Orlando City Stadium will host the United States vs. Panama FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier on Friday, Oct. 6. The U.S. MNT match marks the first major external event announced at Orlando City Stadium, and the second consecutive World Cup cycle that Major League Soccer (MLS) stadiums have hosted all five home qualifiers.
U.S. Soccer will announce ticketing information for this match at a later date.
“We’ve been very open about our objectives to bring world-class events to Central Florida with the completion of our new venue and this is a natural evolution of those plans,” CEO Alex Leitão said. “We’ve seen the engagement from our supporters and the impact they have on our MLS and National Women’s Soccer League teams, and we are excited to see the atmosphere and energy they will bring when the U.S. National Team comes to town to play their last home qualifying match of the tournament.”
Orlando City Stadium has quickly become one of the most exciting soccer stadiums across North America since opening its doors in March of this year. The venue features an all-natural grass pitch sunken eight feet below street level, offering excellent views from every seat, and the only fully, standing-room only section in the U.S.
“Our Club has played an active role in using the influence of our teams to attract worldwide interest in bringing more soccer into this community,” Orlando City SC COO Fred Pollastri added. “Our fans, and the fortress they’ve created, are helping us achieve these goals starting with this match.”
This will be the U.S. MNT’s first competitive match in Orlando and the first in the City Beautiful since 1998, when the Yankees earned a 1-0 friendly win over Sweden. The U.S. also played two friendlies in Orlando in 1993, dropping 1-0 decisions to Russia and Australia.
The United States is currently in fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal. The top three teams qualify for the 2018 World Cup, while the fourth team with play a one-match playoff against Asia’s fifth-place team.
In 2016, Orlando City SC worked in conjunction with the City of Orlando and the Central Florida Sports Commission to host three games at Camping World Stadium in Copa America Centenario, a tournament that took place in 12 U.S. cities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the South American soccer championships.
In 2015, the trio also hosted an international friendly at Camping World Stadium between the 2015 World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team and Brazil.
Throughout its tenure in Orlando, the Club’s First Team has played several friendly competitions with international sides, including Brazilian club Esporte Clube Bahia, Sao Paulo FC, Ponte Preta and Fluminense FC, English Premier League’s Stoke City and West Bromwich as well as Italian Serie A side AS Roma.