SANDY — Rio Tinto Stadium may not be the largest venue in which the U.S. Soccer Men’s National team has played a World Cup qualifier, but with a sold out crowd expected Tuesday for the match against Honduras, the USMNT is expecting fans to do their part to create a supportive atmosphere.
“We expect a good crowd,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard told the media Saturday before training. “It’s good that we’re able to sell out some of our home stadiums now. We’re excited to be here. Obviously we know the venue well. We’re looking forward to obviously a raucous crowd that plays its part and we’ve had that so far — we had that in D.C. and Seattle and it certainly helps when you have a strong support behind you.”
Utah-based soccer fans have had only two opportunities in the past so see the USMNT play, Sept. 5, 2009 against El Salvador and June 4, 2005 against Costa Rica, both World Cup qualifiers that resulted in victories for the team.
The USMNT knows how large its fan base in Utah is and looks forward to the support it will receive on Tuesday.
“We’ve played here before,” said U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley. “We know that the people here love soccer, they love supporting our team so we hope that really from the time we step on the field we feel their support pushing us on and really, that can make such a difference.”
Those same fans welcomed the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team last summer as it hosted Canada's women’s national team in an Olympic send-off match ahead of the London Olympics.
Utah soccer fans get a rare opportunity this summer with the chance to see the men's national team again in just a few short weeks as it returns for a CONCACAF match on July 13 against Cuba. Rio Tinto is the only venue in the country that will host the USMNT twice this year. Real Salt Lake players Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Nick Rimando have been named to the preliminary roster for that match.
With the match just days away, those Utah-based fans have taken to Twitter to express their excitement for the match Tuesday and the opportunity to be a part of the sold out crowd.
“I am getting more and more excited for the #USMNT game on Tuesday! I have never been to a #USMNT game, and the atmosphere is going to be epic,” twitter user @SaltyGunner tweeted Friday.
The tweets started rolling in immediately after the USMNT match in Seattle last Tuesday.
“Well done, Seattle. Appears the sod only affected Panama. It’s our turn in SLC next week. See you then, #USMNT!,” Twitter user @wheatie_87 tweeted on Tuesday.
Kira Terry is a sports writer covering Real Salt Lake for KSL.com. Follow her on Twitter, @kiraterry.