It used to be said that Canada was the only national soccer team on the planet that never played a home game. Sure, they would host games in the country but crowds in attendance would support the visiting team.
However, after a pro-Canadian crowd of 54,798 showed up to support the team at BC Place last month, the aforementioned is no longer true. The attendance was a Canadian record, the most for any national team game in any sport.
In response to its success as a host venue for the Canadian men's national team, Vancouver will be rewarded. The Canadian Soccer Association is expected to announce Tuesday that BC Place will host Canada's September World Cup qualifier against El Salvador. The match will be played on September 6, following a September 2 trip to Honduras for Canada.
The result of that match, likely in San Pedro Sula, will determine the importance of the final match of qualification for Canada. No matter how it plays out, however, Canada will have at least a mathematical chance of reaching the final round of qualifying with a positive result against El Salvador.
Canada currently sit third in Group A of qualifiers after a pair of losses to Mexico. They are tied on points with Honduras, who sit in second. The top two teams in the group advance to the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying. Canada has not reached this stage since qualification for the 1998 World Cup.
There was some talk that this final match of qualifying could be moved to Toronto. After all, Canada's biggest city has hosted the vast majority of recent World Cup qualifiers. Likely the only reason they have yet to host a game this round has to do with renovations to BMO Field, which have since been completed.
Logistically, it would be difficult as well. The Toronto Argonauts play a game just six prior to September 6 , and Toronto FC plays three days later. This kicks off a busy September for the stadium, with the Argos playing a home game while Toronto FC plays four.
More than this, however, Vancouver really does deserve the match. They have been able to bring out record crowds for Canada matches while providing an atmosphere that has not yet been matched anywhere else in the country.
If Canada is able to get beyond the fourth round of qualifying, where the plays will be revisited. For now, it makes sense to keep Vancouver as the home of the national team.