U.S. To Open WC Qualifying Finals
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ The United States opens the final round of World Cup qualifying at home against Mexico on Feb. 27 or 28 and finishes its schedule at Trinidad and Tobago, where in 1989 the Americans clinched their first berth in 40 years.
FIFA, soccer’s governing body, conducted the draw Sunday, the 11th anniversary of the Americans’ 1-0 win at Trinidad and four days after the U.S. team won 4-0 at Barbados to earn a berth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.
The top three teams will advance to the 32-nation field for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
After the opener against Mexico, the Americans play at Honduras between March 24 and 28 and are host on April 24 or 25 to the winner of the Costa Rica-Guatemala playoff.
The U.S. tea, then plays at Jamaica on June 16 or 17, and returns home to play Trinidad and Tobago on June 19 or 20. Between June 30 and July 4, the U.S. team plays at Mexico.
After a break of nearly two months, the schedule resumes with a home game against Honduras on Sept. 1 or 2 followed by a game at Guatemala or Costa Rica on Sept. 4-5.
The United States is host to Jamaica Oct. 6 or 7 and conclude i with an away game against Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 10 or 11.
Sites for the U.S. home games have not yet been determined by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Among the possibilities already mentioned are Birmingham, Ala.; Columbus, Ohio; Foxboro, Mass.; Portland, Ore.; and Washington.
FIFA said the playoff between Costa Rica and Guatemala, who tied for second behind the United States in semifinal Group E, will be played at Miami’s Orange Bowl between Dec. 16 and Jan. 6.