KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A sold-out Livestrong Sporting Park was rocking as the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team took on Guatemala in a World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday night, in a display that shows just how far professional soccer has come in Kansas City.
The U.S. defeated Guatemala 3-1 to reach next year’s final round of World Cup qualifying in front of nearly 17,000 fans – most decked out in US colors.
Clint Dempsey had two goals for the U.S. side, which had to rally from an early 1-0 deficit in the fifth minute of the game. Carlos Bocanegra added another goal for the U.S.
Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi, playing on his home field, added an assist for the U.S.
For many fans, though, the star of the night was the stadium – which opened in 2011 and is already known as one of the finest soccer-specific facilities in the U.S. Sporting KC has sold out 16 out of 17 games this season, and have already had to cap season ticket sales for next season at 13,000.
Rob Thomson, a spokesperson for the venue, said the semi-final round of qualifying between the U.S and Guatemala is probably the biggest event they’ve hosted.
Thomson said the love for soccer happened so quickly in the area, it was a welcome surprise.
“It’s grown so much I can’t even explain. We didn’t think it would grow this fast,” said Thomson.
Soccer fans from around the country say that Livestrong Sporting Park is among the best stadiums they’ve ever seen.
“I’m originally from St. Louis went to Busch Stadium went to the new Busch Stadium. To me the environment here on game day is he best I’ve ever been to,” said Eric Guthrie, a U.S soccer fan.
The venue is exactly what Thomson said is bringing these fans there, and growing a soccer culture that hasn’t been here before. He said the results have been years in the making.
“We put a lot of work into this creating this soccer culture with the fans and building this great stadium, and with the work of U.S. soccer bringing this game here tonight ,” Thomson said.
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