Gold Cup Final to shine at Soldier Field


Patrick Casey

Gold Cup Final to shine at Soldier Field

By Jermaine Nolen

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced Sept. 27 that its 2019 Gold Cup Final will be hosted at Soldier Field.

The tournament is held every two years with matches played at stadiums throughout the United States. This will be the third time the tournament has been hosted at Soldier Field—the most recent in 2013—and its fourth in Chicago.

 “I grew up on the Southwest Side of Chicago so the main sport at my school was basketball, and I still remember being one of the few kids who liked soccer,” said  Pilsen resident and Chicago Fire season ticket holder Ismael Cuevas. “Seeing how the sport has grown, especially in my neighborhood, and [going from] a couple of kids kicking a ball to full-grown soccer leagues in my neighborhood is pretty awesome.”

Cuevas said he hopes the Gold Cup final is something the entire city can be a part of, adding that CONCACAF should make the final match affordable for all fans. 

In addition to hosting the tournament in Chicago, North America recently secured a bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. During the 68th FIFA Congress June 13, the organization announced The World Cup will be held in cities throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico, marking the first time  the tournament will be hosted across three different countries.

 The 2026 World Cup will have 80 matches, 60 of which will take place in the United States.

South Chicago Heights resident Deandre Hooks said he first got interested in soccer during the 2017 World Cup in Brazil.

“It’s perfect [that the Gold Cup Final will be hosted in Chicago],” Hooks said. “They had a couple matches—international matches—here last year, and they didn’t have them at soccer stadiums. They had them at Soldier Field, which is one of the biggest venues in the city.”

The 2017 Major League Soccer all star game was also held at Soldier Field. According to ESPN, 61,428 fans gathered to watch the MLS all stars take on  Real Madrid.

“I got into soccer in the third or fourth grade, and I picked it back up in high school, [because of] Manchester United,” said Peoria native Johnnie Young, “so I’ve been a Man U fan since.” 

A study conducted in 2017  sought to find out youth sports involvement. The study showed 16.1 percent of children ages 6-12 play outdoor soccer. This percentage is only second to basketball, which was reported at 17.9 percent, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association in June 2018.

 “Soccer in America is an expensive sport to play,” Young said. “A lot of [the lower income] people can’t afford to play soccer, that’s why they don’t know about it as much. Once [soccer is] open to kids, as they grow up that’s when we will see more popularity of it.”