Cincinnati's USMNT/Mexico game is sold out, but here's how to get in on the festivities
Cincinnati has hosted the U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams, but never has a game been as important as the one scheduled for Friday night at TQL Stadium. The USA takes on rival Mexico in World Cup qualifying at 9:10 p.m.
The match-up was historically played in Columbus, long considered a stronghold for American soccer with four 2-nil - or Dos a Cero - USA victories over the Mexican side known as El Tri. For years, many fans considered Columbus the spiritual home of the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) - with a stadium guaranteed to draw a strong pro-USA crowd.
Now it's another Ohio city's turn to keep that passion alive.
"Thanks to our new stadium and our amazing soccer fan base, U.S. Soccer selected Cincinnati for the biggest match every four years - not the biggest match of the year - every four years, USA/Mexico in America... the biggest soccer match, and it's coming this Friday to Cincinnati," says Jeff Berding, general manager of FC Cincinnati.
The game is sold out and fans are coming in from across North America. The game will be broadcast internationally and media from across the world will be here or reporting from abroad.
"What an opportunity for the Queen City to shine and welcome everybody," says Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber President Alfonso Cornejo. "We don't have very many opportunities like this in the history of a city in our country so let's hope that we have one of the best times ever in this game."
Berding echoes that, saying hosting this match is an opportunity to show the city off to the world, and make a statement to FIFA and CONCACAF, which are considering Cincinnati as a possible host site for the 2026 World Cup - one of the largest sporting events in the world.
"Hosting this World Cup qualifier - the biggest soccer match in this country every four years - is absolutely a warm-up and shows U.S. Soccer, CONCACAF and FIFA that Cincinnati is well positioned to put on a spectacular event with soccer passion, and pride, and the spirit of the heartland of this country, and we are going to show that on Friday night," Berding says.
Fans attending the game are encouraged to arrive early. Central Parkway southbound in front of TQL Stadium will close starting at 7 a.m. on Friday. Other FC Cincinnati game day street closures will also be in place. Additional security and law enforcement will be around town. The streetcar is adding service on Friday and will run until 1 a.m.
Fan HQ opens in front of the stadium at 5:30 p.m. TQL Stadium gates open at 7 p.m. and the team suggests getting into the stadium early. A light and pyrotechnic show is slated for 8:30 p.m. Kick-off is set for 9:10 p.m. The game is being broadcast on ESPN2, Univision and TUDN.
What to do if you aren't going to the game
For fans who don't have tickets but still want to participate in the game day festivities or watch the match, there are lots of events planned from Thursday evening through Friday night.
The Banks is hosting a watch party Friday. Starting at 6 p.m., the UC football game against South Florida will be broadcast on the big screen on Great American Ball Park. Watch party events get going at 7 p.m. with a DJ and other promotions. The game will be broadcast on the big screen beginning at 9 p.m.
The game will also be on the big screen at Washington Park and pre-game festivities there begin at 4 p.m., according to 3CDC.
Buildings across the Cincinnati skyline are being lit in red, white and blue and people across the city are encouraged to wear red, white and blue Friday.