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USA to open against Dominica or Barbados
by Mike Woitalla, November 26th, 2007 7AM
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The USA will have to play at least 18 games to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. It begins CONCACAF qualifying in June 2008 with a two-game series against Dominica or Barbados.

If the USA advances, and the favorites advance in other early-round CONCACAF playoffs, the USA would face Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala in the semifinal group round. The strongest team the USA could have faced in its first stage of qualifying was El Salvador, which was drawn against Anguilla for the first-round playoff and will face Panama if its advances.

The USA has never played Dominica, a Caribbean nation with a population of 72,000 that is 189th in the FIFA World Rankings. (In qualifying play for the 2006 World Cup, Mexico defeated Dominica 18-0 on aggregate in a two-leg series.)

In the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, the USA defeated Barbados 7-0 at home and 4-0 on the road. Barbados is ranked 124th in the world by FIFA

Also a Caribbean island, Barbados has a population of 280,000. Its greatest soccer success was reaching the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, where it upset Costa Rica but finished last.

In qualifying play for the 2006 World Cup, Barbados was ousted, 5-2, on aggregate by St. Kitts and Nevis in a two-leg series in the second playoff round.

In their playoff series, Guatemala faces the winner of Turks and Caicos Islands-St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago faces the winner of Bermuda-Cayman Islands, and Cuba faces the winner of the Aruba-Antigua and Barbuda.

The top two finishers in each of the three four-team semifinal groups advance to the six-team final round. The CONCACAF region's top three seeds - Mexico, USA and Costa Rica - cannot meet until final-round group play.

The top three finishers in the final-round group qualify for the World Cup finals. The fourth-place team earns a home-and-away playoff with the fifth-place South American team.


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