For Immediate Release --U.S. to Face Antigua and Barbuda in Opening Match of Semifinal Round Group Play
CHICAGO (Feb. 15, 2012) – The United States will kick off the effort to qualify for its seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup when they host Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 at Raymond James Stadium, marking the first World Cup qualifier in the state of Florida since the USA defeated Mexico 2-1 on Nov. 23, 1980, in Ft. Lauderdale. The semifinal round opener begins at 7 p.m. ET live on ESPN, ESPN3 and the Univision family of networks.
Ticket information will be announced in the near future. To find out when tickets will go on sale, join U.S. Soccer’s ticket alert email list. For the opportunity to purchase tickets for the match against Antigua and Barbuda before the general public, join the U.S. Soccer Supporters Club and earn priority access to the ticket presale.
“Our focus since last summer has been to prepare this team for World Cup qualifying, and we are thrilled that we can start the process in Tampa,” said Klinsmann. “It’s critical that we start qualifying off on the right foot, so to be in a place where the team has had such great support is a huge positive for us. The players always talk about how great the surface is at Raymond James Stadium, so overall we think is the ideal venue.”
The United States has never played against Antigua and Barbuda, which qualified for the Semifinal Round of qualifying for the first time ever after winning Group F with a combined score of 25-3. Along with these two teams, Group A is comprised of Guatemala and Jamaica. Each opponent will meet twice, once at home and once away, in round robin play. The top teams from each of three groups will advance to the Final Round of qualifying, which will take place in 2013. Three teams will automatically qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while the fourth place team will play in a two-leg playoff against the winner of the Oceania region.
The United States will be making its seventh appearance in Tampa dating back to a 1-1 tie with Switzerland in 1985. Overall the U.S. has a 3-2-1 record with wins against Finland (1990), Ecuador (2007) and El Salvador (2010). The 2007 matchup is the most memorable, with 31,547 on hand at Raymond James Stadium to see a magnificent hat trick by Landon Donovan in a 3-1 victory. In 2008, Raymond James Stadium hosted the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team for the group phase of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The U.S. posted a 2-0-1 record against Cuba, Panama and Honduras.
The U.S. will play a series of friendlies in preparation for the start of qualifying, first meeting Scotland on May 26 at EverBank Field. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET, and the match will be shown live on the NBC Sports Network in the channel’s debut broadcast of a U.S. National Team game, as well as the Univision family of networks.
Following the match against Scotland, the U.S. continues its competition against the world’s top teams when they host five-time World Cup champions Brazil on Wednesday, May 30 in Landover, Md. Kickoff for the USA’s first ever match at FedExField is set for 8 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision.
For the last game before the start of World Cup qualifying, the United States will make a rare visit to Canada when it renews the rivalry June 3 at BMO Field in Toronto. Kickoff for the USA’s first match on Canadian soil since 1997 is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.
Fans can follow all the matches live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer.
Contact: U.S. Soccer Communications, 312-808-1300