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US men's national team to travel to Cuba for historic friendly in October

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USA will play Cuba in Havana in October – the US men’s national team’s first visit since President Obama announced a thawing of US-Cuba relations.

US Soccer confirmed the friendly match, to be played on 7 October, on Thursday. In 2014, Barack Obama began to restore full relations between the US and Cuba, after more than 50 years of hostility between the two countries.

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

The game, which will be played at Estadio Pedro Marrero in the Cuban capital, comes eight years after the teams previously met in Havana. In 2008, USA beat Cuba 1-0 during qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Clint Dempsey scored the game-winner, and USA qualified for the finals while Cuba departed in the third round.

USA met Cuba in Baltimore at last year’s Gold Cup, and Dempsey scored four as his team won 6-0.

In May, Obama watched the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Cuban national team in Havana in the first game involving a major league team on Cuban soil since 1999. Obama sat with the Cuban leader Raul Castro; the president’s wife and daughters were also at the game.

USA, currently second in their four-team World Cup qualifying group, play St Vincent and the Grenadines on 2 September, and take on Trinidad & Tobago four days later. The final qualifying round of six teams, also known as the Hex, begins in November, with three teams advancing directly to the final tournament in Russia.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th June 2016 22.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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