The U.S. Men’s National Team returns to Florida for two critical matches heading into this summer as part of a five-match stretch that includes the start of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The U.S. will face Scotland on May 26 in Jacksonville, Fla. Kickoff at EverBank Field is set for 8 p.m. ET.
“Jacksonville has an amazing facility and is the perfect place for us to begin our important summer schedule,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “We are excited to bring the U.S. National Team back to a part of the country we haven’t visited in many years. It’s fantastic that we can continue to give fans in different parts of the country the chance to share in the journey.”
The United States will kick off the effort to qualify for its seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup when they host Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 at Raymond James Stadium, marking the first World Cup qualifier in the state of Florida since the USA defeated Mexico 2-1 on Nov. 23, 1980, in Ft. Lauderdale.
“Our focus since last summer has been to prepare this team for World Cup qualifying, and we are thrilled that we can start the process in Tampa,” said Klinsmann. “It’s critical that we start qualifying off on the right foot, so to be in a place where the team has had such great support is a huge positive for us. The players always talk about how great the surface is at Raymond James Stadium, so overall we think it is the ideal venue.”
The U.S. has played Scotland six times in its history, holding a lifetime record of 1-3-2 in a series dating back to 1949. The teams last met on U.S. soil in the USA’s final preparation match before the 1998 FIFA World Cup, playing to a scoreless draw on May 30, 1998, in Washington, D.C. The Tartan Army narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2012 European Championship from a group that included defending FIFA World Cup champion Spain. Scotland’s strike force includes Kris Boyd, the all-time leading goalscorer in the Scottish Premier League who recently signed with the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer.
Jacksonville will host a U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time since Feb. 6, 1999, when the USA recorded a massive upset of defending European Champion Germany with a 3-0 victory.
The United States has never played against Antigua and Barbuda, which qualified for the Semifinal Round of qualifying for the first time ever after winning Group F with a combined score of 25-3. Along with these two teams, Group A is comprised of Guatemala and Jamaica. Each opponent will meet twice, once at home and once away, in round robin play. The top teams from each of three groups will advance to the Final Round of qualifying, which will take place in 2013. Three teams will automatically qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while the fourth place team will play in a two-leg playoff against the winner of the Oceania region.
The United States will be making its seventh appearance in Tampa dating back to a 1-1 tie with Switzerland in 1985. Overall, the U.S. has a 3-2-1 record with wins against Finland (1990), Ecuador (2007) and El Salvador (2010). The 2007 matchup is the most memorable, with 31,547 on hand at Raymond James Stadium to see a magnificent hat trick by Landon Donovan in a 3-1 victory. In 2008, Raymond James Stadium hosted the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team for the group phase of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The U.S. posted a 2-0-1 record against Cuba, Panama and Honduras.
Following the match against Scotland, the U.S. continues its competition against the world’s top teams when they host five-time World Cup champion Brazil on Wednesday, May 30 in Landover, Md. Kickoff for the USA’s first-ever match at FedExField is set for 8 p.m. ET.
For the last game before the start of World Cup qualifying, the United States will make a rare visit to Canada when it renews the rivalry June 3 at BMO Field in Toronto. Kickoff for the USA’s first match on Canadian soil since 1997 is set for 7 p.m. ET.