CHICAGO (Dec. 1, 2011) â€” Less than six months before the start of its campaign to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Menâ€™s National Team will continue preparations with a pair of international friendlies in January.
The U.S. will host Venezuela on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. MT at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Four days later, the team will be in Panama City, Panama, for its first ever friendly against the familiar regional opponent. Further details on both matches will be available in the near future.
The matches will be the culmination of the annual January camp that is primarily composed of domestic-based players, and the matches do not fall on international fixture dates. The next official FIFA date for international competitions is Feb. 29, 2012.
â€œItâ€™s very important that we start the year off in the right way with a good training camp and two challenging games,â€ said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. â€œWe are going to continue to increase the demands on the players and have them develop a better understanding of how we want to play. Venezuela has done well to start World Cup qualifying and they earned a big victory against Argentina. Panama is a team the players know well from the Gold Cup, and we think traveling to Central America before qualifying is important to give them a taste of what the environment will be like there.â€
Tickets for the game in Arizona start at $22 and go on sale to the public Friday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m. MT through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout metropolitan Phoenix (including Fryâ€™s Marketplace), as well as the University of Phoenix Stadium ticket office (open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form at ussoccer.com or call 312-528-1290. Ultimate Fan Tickets (special VIP packages which include a premium ticket, a custom made official U.S. national team jersey with name and number, VIP access to the field before and after the game, and other unique benefits) are also available exclusively through ussoccer.com.
As a sponsor of U.S. Soccer, VisaÂ® is pleased to offer all Visa cardholders access to an advance ticket sale for this match before the sale to the general public. This advance sale starts Thursday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. MT and runs until Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 a.m. MT at ussoccer.com. Visa will be the only payment method accepted through the Visa presale and is the preferred card of U.S. Soccer. Terms and conditions apply.
Venezuela is off to a fantastic start to its World Cup qualifying effort, sitting level on points with Argentina and Uruguay at the top of the CONMEBOL standings with a 2-1-1 record that includes a 1-0 victory against Argentina. The U.S. and Venezuela have played three times in their history, the United States holding an unbeaten 2-0-1 record. Their last meeting came May 26, 2006, a 2-0 win for the U.S. in the second match of the Send-Off Series for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The University of Phoenix Stadium has hosted one previous match for the U.S. Menâ€™s National Team. On Feb. 7, 2007, more than 62,000 fans watched the U.S. take a decisive 2-0 win against Mexico.
Panama and the United States have never met in a friendly, and this will be only the third meeting on Panamanian soil, where the U.S. has one victory and one draw. The Marea Roja snatched its first win against the United States this past summer during the group phase of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the U.S. rebounding to collect a 1-0 win in the semifinal [Video Highlights]. Overall, the USA has a 7-1-2 record against Panama.
The United States has been drawn into Group A ofÂ CONCACAF Semifinal Round qualifying for the World Cup along with Jamaica, Guatemala, and Antigua and Barbuda. Panama dominated their group in the second round to advance to the semifinal phase, and will compete in Group C with Honduras, Cuba and Canada.