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Men to Face Dominica or Barbados in Preliminary World Cup Qualifying in June

CHICAGO (November 25, 2007) — At the FIFA Preliminary Draw for the 2010 World Cup in Durban, South Africa, it was determined that the U.S. Men’s National Team will open their quest to qualify for a sixth consecutive World Cup in June in Group 1 with a home-and-away match series versus the winner of an opening-round series between the nations of Barbados and Dominica. The final match dates in June will be determined in the near future.

The U.S. also learned their three potential opponents in one of the three Semifinal Round groups, where they could face Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba should each country advance out of their early-round mini-groups. Guatemala awaits the winner of Turks and Caicos Islands-St. Lucia in Group 1B, Trinidad & Tobago faces the winner of Bermuda-Cayman Islands in Group 1C, while Cuba meets the winner of the Aruba-Antigua and Barbuda in Group 1D. All the matches in the Semifinal and Final Round will take place on FIFA international calendar dates.

As the top three qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica cannot face one another until the third and final stage of the qualifying competition.

"Certainly we know that Barbados would be the favorite to advance,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley, who finished 2007 with a 12-5-1 record. “We know Barbados from having played against them twice in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. They are a team that typically is physically talented and are starting to have more players competing overseas.

“The experience of a player like Paul Ifill at Crystal Palace continues to make teams like Barbados increasingly difficult to play against as they gain international experience.  It is always important to respect opponents like that.  Their recent efforts in the 2007 Caribbean Cup that included a draw against host Trinidad & Tobago indicate that they are a capable team."

"All the teams in CONCACAF continue to improve, making qualifying for the World Cup increasingly competitive.  The time we have spent in South Africa has given an indication that it will be great World Cup.  It helps set your sights on what you need to do in order to be a part of it.'

The U.S. has never faced Dominica and only played Barbados twice in the Men’s National Team’s 91-year history.

The only meetings between the U.S. and Barbados took place in the Semifinal Round of the 2002 World Cup qualifying in a group that also included Guatemala and Costa Rica. The U.S. dominated both matches, winning 7-0 on Aug. 16, 2000, in Foxboro, Mass., before cruising to a 4-0 victory in the final group match on Nov. 15, a win that booked the USA’s passage to the final phase. 

During the latest World Cup qualifying, Barbados was not as successful as they were eliminated by St. Kitts & Nevis in the second round. Despite the setback, Barbados rebounded in 2007 as they were one of the eight teams that qualified for the finals of the Caribbean Cup.

In qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, Dominica slipped past the Bahamas before running into Mexico. The islanders were outmatched in the two-leg series, falling 10-0 in the opening leg and 8-0 in the following match. Overall, Dominica has only two qualifying victories, both 3-1 away wins in 1996 against Antigua and Barbuda, and in 2004 against the Bahamas.

The U.S. has a more storied history against the three teams it might face in its Semifinal Round group. The U.S. owns a 10-4-5 all-time record (26 goals for, 15 goals against) versus Guatemala, including a 15-game unbeaten streak, and a 4-0-4 record in qualifying. The U.S. squared off against Guatemala in the Final Round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, winning, 2-0, on March 30, 2005, in Birmingham, Ala., behind goals from Eddie Johnson and Steve Ralston. In the away match in Guatemala City, which came on the heels of the World Cup berth-clinching victory over Mexico, the U.S. and Guatemala battled to a scoreless draw.

The U.S. also has an undefeated record in qualifying against Trinidad & Tobago, holding an 8-0-2 record. The two countries last met during qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with the U.S. winning both matches. The first meeting was the opening match of the Final Round and the U.S. got goals from Eddie Johnson and Eddie Lewis for a 2-1 victory in Port of Spain, Trinidad. In the second match, Brian McBride tallied the lone goal in a 1-0 victory in East Hartford, Conn.

The U.S. has only faced Cuba once before in World Cup qualifying, dating back to a two-game series in 1949 that was played in Mexico City, Mexico. The U.S. tied Cuba, 1-1, in their first meeting and then won, 5-2, during a three-team group that also included Mexico. Overall, the U.S. holds a 5-1-1 record against Cuba with 21 goals for and nine goals against.

