It did not even take two days for Rio Tinto Stadium to sell out for the United States' June 18 World Cup qualifier against Honduras. Tickets for the match went on sale Tuesday morning and by Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Soccer announced that the match had sold out, with all 20,000+ tickets bought for what should be another tremendous atmosphere for the U.S. in Utah.
The U.S. played their first qualifier in Salt Lake City in 2005, when more than 40,000 fans packed Rice Eccles Stadium to see the Americans beat Costa Rica 3-0. Four years later, the U.S. returned to the area, albeit this time to Rio Tinto Stadium in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, but the result was the same. Thanks to goals by Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, the U.S. topped El Salvador in front of 19,066 fans to help them qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
In June, the U.S. will return to Utah and Rio Tinto Stadium. Once again, the stadium will be packed, but this time the bar is higher.
Whereas Utah was an American oasis in past cycles, a rare place where the U.S. could get a true home-field advantage, this time around it appears as if other cities can do the same. Denver did it in the Americans' 1-0 win over Costa Rica and Kansas City, which will host an October qualifier and did not have a stadium last cycle, has joined Columbus as a dependable place for a pro-U.S. crowd.
Utah will have to provide an atmosphere unlike it has before to keep up with the growing U.S. support around the country. But if a two-day sellout is any indication, they are up to the challenge.
It will be a full red, white and blue crowd on June 18. Welcome, Honduras.