It was only a matter of time. Per Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, Orlando City Stadium will host a U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup qualifier on Friday, Oct. 6 when the Yanks play Panama.
The qualifier will be yet another major soccer event to be hosted in Orlando. The City Beautiful was a 2016 Copa America Centenario host and was selected for the upcoming 2017 International Champions Cup match at Camping World Stadium between PSG and Tottenham. Most recently, the NWSL awarded Orlando City Stadium the league’s 2017 championship game. OCS will also host the women’s NCAA College Cup in December.
Panama currently sits one point above the U.S. in the “Hex” in third place, the final automatic qualifying spot for the World Cup. The U.S. started 0-2 before Jurgen Klinsmann was fired and replaced with Bruce Arena. The U.S. responded with a home win and a road draw in the two matches since Arena took over.
Before the Orlando match, the U.S. will travel south to play Mexico at a still undetermined location in June and then will host Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, on Friday, Sept. 1. The USMNT will play at Honduras on Sept. 5.
This game would mark the fourth USMNT game to be played in Orlando, with the home team holding a 1-2-0 record at the building now known as Camping World Stadium.
This qualifying game would be the first USMNT game played in Orlando since January of 1998, almost 20 years ago, when the U.S. beat Sweden, 1-0, at the Citrus Bowl. Roy Wegerle scored the only goal of the game in just the second minute.
The U.S. has hosted two other international friendlies on the men’s side. The Yanks lost both of the first two by 1-0 score lines. The first of those came at the hands of Australia on June 13, 1992 in front of 17,400 fans — the largest Orlando crowd for a USMNT match. The U.S. also lost 1-0 in Orlando to Russia on Feb. 13, 1993.
Orlando also hosted an Olympic qualifying match back in March of 1980, where the Yanks beat Suriname, 2-1, but the U.S. ultimately boycotted the Olympics that year, so the result was a moot point.
In the last game Orlando hosted vs. Sweden, the U.S. boasted a team with the likes of Brad Friedel, Gregg Berhalter, Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos, Ernie Stewart, John Harkes, Claudio Reyna, Cobi Jones, Eric Wynalda, Joe-Max Moore, Roy Lassiter, Roy Wegerle and Preki.