There's trouble up in Canada. A debate is currently raging between Duane Rollins of the 24th Minute and Daniel Squizzato of Some Canadian Guys over where Canadian National Team matches should take place; Duane's stance is that regular games in one location, the better to build up a committed supporter base, trumps concerns about spreading the national team around the country. Squizz disagrees, as evidenced by his petition to get a CMNT game for the city of Moncton, New Brunswick.

Obviously this is an American soccer blog, so the question of where Canada should play their home games is not of much concern (though ultimately, I'd like Canada to get better for the region's sake). But the Duane v. Squizz debate does bring up similar questions in regards to our own national team; while support for the Yanks is growing, we still have very real issues when it comes to creating a true home soil advantage. Columbus in February, with tight control of ticket sales, is just about the only chance US Soccer has of generating a real home crowd against of the regions bigger soccer nations. With CONCACAF scrapping the Hex, we might not even have that anymore.

We've batted the idea of a national stadium around in the past at this site. We've discussed where such a facility might be located, and we've gone through the general problems with the concept. This is a big country, with soccer fans spread from coast to coast; to put a majority of games in one city (national stadium or not) might have some ancillary benefits, but ultimately borders on "unfair." Even now, with games scheduled for Chicago and Philadelphia in a few weeks, segments of the fan base in the western parts of the country are grousing that they get far too few games. With so many options available, it seems an odd idea to pin the USMNT down to one place.

For US Soccer, the policy of moving games around the nation also allows them to generate significant income. In Grant Wahl's piece on Juergen Klinsmann's second un-consummation with US Soccer, he mentions that one of the issues may have been control over friendly opponents and locations; Dan Flynn has the con on those choices because he has successfully turned the federation's finances around through their strategic use. Simply put, all of those sold out games where US support is outnumbered two to one or worse pay the bills. And, in reality, there's likely no way to establish one US venue and hope to turn it into an American fortress, always filled with more fans in Red, White, and Blue than whatever colors the opponents wear. We're just not there yet.

The real issue at play up north between Duane and Squizz is whether the priority should be making the team truly national by taking games to every possible corner of the country, or if it's simply about winning. If it's just about winning, and if winning is a necessary prerequisite to building more support, then Duane's argument has merit (he is also concerned with travel in regards to Canada's Euro-based players). Consistency would no doubt benefit the players, and a regular group of fans would surely form to show up at whatever venue becomes established home for the team. But winning is not the only concern, and there may be something to be said for putting the national team in as many towns/regions as possible in order to create connections with the soccer-loving fans in those areas. In an abstract sense, it's easy to imagine a young player (perhaps with dual-citizenship or foreign parentage) falling in love with his national team when they come to his city; if the team never comes, does he, or can he, still create a bond? Even if the issue isn't potential players but is just about fans, will fans become committed supporters if their national team is always playing somewhere else?

Excuse me while I ride the fence, but I can see the benefits of each argument in the Canadian debate. If the country in question is flipped to my own, I tend to lean more towards the policy in place now; the United States has a few more variables at play than Canada, the most significant being our relative success. If the US was struggling to qualify for World Cups, it might make sense to give the team every possible advantage and ignore any calls to "share" games with other regions of the country. On the other had, the team represents the country as a whole and not one specific city; as a matter of public trust, in countries as big as these, taking games to a variety of places, as often as is practical, feels like the right thing to do.

Be sure to check out this on-topic post from Matt Acconciamessa with an alternative plan for USMNT games as well.
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