American soil since losing to Costa Rica in 1985 at Torrance Calif.
The defeat to the Catrachos prompted then-coach Bruce Arena to pronounce: “Only in America, I guess, we’re fighting for a home-field advantage.”
Since the 2001 loss, the U.S. Soccer Federation has focused on selecting sites for home games likely to produce a pro-American crowd, sometimes giving up revenue that could have been collected at larger grounds.
Earlier qualifiers this year included a 1-0 win over Costa Rica at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver, a 2-0 victory over Panama at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and a 1-0 win over Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium outside Salt Lake City.
“If every time we came here, the crowd was great and we lost, it wouldn’t mean nearly as much,” American goalkeeper Tim Howard said.
“It’s a raucous crowd. There’s very few places in America that we can get a full house, a pro-U.S. crowd, a city that’s really hungry for national team games. This is probably one of three or four venues that we have the ability to do that.”
The 2001 win, on goals by Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart, came on a 28-degree February night and became known as “La Guerra Fria” (The Cold War).