Soccer

U.S. men’s national soccer team to play friendly in Cuba

“We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity.”
“We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity.” AP

Add the U.S. national soccer team to the list of tourists heading to Cuba.

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Thursday that the team will play a friendly against the Cuban national team in Havana on Oct. 7, the Americans’ second visit to the island in 69 years.

It will be the first U.S. game on the island since a World Cup qualifier there in September 2008 and the first friendly against Cuba anywhere since 1947. The match will be televised on ESPN and Univision.

“We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity.”

When they last met in Havana, on Sept. 6, 2008, the U.S. team won 1-0 on a 39th-minute goal by Clint Dempsey. Bob Bradley was the coach then, and Landon Donovan was still on the team. The game was played in front of a crowd of 8,000 at Pedro Marrero Stadium on a soggy field following a torrential downpour about two hours before kickoff.

U.S. players gave the Cuban fans an ovation after the match, and were touched that they had cheered following the U.S. national anthem.

Before that, the previous U.S. game in Havana was 1947. Cuba won 5-2. The New York Cosmos of the NASL beat the Cuban national team 4-1 in an exhibition match in Havana in June 2015. The Cosmos were the first U.S. soccer team to play there since the now-defunct Chicago Sting in 1978.

The U.S. team is expected to spend a few days in Miami training before leaving for the Oct. 7 match.

Klinsmann’s team is coming off a fourth-place finish at Copa America Centenario. The United States continues the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup on Sept. 2 against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and closes out group play Sept. 6 when it hosts Trinidad & Tobago in Jacksonville.

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