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Columbus Crew Stadium to Host Important World Cup Qualifier Against Mexico on February 28

CHICAGO (Tuesday, December 5, 2000) - The United States will open the final qualifying round on the road to the 2002 World Cup with a match against Mexico at 7:30 p.m. ET on February 28, 2001 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, it was confirmed today by U.S. Soccer. The match will be shown live to a national television audience on ESPN2.

The February 28 match will mark the start of a year-long, ten-game qualifying schedule for the United States, after which CONCACAF's representatives for the next World Cup will be determined. The top three finishers from the six-team group, which includes Honduras, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and either Guatemala or Costa Rica in addition to the U.S. and Mexico, will advance to the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.

The United States will return to the home of Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew for the second time, having previously battled Costa Rica to a 0-0 draw in the semifinal round before an overflow, pro-American crowd of 24,430 on October 11, 2000. Columbus Crew Stadium, the first major-league stadium built specifically for soccer in the United States, has a capacity of 22,555 and opened on May 15, 1999.

"The selection of Columbus Crew Stadium as the venue for the Mexico match makes perfect sense," head coach Bruce Arena noted. "The facilities are first-rate, and we can be sure of having a vocal crowd supporting our effort."

The United States last met Mexico in World Cup qualifying before the 1998 World Cup, when the two played to a 2-2 tie at Foxboro Stadium on April 20, 1997, and to a scoreless tie at Mexico City on Nov. 2, 1997. The last time the United States beat Mexico in a World Cup qualifier was before the 1982 tournament, a 2-1 win at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Nov. 23, 1980.

The two border rivals squared off two times in 2000, as the USA defeated Mexico twice in a calendar year for the first time and posted a pair of shutout wins, 3-0 in the final game of Nike U.S. Cup at Giants Stadium and 2-0 before 61,072 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 25.

The U.S. Men concluded the semifinal round of regional qualifying for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan by defeating Barbados in November, capturing the top spot in Group E and ending the year with five consecutive shutouts and a 9-2-6 record.

U.S. Soccer supporters and Columbus Crew Season Ticket holders who have renewed their tickets for the 2001 season will have first priority to purchase seats before tickets go on sale to the general public. Ticket prices for the match will be $45, $35 and $28 respectively and will go on sale to the general public on January 19, 2001 should they still be available.