November 22, 2008
MEXICO IN THE WINTER (AGAIN)
U.S. to host archrivals in WCQ on Feb. 11
Johannesburg, South Africa. ---The United States will continue its bid to qualify for its sixth consecutive World Cup finals on Feb. 11 against Mexico at home. The final round draw for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying was announced from Johannesburg, South Africa Saturday morning.
The U.S. hosted Mexico in Columbus, Ohio during 2002 World Cup qualifying in February, when the Americans prevailed, 2-0.
The U.S., along with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Trinidad & Tobago, will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 11-Oct. 14, 2009, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 14 and Nov. 18 against the fifth-place finisher in South American qualifying.
“Certainly when you look at the schedule and see we start at home to Mexico and our last game is home to Costa Rica, then things have fallen quite nicely,” U.S. national coach Bob Bradley told Reuters.
Drawn as Team 6 in the Final Round format, the U.S. faces a tricky road to South Africa as they open up against its biggest rival in the region at home and never has any consecutive home dates. The U.S. plays a fairly balanced schedule, bouncing between home and away matches, only to have back-to-back away games late in the qualifying stretch for Matches 8 and 9. Venues for the USA’s five home matches will be announced as they are finalized.
All of the match dates for Final Round qualifying are scheduled to take place on dates set aside for international play on the FIFA Coordinated Calendar for 2009.
After playing Mexico, the U.S. kicks off their away schedule of the qualifying campaign against El Salvador on March 28, and then returns home on April 1 to face Trinidad & Tobago. The halfway point for the Hexagonal arrives in June, with the U.S. facing Costa Rica away on June 3 and then returning to the U.S. to host Honduras on June 6, which will complete the first half of the Final Round. The Costa Rica match was moved from June 10 to June 3 to accommodate the U.S.'s participation in the Confederations Cup.
The second stand-alone date of the Final Round falls on Aug. 12 with the U.S. traveling to Mexico. The U.S. will have two straight double dates, starting with hosting El Salvador on Sept. 5 before heading to Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 9. The three teams that will automatically advance to the World Cup will be decided on the final double date, which begins for the United States on Oct. 10 away to Honduras. The U.S. concludes the final round on Oct. 14 at home against Costa Rica.
The United States has qualified for five consecutive World Cup finals, amassing a lifetime record of 53-31-28 in World Cup qualifying play. With a record of 34-6-11 on U.S. soil, the team has lost only one home qualifier since 1985.