Q2 Stadium Hosts First World Cup Qualifier in Texas
By Jaxie Pidgeon
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – Q2 Stadium in Austin hosted the first World Cup Qualifying match in Texas on Oct. 7 as the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) faced Jamaica.
Thanks to Ricardo Pepi’s two goals in the second-half, the USMNT grabbed a 2-0 victory.
The USMNT is hoping to bounce back by making it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The team failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, its first absence from the tournament since 1986.
Q2 Stadium, home to Austin FC, opened four months ago. The Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium brought together soccer fans from across the globe.
Moe Paquette is a longtime supporter of U.S. Soccer. His journey following the USMNT began in Scotland in 2013.
Moe Paquette attended his first United States soccer game at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo: Moe Paquette)
Eight years later, he is now vice president of the Northern Vermont chapter of the American Outlaws, a national soccer support group. He made a 2,000-mile trip from Burlington, VT to Austin to cheer on the USMNT.
“Slowly you go to more and more, you meet more and more people,” Paquette said. “It’s a great way to travel the country and the world.”
The Oct. 7 match brought an estimated 20,500 people to the Lone Star State.
Peter Haley is the incoming president of the Columbia, SC chapter of the American Outlaws and has been attending U.S. soccer matches around the world for over 10 years. He said Q2 Stadium is the smallest venue he’s been at for a qualifier, but it turned out to be beneficial for supporters.
“Having a little bit of a smaller, more intimate space gives you the opportunity to make more noise and for it to carry through the space better,” Haley said.
Haley said playing in the U.S. doesn’t always guarantee home-field advantage depending on who the opponent is, but Austin ended up being a meaningful host site for American fans.
“With the work that U.S. Soccer has done to put it in some smaller venues to try and localize U.S. supporters, that shows their trust in Austin to be able to show out,” Haley said.
Drew Hays, director of the Austin Sports Commission, said it is exciting for Austin to be able to host elite sporting events like this qualifier because it draws more tourists to the city.
“People come here for the live music, people come here for the food, the entertainment,” Hays said. “Now, people are going to come here for sports too. Austin is a sports city, and we’re going to try to ride that momentum through soccer.”
Although Q2 Stadium is too small of a venue to host a World Cup match, Austin is getting the ball rolling for international soccer in Texas. Houston and Dallas are both potential host cities for the 2026 World Cup.
“I have no doubt that people are going to see this game and want to come to Austin because of it,” Hays said. When we can attract the men’s national team in this case, it’s only going to set up for future success.”
Paquette said the new North Austin stadium was a huge draw for USMNT supporters.
“It’s definitely cool to get into new markets, and again, all about growing the game, get it to a place that’s never hosted a qualifier,” Paquette said.
With a sellout crowd for the U.S. vs. Jamaica match, fans are already looking forward to more top-tier soccer matches in Austin in the future.
This was the fourth out of 14 matches for the USMNT in the CONCACAF qualification cycle. Other teams in the group are Mexico, Panama, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Jamaica.
These eight teams are fighting for 3.5 spots, meaning the top three finishers advance automatically to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the fourth-place team participates in the inter-confederation playoffs, and the bottom four teams are eliminated.
Since the Oct. 7 match, the USMNT traveled to Panama City and fell 1-0 to Panama on Oct. 10. To close out qualifiers in October, the USMNT secured the 2-1 home victory over Costa Rica in Columbus, OH.
Next up is a key rivalry match against Mexico at the new TQL Stadium in Cincinnati on Nov. 12.