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SOCCER

BMO Field to host Gold Cup doubleheader

By Kurt Larson, Toronto Sun

BMO Field before the renovation groundbreaking ceremony on September 23, 2014. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

BMO Field before the renovation groundbreaking ceremony on September 23, 2014. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

Toronto's BMO Field will host Costa Rica on July 14.

Canada's national soccer stadium on Tuesday was named one of 13 venues for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup and will see Costa Rica, a quarterfinalist at last year's World Cup, headline a doubleheader.

It's the first time Canada will host the confederation's most prestigious tournament, which will serve as a qualifier for the 2016 Copa America Centenario.

"Today marks another great step in Canada's development to become a leading soccer nation and we would like to thank CONCACAF for the opportunity to have such a marquee event played on Canadian soil," Canadian Soccer Association Victor Montagliani said. "Canadian soccer fans have always taken great pride in showing their support for Canada during this key tournament, traveling across the region to represent our country."

Joining Toronto as host cities for the group phase of the competition are Dallas, L.A., Chicago, Boston, Houston, Phoenix, Kansas City and Charlotte. It was also determined that Philadelphia, New York City, Atlanta and Baltimore will host matches during the knockout phase.

The United States (Group A), Costa Rica (Group B) and Mexico (Group C) have been chosen as top seeds based on the FIFA world ranking.

A draw will be held in early 2015 to determine which teams will be drawn into the aforementioned groups.

Qualified teams include Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Cuba. Honduras and French Guyana are scheduled to meet in a playoff series in March to determine which country will secure the final spot.

"The explosive growth of the game across CONCACAF has been on display recently on the world's stage, and we now look forward to bringing this success home to our regional fans during our premier tournament," CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said.

Currently 110th in the world, Canada will be hoping to secure one of two remaining spots in the 2016 Copa America Centenario, an event the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and Jamaica have already qualified for.

The next two finishers in the 2015 Gold Cup (other than those already qualified) will secure coveted spots in what will be one of the biggest competitions outside the World Cup.

Mexico leads all Gold Cup participants with six championships, followed by the United States with five.

Canada is the only other country to win the event when it shocked invitee Colombia in 2000.

BMO Field is currently undergoing renovations to expand the stadium from 22,000 to 30,000 seats in time for next summer's Pan Am Games.

Phase 1 of the construction project is expected to be completed in May.

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