CHICAGO (AP) – Tickets for the U.S. men's World Cup qualifier against Mexico will be distributed through a random draw because of high interest in the Sept. 10 match in Columbus, Ohio.
US-Mexico is always a big draw, with more than 93,000 turning out for a match at the Rose Bowl during the Gold Cup in 2011. Because Columbus Crew Stadium only seats 22,000, US Soccer was concerned fans would get shut out of tickets if the normal distribution system was used. The draw, which will be held after a pre-sale for priority groups, is designed to ensure tickets go to fans, not brokers or scalpers.
It also prevents a mad rush for tickets as soon as they go on sale.
''US Soccer is taking this unique approach due to the expected high ticket demand,'' US Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement Friday. ''We've seen in the past few cycles that the USA-Mexico match in the final round of World Cup qualifying is by far the most desired ticket, and we wanted to provide as many fans as possible a fair opportunity to secure tickets at face value.''
From July 19-22, fans can apply for up to four tickets. A computer program will then randomly distribute the tickets, weeding out scalpers in the process. Credit cards will only be charged if fans get tickets in the draw.
The Americans currently are atop the six-team CONCACAF qualifying group, with Mexico five points back in third place. The top three teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean automatically advance to next year's World Cup in Brazil, with the fourth-place team facing New Zealand in a playoff.