“Haiti is an athletic and quite unpredictable opponent, and will provide a great challenge for our team,” said U.S. MNT Manager Bruce Arena. “The matches with Haiti in southern Florida typically provide a very exciting atmosphere, and it will be a good experience for our players. Against Poland we will be facing a team that has been one of the continent's stronger teams in recent years and who we know well from the 2002 World Cup. Games like these should definitely help us in our ultimate goal of preparing players to play in our upcoming World Cup qualifiers beginning in June.”
Including the USA's scheduled match next Wednesday (Feb. 18) in Holland against the Dutch (live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET), the match against Haiti is one of five games the U.S. will play before it begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at home on June 13. The U.S. will also play games on April 28 and May 26 at sites and against opponents still to be finalized. Following their two-game World Cup qualifying series on June 13 and June 20 against Grenada or Guyana, U.S. Soccer has also scheduled a return domestic match for the U.S. Men against Poland on July 11 at a site yet to be determined.
The U.S. has met Haiti 14 times in their history, and despite holding an overall record of 5-6-3, the teams have played only twice since 1983. The sides’ last meeting also took place at The Orange Bowl, with the U.S. collecting a 3-0 victory in front of 49,000 fans on Feb. 12, 2000, in the opening match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The USA has played nine times at Miami's Orange Bowl, compiling a 2-5-2 lifetime record, which includes a 1-0 loss to Argentina in February of last year. Haiti is one of the USA’s potential opponents in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, with the teams having been drawn into the same bracket. For ticket information on the March 13 matchup with Haiti, please click here.
To meet the U.S. though, Haiti will first have to get past a two-game series with Turks & Caicos Islands in the first round of qualifying on Feb. 18 and Feb. 21, and then a two-game set against Jamaica. Should they win those match-ups, and should the U.S. get past their preliminary round opponent, the teams would meet in the four-team semifinal round qualifying group, which begins in August.
Former U.S. MNT defender Fernando Clavijo leads the Haitian National Team after getting hired in October of 2003. Clavijo registered 61 caps as a defender with the U.S. MNT from 1990-1994 and started three matches during the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Clavijo was also a former MLS coach for the New England Revolution and an assistant for the MetroStars. With Haiti, Clavijo is attempting to spark one of the most dangerous teams in the Caribbean to their second-ever World Cup appearance, having made their World Cup debut in 1974 in Germany.
The home-and-away set of matches against Poland will mark the 13th and 14th meetings between the two teams and will be the first since the Poles handed the U.S. a 3-1 loss at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Daejeon, South Korea that almost kept the U.S. from advancing out of their group and eventually into the quarterfinals. The U.S. holds a 4-7-1 record overall against Poland, but the two sides have only met four times in the past 15 years, each coming away with two victories.
After failing to qualify for the final round of Euro 2004 by coming in third in their qualifying group behind Sweden and Latvia, Poland has bounced back of late with four straight victories. Poland began their winning streak on Nov. 12, 2003, with a 3-1 victory over Italy, their first in 18 years against the soccer powerhouse, and they followed up that historic win with victories against Serbia and Montenegro, Malta and Lithuania over the past two months.
2004 U.S. Men's National Team Schedule
Date Match-Up (Venue Kickoff / TV)
Feb. 18 vs. Holland (Amsterdam ArenA; Amsterdam, Holland 2:30 p.m. ET / ESPN2)
March 13 vs. Haiti (Orange Bowl; Miami, Florida 8 p.m. ET / none)
March 31 vs. Poland (Plock, Poland 1:30 p.m. ET / ESPN2)
April 28 vs. TBD (TBD; United States –)
May 26 vs. TBD (TBD; United States –)
June 13 vs. Grenada or Guyana (TBD; United States –)
June 20 vs. Grenada or Guyana (TBD; Grenada or Guyana –)
July 11 vs. Poland (TBD; United States –)
Coverage of each match available live online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.