Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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PPL Park to host CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying semifinals and final

In its short history, PPL Park has hosted a number of high-profile soccer occasions. This coming October, the Philadelphia Union's home will get one of its biggest games yet.

PPL Park to host CONCACAF Women's World Cup qualifying semifinals and final

(John Geliebter/USA Today Sports file photo)
(John Geliebter/USA Today Sports file photo)

Updated September 5 with results of the group stage draw.

In its short history, PPL Park has hosted a number of high-profile soccer occasions. In October, the Philadelphia Union's home will get one of its biggest games yet.

CONCACAF and the U.S. Soccer Federation officially announced Thursday afternoon that PPL Park will host the semifinals, final and third place game of the upcoming Women's World Cup qualifying tournament. Games will be played in Chester on Friday, October 24 and Sunday, October 26.

The two winners of the semifinals and the third place game get CONCACAF's automatic qualifying berths for next year's World Cup, which will take place in Canada. This means that the Philadelphia region will host the game that will likely seal the U.S.' World Cup berth.

Eight teams will participate in the qualifying tournament: the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago.

The CONCACAF qualifying tournament will be played from October 15-26, with two groups of four teams each. Group stage games will be played as doubleheaders at three venues: Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.; Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.; and RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Tickets for the games at PPL Park will go on sale on September 12. They will be available online here, by phone at 1-800-298-4200, and in person at the PPL Park box office.

If you are interested in going to games at the other three venues, click here for games in Kansas City, here for games in Bridgeview and here for games in Washington.

Group Draw

Group A: A1. United States, A2. Trinidad & Tobago, A3. Guatemala, A4. Haiti
Group B: B1. Costa Rica, B2. Mexico, B3. Jamaica, B4. Martinique

Game Schedule

All times below are Eastern.

Wednesday, October 15 at Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan. (Group stage)

6:00 p.m.: Guatemala vs. Haiti
8:30 p.m.: United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Thursday, October 16 at Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan. (Group stage)

6:00 p.m.: Jamaica vs. Martinique
8:30 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Mexico

Friday, October 17 at Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. (Group stage)

6:30 p.m.: Haiti vs. Trinidad & Tobago
9:00 p.m.: United States vs. Guatemala

Saturday, October 18 at Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. (Group stage)

4:00 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Jamaica
6:30 p.m.: Martinique vs. Mexico

Monday, October 20 at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.  (Group stage)

5:00 p.m.: Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago
7:30 p.m.: United States vs. Haiti

Tuesday, October 21 at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. (Group stage)

5:00 p.m.: Martinique vs. Costa Rica
7:30 p.m.: Mexico vs. Jamaica

Friday, October 24 at PPL Park, Chester, Pa. (Semifinals)

4:30 p.m.: 1B. vs. 2A.
7:30 p.m.: 1A. vs. 2B.

Sunday, October 24 at PPL Park, Chester, Pa. (Championship round)

3:00 p.m.: Third place game
6:00 p.m.: Championship Game

In a quirk of life in CONCACAF, Martinique can't actually qualify for the World Cup even though it has a team in the tournament. It is officially a French territory, and is not recognized as its own entity by FIFA. But it participates in CONCACAF's Caribbean competitions to help make up the numbers.

Fox Sports has broadcast rights to the entire qualifying tournament as part of its wide-ranging deal with CONCACAF. Games will be televised on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and Fox Soccer Plus, and will be streamed via Fox's free authenticated and paid subscription streaming services.

Fox also has rights to the 2015 Women's World Cup in the first year of its eight-year FIFA contract.

In addition to the three direct qualifiers, the fourth-place finisher will contest a two-leg playoff against the third-place team from South America. Host Canada gets an automatic bid. In all, CONCACAF could have as many as five nations in the tournament, which has been expanded from 16 to 24 berths for the first time.

That third-place playoff is worth nothing, and U.S. women's national team fans likely know why.

Four years ago, the Women's Gold Cup tournament served as the qualifying process. It took place in Mexico, and there were only two direct qualifying spots and a playoff berth up for grabs. The U.S. was stunned by the hosts in the semfinals, and so had to beat Costa Rica in the semfinals just to get a shot at the playoff. They did so by a 3-0 margin, then beat Italy 2-0 on aggregate (1-0 in each game) to book their passage to Germany.

This year's qualifying tournament was also originally set to be played in Mexico - Cancún and Playa del Carmen, specifically. In May, CONCACAF announced that the tournament would be moved because of venue issues. The Union started pushing right away to get games at PPL park, and they were rewarded with the biggest ones of all.

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Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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