Havana friendly between the U.S. and Cuba announced

Posted: 08-Jul-16 10:01

In a further show that diplomatic relations are easing between the United States and Cuba, the U.S. men's national team recently announced the two teams would play in Havana this autumn. This marks the first game in Cuba between the teams since the announcement 18 months ago that began normalizing relations between the countries.

Havana friendly between the U.S. and Cuba announced

On the heels of more and more American travellers making their way to Cuba comes a major announcement from U.S. Soccer. A recently published article by The Guardian confirms that the U.S. men’s national team is scheduled to play a friendly against Cuba in Havana this autumn.

Set for 7 October, the game is seen by some as a big step in the further easing of decades-long travel restrictions and diplomatic constraints between the two countries. It is the first U.S. men’s national team game in Cuba since the American and Cuban governments began the effort of restoring relations 18 months ago. The U.S. men’s team last played Cuba in Baltimore last year for the Gold Cup when USA advanced with a 6-0 win. The last time the Americans played in Havana, though, was in 2008. In that matchup USA won 1-0, qualifying for South Africa’s 2010 World Cup.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann appears optimistic about the game and what it means to the U.S. men’s national team. He declared:

“We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba. In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity.”

While certainly significant this is not the first major U.S. team to play in Cuba. The article points out that back in May the Tampa Bay Rays played in Havana against the Cuba national team, marking the first American major league team to play in Cuba in more than 15 years. For that occasion President Obama and his family joined Cuban leader Raul Castro in attendance to watch the game. In addittion, the Coastal Carolina University basketball team travelled to Havana for an international exhibition game in August of 2015.

The U.S. and Cuban men’s teams are scheduled to play the friendly at Pedro Marrero stadium in Havana. The matchup is planned several weeks after USA takes on St Vincent and the Grenadines in early September, followed up by a game against Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. team is currently ranked in second place in its World Cup qualifying group of four teams. The final qualifying round for six teams is set for November. The top three teams will head to the finals in Russia.


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