U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team to Face Canada, Cuba and El Salvador in Group A of 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
U.S. Group Games Will be Played at LP Field in Nashville; Olympic Qualifying Tournament to Take Place from March 22-April 2 and Will Send Two Teams to 2012 Olympic Games in London Next Summer
CHICAGO (Dec. 8, 2011) â€” The U.S. Under-23 Menâ€™s National Team was drawn into Group A of the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will open group play against Cuba on March 22 at 8 p.m. CT. The USA will face Canada on March 24 at 6 p.m. CT, and then close out group action against El Salvador on March 26 at 8 p.m. CT. All of the Group A matches will be played as doubleheaders at LP Field in Nashville.
Group B, consisting of Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, will follow a similar format at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The semifinal matches that will determine the two entrants from CONCACAF to the 2012 Olympic Games in London will be played Saturday, March 31 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. CT at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. Should the U.S. advance and finish in first place in Group A, they will play in the second match. The championship game will be played Monday, April 2 at 7 p.m. CT.
The U.S. will be seeking to reach its 14th Olympic Football Final Tournament. The USAâ€™s best finish came at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, collecting fourth place.
Series tickets for the group matches in Nashville and Carson, Calif., go on sale Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 10 a.m. local time in each market. A series ticket consists of a ticket for each event scheduled at a single venue. Fans can order Nashville and Los Angeles series tickets online at ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, at local Ticketmaster ticket centers in the venue cities, and at the respective stadium ticket offices during their local business hours. Individual tickets for each event (all doubleheaders except for the final) will go on sale at a later date, pending availability. Details regarding series tickets for the all-important elimination rounds in Kansas City will be made available in the near future.
â€œObviously it's very exciting to finally know our matchups in group play, which allows us to concentrate our preparation even further," said U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter. "Although our primary focus right now is on our own process, this will give us even greater insight into how we will plan for qualifying, especially as the games get closer. We have been gathering information on all of our potential opponents, and now we can isolate our scouting even further. The path to reaching our goal of qualifying for the Olympics is a lot clearer."
As part of preparations for qualifying, U.S. Under-23 Menâ€™s National Team head coach Caleb Porter announced a 28-player roster that will train from Dec. 15-23 at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
â€œIâ€™m excited. The Olympics are one of the coolest events you can be a part of, and the chance to qualify is something we are taking very seriously,â€ added midfielder Brek Shea, who is age eligible for the U-23 Menâ€™s National Team. â€œIâ€™m looking forward to playing for Caleb Porter and trying to help our team qualify for London. Thereâ€™s a lot of talent available to the U.S. team, so there will be a lot of competition for spots on the roster.â€
The U.S. and Canada have faced each other in qualifying for five previous Olympics, including the last three straight tournaments. Overall, the U.S. holds a 4-2-1 advantage in Olympic qualifiers, including a 3-0 win at LP Field in the semifinal in 2008 that sent the United States to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The only meeting between the U.S. and Cuba in Olympic Qualifying came in the previous cycle, the teams opening group play with a 1-1 draw on March 11, 2008, in Tampa , Fla.
In qualifying for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the USA and El Salvador played three times, dueling to consecutive 1-1 draws before the U.S. claimed a decisive 1-0 win. The teams wouldnâ€™t meet again until 1987, when they played a home-and-away series to qualify for the 1998 Olympics in Seoul. The United States poured in eight goals spanning two games, winning 4-2 in San Salvador before posting a 4-1 victory in Indianapolis.
LP Field in Nashville hosted the semifinal and final of the 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where the United States qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games.