If the USA and Cuba both advance to the Semifinal Round, their match-up in Cuba will mark the U.S. Men’s National Team’s first visit to the Caribbean country since 1947, when the U.S. fell 2-5 to Cuba on July 20 in Havana.

"We're pretty excited to get the process started.  Now it becomes real," said U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra.  "We've been playing in good competitions over the last year, but starting next year is when it really counts.  We have the outline for World Cup qualifying laid out for us. The coaching staff will start getting prepared, and as players we can look foward to our potential opponents. It's a long road, but the prize at the end is the World Cup and we are anxious to get going."

For the preliminary round, 23 teams were divided into 11 home-and-away series, with St. Vincent and the Grenadines earning a bye to the Second Round. In addition to the United States, the other 11 seeded teams are Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago.

For the Second Round, the 24 remaining teams are paired into 12 home-and-away series, with the winners based on aggregate goals advancing to the Semifinal Round.

The Semifinal Round will take place from August to November in 2008, with the teams divided into three groups of four teams each. Playing a six-game round robin format, the top two finishers from each group will advance to the final six-team group that will be played in 2009. Once again played in a round robin format of 10 games, the top three teams from the six-team group will automatically advance to the 2010 World Cup. The fourth-place finisher will meet the fifth-place team from South America in a home-and-away playoff for the final berth in the finals.

The U.S. was the first team from CONCACAF to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, which was the first time since 1934, and finished first in the Final Round group for the first time in history. During the 18-game qualifying campaign, the U.S. compiled a 12-2-4 record with 10 shutouts. At home, the U.S. went 8-0-1 during 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying, with all eight victories coming by shutout. The U.S. did not give up a goal in the final round on U.S. soil, outscoring their opponents 10-0, while recording multiple goals in four games. 
The United States has appeared in eight World Cup finals since the tournament began in 1930. The U.S. team’s performance reached a pinnacle during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, as the United States advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in 72 years, winning its first-ever match in the knockout phase by defeating Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16 in Jeonju, Korea.

2010 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Draw

Preliminary and Second Round

Preliminary Round (Early 2008)

11 home-and-away series (total goals)
22 Caribbean countries:
  Anguilla Cayman Islands Nicaragua
  Antigua and Barbuda Dominica Puerto Rico
  Aruba Dominican Republic St. Kitts & Nevis
  Bahamas El Salvador St. Lucia
  Barbados Grenada Suriname
  Belize Montserrat Turks & Caicos
  Bermuda Netherlands Antilles U.S. Virgin Islands
  British Virgin Islands    

Second Round (June 2008)
12 home-and-away series (total goals)
12 previously seeded teams:
  Canada Guyana Mexico
  Costa Rica Haiti Panama
  Cuba Honduras Trinidad & Tobago
  Guatemala Jamaica United States
11 winners of Preliminary Round pairing, plus St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Semifinal Round (Aug. 20, 2008 - Nov. 19, 2008)
• Three four-team groups, top two teams in each group advance to Final Round
• 12 winners of Second Round home-and-away series advance to semis
• Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States will be in separate groups, should they advance
• Game Dates:
  • Game 1: Aug. 20 • Game 3: Sept. 10 • Game 5: Oct. 15
  • Game 2: Sept. 6 • Game 4: Oct. 11 • Game 6: Nov. 19

Final Round (Feb 11, 2009 - Oct. 14, 2009)
• One six-team group with the top three advancing to the 2010 World Cup
• The fourth-place team advances to playoff against South American team
• Game Dates:
  • Game 1: Feb. 11 • Game 5: June 10 • Game 8: Sept. 9
  • Game 2: Mar. 28 • Game 6: Aug. 19 • Game 9: Oct. 10
  • Game 3: Apr. 1 • Game 7: Sept. 5 • Game 10: Oct. 14
  • Game 4: June 6