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December 1, 2011
U.S. to play Venezuela, Panama

CHICAGO - The United States National Team will begin preparation for World Cup quaifying with a pair of international friendlies in January.

The U.S. will host Venezuela on Jan. 21 at 9 p.m. ET (7:00 pm local time) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Four days later, the team will be in Panama City, Panama, for its first ever friendly against the familiar regional opponent.

The matches will be the culmination of the annual January camp that is primarily composed of domestic-based players, and the matches do not fall on international fixture dates. The next official FIFA date for international competitions is Feb. 29, 2012.

"It's very important that we start the year off in the right way with a good training camp and two challenging games," said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "We are going to continue to increase the demands on the players and have them develop a better understanding of how we want to play. Venezuela has done well to start World Cup qualifying and they earned a big victory against Argentina. Panama is a team the players know well from the Gold Cup, and we think traveling to Central America before qualifying is important to give them a taste of what the environment will be like there."

Venezuela is off to a fantastic start to its World Cup qualifying effort, sitting level on points with Argentina and Uruguay at the top of the CONMEBOL standings with a 2-1-1 record that includes a 1-0 victory against Argentina. The U.S. and Venezuela have played three times in their history, the United States holding an unbeaten 2-0-1 record. Their last meeting came May 26, 2006, a 2-0 win for the U.S. in the second match of the Send-Off Series for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The University of Phoenix Stadium has hosted one previous match for the U.S. Men's National Team. On Feb. 7, 2007, more than 62,000 fans watched the U.S. take a decisive 2-0 win against Mexico.

Panama and the United States have never met in a friendly, and this will be only the third meeting on Panamanian soil, where the U.S. has one victory and one draw. The Marea Roja snatched its first win against the United States this past summer during the group phase of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the U.S. rebounding to collect a 1-0 win in the semifinal. Overall, the USA has a 7-1-2 record against Panama.

The United States has been drawn into Group A of CONCACAF Semifinal Round qualifying for the World Cup along with Jamaica, Guatemala, and Antigua and Barbuda. Panama dominated their group in the second round to advance to the semifinal phase, and will compete in Group C with Honduras, Cuba and Canada.

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