The United States will open 2018 World Cup qualifying on November 13 in St. Louis, U.S. Soccer announced on Monday. The Americans will play the winner of the two-legged tie between Aruba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
St. Louis is one of the country's best soccer cities, providing talent to the national team for decades and routinely tuning in in big numbers on TV, but they haven't hosted the men's national team since 1998, and haven't hosted a World Cup qualifier since 1989. They did host a women's friendly earlier this year and drew an impressive 35,817, which is a record for a standalone USWNT friendly.
The biggest reason St. Louis hasn't hosted matches is the lack of a soccer stadium. Their football stadium is a dome, making it a poor fit for soccer and they don't have a large soccer-specific venue. This match will be played at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, making for a bit of an awkward home. Playing in a baseball stadium id hardly ideal, but it worked out decently for the women and the game is several weeks after the end of baseball season so the grounds crew should be able to do a good job laying grass over the dirt infield.
The U.S. will open World Cup qualifying in St. Louis as the first of six matches in the semifinal round. Trinidad and Tobago, the winner of Aruba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the winner of Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda are also in their group. The Americans will play each team home and away between November and September of next year and the top two teams in the group will advance to the final round of qualifying.