World Cup Soccer at Legion Field
March 24, 2005
On Wednesday, March 30 the most popular sports tournament in the world will make Birmingham’s Legion Field the “Soccer Capitol of the South” for one evening. The United States Men’s National soccer team will host Guatemala in a second round 2006 World Cup qualifying match that promises to pack thousands into the stands. Once revered as “The Football Capitol of the South,” Legion Field’s success at hosting past soccer matches hasn’t been too shabby either; the U.S. Olympic men’s team played two games there in 1996, drawing a crowd of 46,000 for the second match. The Men’s National team attracted 22,000 in 2000 and 24,000 in 2002 for non-World Cup events.
The upcoming bout with Guatemala will be tough and not simply because of the opponent; two days earlier the U.S. will be in Mexico to face the Mexican National team. Both the Mexico and Guatemala matches will be telecast live on ESPN2, with noon and 7 p.m. starting times, respectively. Sentimental fans of the stadium should note that this will likely be the final event held at Legion Field before the condemned upper deck comes tumbling down (by design). City officials have reassured all concerned that the upper deck is safe as long as it remains unoccupied. But then again, Legion Field has never been invaded by a bunch of rowdy World Cup soccer hooligans.