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Ravens official hopes for Gold Cup's return to M&T Bank Stadium

Smaller crowd Saturday doesn't deter Ravens official, Jurgen Klinsmann to call Gold Cup a success.

Despite the crowd being the smallest for an international soccer game in Baltimore in recent years, Ravens senior vice-president and director of stadium operations Roy Sommerhof was pleased with the turnout for Saturday's CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals and seems hopeful that the tournament will return to Baltimore in 2017.

Sommerhof said the state of Maryland has also put in a bid to host games for the 2016 Copa America Cup, which includes 16 teams from North and South America and is scheduled to be played in the United States. According to Somerhof, the state could host up to three games, with M&T Bank Stadium a likely site for at least one of the games.

An announced crowd of 37,994 watched the U.S. beat Cuba, 6-0, at M&T Bank Stadium to advance to Wednesday's Gold Cup semifinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. More than half the crowd stayed to watch a more competitive match between Jamaica and Haiti. Jamaica won, 1-0.

More than 70,000 showed up for the 2013 quarterfinals against El Salvador.

"I think the atmosphere's been great, it was great to see the U.S. soccer team and the supporters they had at M&T Bank Stadium," Sommerhof said. "They kind of came out of the woodwork and really supported the team."

It had been reported that more than 40,000 tickets had been sold as of Friday for the U.S. game, but a combination of the heat (gametime temperature was 91 degrees) and teams with few local fans kept the crowd much smaller than 2013.

Sommerhof said that the Ravens will stay away from scheduling European friendlies in the future if the stadium can attract tournaments such as the Gold Cup.

"There's a really good competitive level here, we think the people who come and see this want to see that," he said.

Sommerhof said that he hoped CONCACAF, in future years, would consider playing the semifinals, or even the final of the Gold Cup, in Baltimore.

"I think we'd certainly entertain later rounds other than the quarters, maybe the semifinals or finals," Sommerhof said. "That decision is not ours, that decision is CONCACAF's. If they feel that we're a good site [Saturday] and two years ago for the quarters, maybe down the road there will a semifinals or finals in our future."

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said the team's past two Gold Cup experiences in Baltimore have been pleasant.

"We really enjoyed every day here, it's an absolutely gorgeous city," Klinsmann said. "The people have treated us great, the venue is great. Tonight, having [nearly] 40,000 people against Cuba is outstanding. It's a growing soccer city. [They've] done a great job with the field as well. We've had some other fields that were not so easy to play. The field today was fine for both sides. We'd love to come back, absolutely."

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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