US men to play 1st World Cup qualifier in Tampa



CHICAGO (AP) — The United States will open qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Tampa, facing Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 at Raymond James Stadium.

It will be the first World Cup qualifier in Florida since November 1980, when the Americans beat Mexico 2-1 in Fort Lauderdale.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann says a strong start is “critical” in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, and called Raymond James Stadium “the ideal venue.” The U.S. is 3-2-1 in Tampa, including a 3-1 victory over Ecuador in 2007 that drew 31,547 fans. Tampa also hosted the U.S. Under-23 team in qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, with the Americans going 2-0-1 against Cuba, Honduras and Panama.

U.S. Soccer also announced that the Americans will face Scotland in an exhibition May 26 in Jacksonville, Fla.