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U.S. soccer picks last three home venues
February 13th, 2009 7AM



[U.S. SOCCER] Two older, larger stadiums and a smaller, newer facility will host the final three U.S. home matches in the Hexagonal. Rio Tinto Stadium near Salt Lake City, which opened last October, is the venue for a Sept. 5 match against El Salvador that falls between home dates with Honduras -- set for June 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago -- and Costa Rica, which plays the USA at RFK Stadium Oct. 14.

Swapping sites and opponents for the latter two dates would have meant a repeat of the last home qualifying loss for the U.S. In September, 2001, Honduras beat the Americans, 3-2, at RFK, one of the few times in 18 matches the U.S. has lost in that stadium. It has won more games (11) at RFK than at any other venue and three times has drawn crowds for more than 50,000 for qualifiers.

Soldier Field has hosted many international matches, including Mexico friendlies, the 2007 Gold Cup final, and World Cup 1994 games (including the Germany-Bolivia opener), and will stage a U.S. qualifier for the first time. The USA. beat Mexico, 2-1, at Soldier Field in the 2007 Gold Cup final and is 3-3-2 overall. The 2007 Gold Cup final drew a sellout crowd of 60,000.

The Chicago match follows by three days an away game in San Jose, Costa Rica, that was moved up a week - from June 10 to June 3 - to better accommodate the U.S. Confederations Cup schedule, which starts June 15 against Italy in Pretoria, South Africa.

Four years ago, the USA went to Utah for the first time and beat Costa Rica, 3-0, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in front of 40,586 fans. Capacity for Rio Tinto is less than half that (20,000), yet as the seventh of 10 games to be played in the Hexagonal, that match marks the same point at which the USA clinched its spot in the last World Cup by beating Mexico, 2-0.

Next up for the U.S. is a March 28 date in El Salvador, and an April 1 home game against Trinidad & Tobago at LP Field in Nashville.

USA FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule

Feb. 11 USA 2 Mexico 0 in Columbus, Ohio
March 28 at El Salvador
April 1 vs. Trinidad & Tobago Nashville, Tenn.
June 3 at Costa Rica
June 6 vs. Honduras Chicago
Aug. 12 at Mexico
Sept. 5 vs. El Salvador Salt Lake City
Sept. 9
at Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 10 at Honduras
Oct. 14 vs. Costa Rica Washington, D.C.



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