The U.S. Men’s National Team will begin their journey towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup next June when they begin play in Group A of Semifinal Round qualifying in CONCACAF.
Along with the U.S., Group A is comprised of Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala and Jamaica. Each opponent will meet twice, once at home and once away, in round robin play. The USA’s opening match in group play will take place on June 8, 2012, against first-time semifinalists Antigua and Barbuda. Four days later, the U.S. will play away against Guatemala.
On the third and fourth match days, the U.S. will play a home-and-home series against Jamaica. The U.S. will be away to Jamaica on Sept. 7, and then host the Reggae Boyz on Sept. 11 four days later. The final two-game fixture date will take the U.S. to Antigua and Barbuda on Oct. 12 for the first time. Four days later, the U.S. will finish the Semifinal Round with a home match on Oct. 16 against Guatemala.
“We’re excited to know the beginning of our path to qualify for the World Cup,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “We know it is going to be a great challenge. I am very pleased with the progress the team is making. There is a great spirit and a willingness to learn in this group, and I know that we will be ready.”
The group winner and group runner-up advance to the Final Round, which will take place in 2013 and feature a group of six teams. Group B consists of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guyana and Mexico, while Group C is comprised of Canada, Cuba, Honduras and Panama.
The U.S. defeated Guatemala in both matches during the Semifinal Round of the 2010 World Cup qualifying cycle. Carlos Bocanegra provided the first-ever away qualifying victory for the U.S. in Guatemala with a game-winning header in the 1-0 win in Guatemala City. The U.S. also won the return leg at home to increase their all-time record against Guatemala to 12-4-5.
While the U.S. holds an unbeaten 10-0-8 record against Jamaica, the U.S. has never defeated the Reggae Boyz in Jamaica during World Cup qualifying in four attempts, drawing each time. In the teams’ latest meeting in the quarterfinals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup in June, the U.S. got goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey for a 2-0 victory.
The MNT has never played against Antigua and Barbuda, which qualified for the Semifinal Round for the first time ever after winning Group F with a combined score of 25-3.
Each of the Semifinal Round group winners and runners-up make up the well-known Hexagonal that determines which CONCACAF nations qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The top three teams from round robin play will book their place in Brazil, with the fourth place team playing a home-and-away intercontinental playoff against a team from Oceania. The USA has finished first in the Hexagonal during the past two FIFA World Cup cycles.
The locations and venues for the U.S. home games in the Semifinal Round will be announced at a later date.