Today is one of those days during the summer when FirstEnergy Stadium gets used for something besides Cleveland Browns games, as the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) takes on Nicaragua in Group B of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup takes place every two years, determining the continental champion of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It began in 1991 and out of 13 tournaments, the United States has 5 times. Mexico is the overall leader with 7 wins, and then Canada had 1 stray win.
The United States had a poor finish in 2015, preventing them from making the Gold Cup Final. With a head coaching change, though, the national team has performed better. They didn’t quite bring their full A-list roster to the Gold Cup, and are instead using this tournament to give more attention to their younger players.
This is the first time the city of Cleveland has ever hosted games for the Gold Cup. Earlier in the day, Panama defeated Martinique by a score of 3-0. That outcome clinched an advancement to the knockout stage for the USMNT. In order to claim first place in the group and draw a better seeding, though, they’ll need to beat Nicaragua by at least 3 goals.
Here is a great photo from earlier in the day of the stadium being prepared to host the Gold Cup:
Hey @Browns, @FEStadium is looking gooooooooooood. #USAvNCA #goldcup2017 ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/AKLhPM6uYn— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) July 15, 2017
Per Crain’s Cleveland, the Browns and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission are hoping for a good turnout, which could mean more soccer games at the stadium in the future:
The U.S. men's soccer team drew 23,368 fans for its 3-2 win over Martinique in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match Wednesday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. ... The attendance number is relevant to the Browns and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, who are hoping Saturday's Gold Cup doubleheader at FirstEnergy Stadium draws a larger crowd than the match in Tampa. ... A source told Crain's that, as of Monday morning, ticket sales for the Saturday matches in Cleveland were in the 21,000 range, and that the FES doubleheader had been pacing ahead of its Tampa counterpart all along.