US national team to play October football friendly in Cuba
Chicago (AFP) – The United States national men’s football team will play its first international friendly in Cuba in nearly 70 years in Havana on October 7, the US Soccer Federation announced Thursday.
The match — which comes as the United States and Cuba pursue a thaw in ties — will be the first American friendly in Cuba since 1947, and only the US team’s second visit to the island since then.
The political rivals also met in Havana in 2008 during qualifying for the 2010 South Africa World Cup, with the US team winning 1-0.
In March, during a visit to Havana, US President Barack Obama attended an exhibition game between Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and Cuba’s national team, the first such visit by a top-level US team since 1999.
US television networks will broadcast the football match live from Estadio Pedro Marrero in English and Spanish.
“We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba,” US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.
“In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity.”
Former German international star Klinsmann guided the Americans to a fourth-place finish at the Copa America Centenario staged in June in the United States.
In June of last year, the second-tier New York Cosmos became the first US club side to play a football match in Cuba since 1978, beating the Cuba national team in Havana.
Before the Americans visit Cuba, they will play two more qualifiers for the 2018 Russia World Cup, visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines on September 2 and playing host to Trinidad and Tobago four days later at Jacksonville, Florida.