TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa will once again welcome the US Men’s National Soccer Team on June 8, 2012 as they kick off the effort to qualify for their seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup. The US team will take on Antigua and Barbuda 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.
Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission Rob Higgins stated, “we couldn’t be more excited about today’s announcement, which serves as a testament to Tampa Bay’s longstanding soccer tradition. Being the first Florida community in over 30 years to host a World Cup Qualifier is a privilege and opportunity that we don’t take lightly.”
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 semifinal round opener begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN3 and the Univision family of networks. Ticket information will be announced in the near future, but for fans can join U.S. Soccer’s ticket alert email list for the latest updates (http://www.ussoccer.com/Community/e-Supporters-Club.aspx).
Additionally, fans can join the U.S. Soccer Supporters Club for the opportunity to purchase tickets for the match against Antigua and Barbuda before the general public and earn priority access to the ticket presale.
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.
Fans can follow all the matches live online via MatchTracker at www.ussoccer.com and on Twitter at @ussoccer.
Media contact is Travis Claytor, communications manager for Tampa Bay & Company, at 813-342-4052 orTClaytor@VisitTampaBay.com.