Soccer: U.S. to meet Cuba in first friendly in 69 years

Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:09pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The U.S. men's national soccer team will play their first friendly against Cuba in 69 years when they meet in Havana's Estadio Pedro Marrero on Oct. 7, U.S. Soccer said on Thursday.

Their only other soccer visit to Cuba during that span was a 1-0 win for the U.S. in September 2008 during the semi-final round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a statement.

"In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity."

The friendly comes as the two countries work toward normalizing relations and follows an exhibition baseball game between the Cuban national team and Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana in March.

The baseball game coincided with U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba.

Having finished fourth in this month's Copa America Centenario, the U.S. will continue the semi-final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Sept. 2 against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The U.S. team will complete group play on Sept. 6 when they host Trinidad & Tobago at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

Jun 21, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; United States starting players pose for a team picture before a match against Argentina in the semifinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports