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Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 6:38pm
The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team was drawn into Group A of the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will face Canada, Cuba and El Salvador. The teams will play their group matches from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville. The exact schedule and ticket information will be announced in the near future.
The U.S. will be seeking to reach its 14th Olympic Football Final Tournament. The USA's best finish came at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, collecting fourth place.
Group B consists of Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, and will be based at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout phase. The semifinals and final will take place at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., with the two finalists qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London next summer.
"Obviously it's very exciting to finally know our matchups in group play, which allows us to concentrate our preparation even further," said U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter. "Although our primary focus right now is on our own process, this will give us even greater insight into how we will plan for qualifying, especially as the games get closer. We have been gathering information on all of our potential opponents, and now we can isolate our scouting even further. The path to reaching our goal of qualifying for the Olympics is a lot clearer."
Porter will soon announce a roster for a domestic training camp that will be held from Dec. 15-23 in Sarasota, Fla.
"I'm excited. The Olympics are one of the coolest events you can be a part of, and the chance to qualify is something we are taking very seriously," added midfielder Brek Shea, who is age eligible for the U-23 Men's National Team. "I'm looking forward to playing for Caleb Porter and trying to help our team qualify for London. There's a lot of talent available to the U.S. team, so there will be a lot of competition for spots on the roster."
The U.S. and Canada have faced each other in qualifying for five previous Olympics, including the last three straight tournaments. Overall, the U.S. holds a 4-2-1 advantage in Olympic qualifiers, including a 3-0 win at LP Field in the semifinal in 2008 that sent the United States to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The only meeting between the U.S. and Cuba in Olympic Qualifying came in the previous cycle, the teams opening group play with a 1-1 draw on March 11, 2008, in Tampa , Fla.
In qualifying for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the USA and El Salvador played three times, dueling to consecutive 1-1 draws before the U.S. claimed a decisive 1-0 win. The teams wouldn't meet again until 1987, when they played a home-and-away series to qualify for the 1998 Olympics in Seoul. The United States poured in eight goals spanning two games, winning 4-2 in San Salvador before posting a 4-1 victory in Indianapolis.
LP Field in Nashville hosted the semifinal and final of the 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where the United States qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The tournament will kick off in Nashville with a doubleheader on March 22, followed by two more doubleheader match days on March 24 and 26. The Home Depot Center will host doubleheader matches on March 23, 25 and 27. The semifinals will be played in Kansas City on March 31, with the final taking place on April 2.