American soccer got a boost in the 2002 World Cup, when the United States shocked Portugal, Mexico and the world in general by advancing to the quarterfinals. Landon Donovan went on to become a star for the Los Angeles Galaxy, where his teammate is David Beckham.
The biggest sports event in the world could be headed back to North Texas.
Dallas-Fort Worth is one of 18 U.S. metro areas to be included in the United States' official bid book for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022.
Dallas was one of the nine host cities when the tournament came to the United States for the first time in 1994. Six matches were played at the Cotton Bowl.
U.S. soccer officials say the United States is a good candidate to host another World Cup because of its huge stadiums.
North Texas now has two such premier venues -- the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
"It's exciting to think that our venue could potentially be the host for an event like the World Cup in 2018 or 2022," said Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels.
"With the field, the suites that we have available to us, the capacity of the building and then the ability to control the temperature so on those July days when we have the soccer games going, we'll have the air conditioner blowing, and everyone can play in comfort," Daniels said.
Only venues with a capacity of more than 80,000 can host the opening game or the final match of the tournament.
"There aren’t many places in the United States that can bring that kind of crowd in here, and then to be able to do it in a state-of-the-art facility with our video board, the climate control, I think it should put us up at the front for hosting that game," Daniels said about Cowboys Stadium.
The new stadium has already hosted world-class soccer matches with the Gold Cup and the Americas Cup.
"We have to put in a grass field for the matches, but we showed we are capable of that," Daniels said. "I think what it also showed between the Gold Cup and the Americas Cup was the capabilities of the venue and the ability to bring in that kind of a soccer crowd -- the excitement, the level of enthusiasm and to show the world that was watching just what kind of support for soccer there is here and what this venue would be like to have 80,000 to 85,000 screaming fans cheering on their favorite soccer teams."
The bid book will be submitted to the international soccer governing body in May 2010 for a December 2010 decision. The 18 cities will help plan September site visits from FIFA reps.
If the United States wins either the 2018 or 2020 bid, games can be played at venues in all 18 cities.
"The United States is equipped and ready to offer FIFA the opportunity to host a passionate and successful World Cup where fans, teams, partners and media can experience the beautiful game at its highest level, while allowing the world soccer family to focus on the utmost mission of the game that benefits the world as a whole," said Sunil Gulati, chairman of the USA Bid Committee and president of U.S. Soccer.
Along with DFW, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Tenn., New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, Fla., and Washington D.C. will be included in the bid book.
"By virtue of the quality of our cities and stadiums, it was very difficult to reduce the field to the maximum of 18 established by FIFA," said David Downs, executive director of the USA Bid Committee. "We consider it a meaningful indicator of the significant growth of soccer in this country that we can put forth such a technically sound bid without four cities that served as hosts for the first FIFA World Cup in the United States in 1994. The emergence of passionate followings for the sport and state-of-the-art venues throughout the country has strengthened our ability to put together a truly national bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022."
In 1994, games were played at venues in nine metro areas -- Los Angeles (the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.), Detroit (the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.), San Francisco (Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Calif.), East Rutherford, N.J. (Giants Stadium), Orlando (the Citris Bowl), Chicago (Soldier Field), Dallas (the Cotton Bowl), Boston (Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.) and Washington, D.C. (RFK Stadium).