Freeze-out: USA will head to Midwest for winter home qualifiers

The USA, which has never played a home match outdoors at a cold-weather venue in January, will host El Salvador Jan. 27 at Field in Columbus to open the three-game winter window in World Cup 2022 qualifying.

After a match against Canada on Jan. 30 in Hamilton, Ontario, the USA will close out the window against Honduras on Feb. 2 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.

U.S. Soccer's decision on its home qualifiers was dependent on the Canadian Soccer Association's choice for the Jan. 30 match. If Canada had chosen Vancouver, the USA would have probably played its two home qualifiers on the West Coast to minimize travel.

Flight times from Columbus to Hamilton are about an hour, and it's about two hours from Hamilton to Minneapolis.

The average temperatures in Columbus and St. Paul on the same dates in 2021 were 31 degrees and 21 degrees.

The El Salvador match will be the USA's second game in Columbus in the Octagonal, marking the first time since 2001 it will have played two matches in the same venue during the final round of qualifying. The USA rallied to beat Costa Rica, 2-1, in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,165 fans at the new Field to close out the October window.

The USA will make its second visit to St. Paul after opening the Gold Cup against Guyana in 2019, two months after Allianz Field opened.

10 comments about "Freeze-out: USA will head to Midwest for winter home qualifiers".
  1. Bob Ashpole, November 24, 2021 at 11:32 p.m.

    Minnesota in the dead of winter? USSF is completely nuts. Our own players, even if any were from Minnesota, won't be able to play well when it's 20 below zero. I have exercised outdoors in 20 below weather and playing a soccer match would be dangerous. Just standing still and breathing is dangerous in -25 degree temperatures.

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, November 24, 2021 at 11:36 p.m.

    Just so its clear, this is risking permanent damage to the lungs and the end of the players' careers. Lunatics.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, November 24, 2021 at 11:57 p.m.

    The record low temperature for Minnesota is -69 degrees on February 2, 2018.

    You cannot count on averages. Averages are mathematical calculations, not reality.

  4. Kent James, November 25, 2021 at 1:43 a.m.

    I agree with Bob; I get you want to maximize your homefield advantage, but St. Paul in the middle of winter?  You'll be lucky if it's 21 degrees.  The quality of play will suffer (not to mention the players and fans), and if we're the more skilled team (which I think we are), poor weather may negate our skill advantage.  Not wise.  FIFA should set limits for acceptible playing conditions for qualifiers to prevent the efforts of local federations to make their opponents suffer.

  5. Santiago 1314, November 25, 2021 at 11:45 a.m.

    Minn. Feb???  Maybe if It was  a Team Stronger then USA ... But not for This Opponent !!!

  6. R2 Dad, November 25, 2021 at 11:50 a.m.

    I guess it was too difficult finding a pitch with temperatures in the 30-50s? USSF: continuing to make hard work on simple decisions.

  7. S Nissen, November 26, 2021 at 9:47 a.m.

    I think playing winter WNT matches outdoors in the upper MidWest makes as much sense as playing the Mens 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

  8. Greg Gould, November 26, 2021 at 10:29 a.m.

    Completely agree. Seeking an advantage is smart but this seems like cutting off your nose to spight your face. Fans will be miserable and muted if they show up at all. Weather will be an equalizer on the field rather than give us an advantage. We should be huge favorites already. Why make it harder for our side?????? 

  9. Dave Wasser, November 26, 2021 at 11:51 a.m.

    The US Soccer Federation is saying they want to reduce travel times to and from Hamilton. But if they played in Atlanta or Orlando rather than Columbus that adds maybe an hour to the flight. What difference does one hour make? This decision is so stupid!

  10. Kevin Sims, November 26, 2021 at 2:45 p.m.

    This strategic approach is flawed. Seeking a home-field advantage at the expense of the ability to play the match well is wrong. I have always felt ... and experience has affirmed virtually without fail ... that poor playing conditions become a great equalizer. If we believe we are the superior team, we should seek an environment conducive to maximizing the quality of play. This scenario suggests we need to trick our way to success. I am not a fan.     

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