U.S.'s World Cup qualifier in Trinidad set for 10,000-seat stadium
If the United States is going to qualify for the World Cup in October, it will have to do it at the 10,000-seat Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad, which was recently designated as the country's new "home of football."
The small venue has been confirmed as the site by FIFA, rather than Trinidad and Tobago's usual 27,000-capacity Hasely Crawford Stadium in the capital of Port-of-Spain, which currently has a problem with its lighting system, according to the country's federation.
A spokesman for the T&T Football Federation told ESPN FC: "The Hasely Crawford Stadium currently has major issues with its Mast Lighting System but this in turn gives the FA a boost in its efforts to fully utilize our newly established Home of Football (Ato Boldon Stadium) which was recently designated by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago."
Trinidad and Tobago played all of its qualifiers at the larger stadium in Port-of-Spain until this month, when the game against Honduras was moved to Couva with the Soca Warriors' qualification hopes looking slim.
Trinidad and Tobago federation vice president Ewing Davis was quoted in July as saying the smaller stadium also greatly lessens the expenses involved with hosting the games.
But he also claimed Couva provides a greater atmosphere for the home side, telling the T&T Guadian: "At the Ato Boldon the players are closer to the crowd and would be impacted by the support of the crowd more than in [Port-of-Spain]."
Honduras scored twice in the opening 16 minutes of the game in Couva and won 2-1 on Sept. 1. In 2001, both Fernando Torres and Pablo Zabaleta scored at the stadium during the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
In the U.S.'s last trip to Trinidad in the previous qualifying round, the U.S. was held to a goalless draw in front of 22,800 fans in Port-of-Spain in November 2015.
The Oct. 10 match against the U.S. will start at 8 p.m. ET, kicking off simultaneously with the other two games on the final day of the hexagonal -- Mexico at Honduras and Costa Rica at Panama.
The U.S. plays Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando before flying to Trinidad and will head into the final day uncertain of a berth for the first time since 1989, when Paul Caligiuri scored at National Stadium, as Hasely Crawford was then known, for a 1-0 win that advanced the U.S. to the World Cup for the first time since 1950.
Mexico has clinched one of the three berths from the CONCACAF region, and Costa Rica is on the verge of joining El Tri in Russia. Panama is third with 10 points, and the U.S. has nine, ahead of Honduras on goal difference.
The fourth-placed team meets Australia or Syria in an intercontinental playoff in November for a final berth.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.