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USA to host key World Cup qualifier at San Jose

Chicago (AFP) – San Jose was named Sunday by the US Soccer Federation as the site of a crucial World Cup qualifier for the bottom-table Americans against Honduras on March 24.

The US squad opened with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 drubbing at Costa Rica last November, prompting the firing of coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the hiring of Bruce Arena as his replacement.

It will be the first qualifier in this stint as coach for Arena, 65, who guided the Americans to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals and in the 2006 World Cup, where they made a first-round exit.

Three of six teams from the North American region (CONCACAF) hexagonal tournament will advance to next year’s World Cup while a fourth will play a team from another region for another trip to Russia.

Honduras stand fourth in the table after splitting two home ties, beating Trinidad and Tobago but losing to Panama.

The contest at Avaya Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, will be the first final-round World Cup qualifier in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1997 for the US squad.

“This game is very important and we’ve chosen an outstanding venue,” Arena said. “We think it’s a place where we will get fantastic support from the US fans in a game that’s critical for our effort to qualify for Russia in 2018.”

The match will be the first for many top European-based US players under Arena, whose January training camp did not feature players under contract to European clubs.

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