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US to host Mexico at Columbus in World Cup qualifying

17 December 2008 02:05

CHICAGO (AFP) - Mexico will face the United States in their 2010 World Cup North American qualifying final round opener at Columbus, Ohio, on February 11, the US Soccer Federation announced Tuesday.

Cold weather can be expected for the matchup, the third time in as many North American final-round qualifying tournaments that the Americans have faced Mexico at the home of the 2008 Major League Soccer champion Columbus Crew.

"We are very excited about returning to Columbus," US coach Bob Bradley said. "We are looking forward to an incredible atmosphere as we continue the difficult task of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."

The Mexicans and Americans figure to be the favorites in the 2009 six-nation round-robin fight for three berths in South Africa with Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago also in the hunt.

The Americans are 3-0 with two drawn in World Cup qualifying matches and 4-0 with three drawn overall at Columbus Crew Stadium. They beat Mexico 2-0 there in frigid conditions in 2001 and again by the same score in 2005.

US officials avoided sending the Mexicans to a warm-weather site or one where they might be expected to have a huge local following, such as Los Angeles or Houston, in hopes of a tactical advantage in cold and maybe snow.

"Our first priority is to give our team the best chance to be successful and achieve the goal of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup," US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said.

"We carefully considered our options and ultimately we felt that playing in Columbus is the right fit for this match."

The Americans are 8-0 with two drawn at home against Mexico since 2000, outscoring Mexico 17-3 on home soil against their border rivals. The Mexicans lead the US team 29-14 with 11 drawn in the all-time rivalry.

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