CHICAGO (January 20, 2005) — Tickets go on sale Friday (January 21) at 10 a.m. CT for the United States Men’s National Team’s first home game of the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, March 30, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
Tickets ranging in price from $18 to $55 will be available online at ussoccer.com, all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix and Coconuts), and by phone at 1-800-277-1700. Groups of 15 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745 ext. 119.
The match in Birmingham is the first of five qualifiers in this round to be played in the United States, and will follow two road qualifying matches for the USA in Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9 and Mexico on March 26 or 27.
The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium for the first time since March 10, 2002, when the U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a World Cup preparation match before 24,133 fans. The team’s only other visit came nearly two years earlier, when the U.S. MNT drew 1-1 with Tunisia in front of 21,637 fans in the team’s first-ever match in Alabama. Birmingham also served as a venue for soccer at the 1996 Olympic Games, where the Bruce Arena-led U.S. Olympic team played two matches at Legion Field, falling to Argentina and topping Tunisia.
The U.S. holds a 7-4-3 lifetime record against Guatemala, including a perfect 6-0-0 mark on U.S. soil. The last time the teams met was during semifinal round qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The teams split points in a 1-1 draw in Mazatenango, Guatemala on July 16, 2000, then Brian McBride tallied the lone goal in the USA’s hard fought 1-0 win on Sept. 3, 2000 at RFK Stadium.
Guatemala is one of the surprises in the final round, finishing tied on points with Costa Rica at the top of Group 2 in the semifinal qualifying round. Guatemala started out strong in group play, taking seven out of nine points from their first three matches. Behind the goal-scoring prowess of Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz, Guatemala held on from there to enter the final round of qualifying for the first time in history. Ruiz, the two-time MLS scoring leader that has amassed 50 goals in only three seasons, has proved virtually unstoppable at the international level by averaging a goal a game in semifinal round play.
Kickoff against Guatemala is set for 7 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and will be shown on taped delay at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT on Telemundo. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
The U.S., along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 9 through Oct. 12, 2005, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 12/13 and Nov. 16 against the fifth-place finisher in Asian qualifying.
U.S. MNT Qualifying Schedule