U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Returns to Tampa

U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Returns to Tampa

CHICAGO, Ill. - The U.S. Men’s National Team will visit Raymond James Stadium for the first time when they face Ecuador on March 25 at 12 p.m. ET. The match is the first for the United States in Tampa Bay, Fla., in 12 years and will be available for fans live on ESPN2, Galavision and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

The USA-Ecuador game will be played during a FIFA match window which will allow the U.S. to have a full compliment of players available for selection by head coach Bob Bradley as the United States continues to prepare for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America.

Tickets starting at $18 will go on sale Thursday, Jan. 25, at 10 a.m. ET through ussoccer.com, all Bay area Ticketmaster outlets (including the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa Theater, the USF Sun Dome, and FYE stores) and by phone at 831-287-8844. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com.

“With the ability to bring together our full group of players from Europe and MLS, the match against Ecuador will provide an excellent opportunity to prepare for the upcoming tournaments this summer,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “As we all saw in the 2006 World Cup, Ecuador is a great team, and getting matches against quality opponents will only help to strengthen our group. We are looking forward to bringing the national team back to Tampa Bay and the fine facility at Raymond James Stadium.”

The U.S. is currently training in Carson, Calif., in advance of a Saturday, Jan. 20, match vs. Denmark at The Home Depot Center at 2 p.m. PT live on ESPN2. Next for the U.S. will be a Feb. 7 showdown against regional rivals Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Following the Ecuador match, the U.S. will immediately travel to Dallas for a Gold Cup tune-up against Guatemala on March 28 at Pizza Hut Park.

Ecuador, who advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2006 FIFA World Cup before falling to England, has faced the U.S. nine times, and has a 4-1-4 record vs. the U.S. The last meeting between the teams was the first win for the U.S. MNT during the series, a 1-0 victory on March 10, 2002, in Birmingham, Ala., with U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard earning a shutout in his first-ever appearance for the senior team. Eight of the nine previous meetings took place in the United States, with the only match between the teams in Ecuador coming in the 1993 Copa America tournament where the U.S. fell to the hosts 2-0 in Quito.

March 25 will mark the fourth visit for the U.S. Men’s National Team to Tampa Bay, with the last coming on May 28, 1995, when the U.S. lost to Costa Rica at Tampa Stadium. The first appearance for the U.S. in “The Big Guava” was a 1-1 tie with Switzerland in 1985. Overall in Florida, the U.S. has an 11-13-10 record dating back to 1980. Tampa is home to United Soccer Leagues, an organization that operates two professional men’s leagues, the top men’s and women’s amateur leagues and an elite youth system.

“This is a monumental announcement that speaks volumes to the strength of our soccer community in Tampa Bay,” said Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “We truly appreciate the incredible opportunity that the U.S. Soccer Federation has afforded us and we look forward to working diligently to make sure we maximize the first step of this long term partnership.”

Along with a series of friendlies, the United States will compete in two major championships next summer. The three-time champions will first try to defend their title against 11 other teams at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scheduled from June 6-24 in several cities across the United States. Just a few days later, the U.S. will participate in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela. For the United States, the appearance will mark their third entrance into CONMEBOL’s signature event.

U.S. MNT 2007 Schedule
Date Match Venue Kickoff/TV
Jan. 20 USA vs. Denmark Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.) 2 p.m. PT / ESPN2 & Univision (delay)
Feb. 7 USA vs. Mexico Univ. of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.) 7 p.m. MT / ESPN2 & Univision
March 25 USA vs. Ecuador Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay, Fla.) 12 p.m. ET / ESPN2 & Galavision
March 28 USA vs. Guatemala Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas) 8 p.m. CT / ESPN2 & Galavision
June 6-24 CONCACAF Gold Cup United States
June 26-July 15 Copa America Venezuela