(ATR) The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) confirms that Cuba will play the United States in Washington, DC on Oct. 11.
The Concacaf office in Miami announced the schedule and venues for the second round of group stage matches of the 2019-2020 Concacaf Nations League this week.
It will be the debut of the USA in the tournament.
The League A, B and C matches are set to take place during the October FIFA match window.
In recent days rumors about the possible withdrawal of Cuba from the competition gained strength on the Island due to the criticisms by the disastrous performance of Cuban football between outrageous defeats and defections.
The crisis deepened when the Cuban Federation could not meet the conditions required in its stadium in Havana to play the home games, which has prevented the Cuban fans supporting their team.
Cayman Islands replaced Havana for the games against Canada (Sept. 10) and the United States (Nov. 19).
Although state authorities and Cuban fans would have wished for Cuba to withdraw from the trip to the United States in fear of a heavy defeat, the failure to send the team without good reason could mean a severe sanction of the Cuban Federation.
For several months the United States Federation has already put up tickets for this match and signed the various advertising contracts with the television stations.
In addition, the United States needs a good result against Cuba in case of a draw with Canada.
USA is the favorite to win group A.
The game against Cuba will be held at Audi Field, the home of the DC United team of Major League Soccer. The venue holds 20,000 spectators and was opened in February 2017.
Cuba will come to this meeting after losing to Canada 6-0 in Toronto and 1-0 in George Town (Cayman Islands).
In Toronto the loss was more bitter as it was accompanied by the escape of five of its best players.
In June, four members of the Cuban national team escaped during the Concacaf Gold Cup in Charlotte, and a month later, another six defected during a stopover at the New York airport on a trip to the Virgin Islands, home of a pre-Olympic tournament.
In the Gold Cup Cuba lost to Mexico (7-0), Canada (7-0) and Martinique (3-0).
More than 50 Cuban soccer players, including two women, have left their national teams since 2002, 11 of them in Canada and the rest in the United States.
This situation in Cuba is unique among the more than 200 national federations in FIFA. Several experts consulted by Around The Rings estimate that the millions of dollars invested by the world football organization on the Island in the last two decades have not achieved the development objective due to the defections.
ABOUT NATIONS LEAGUE
The 2019-2020 Concacaf Nations League kicked off earlier this month with the first six days of group stage matches.
Created to maximize the match dates available within the FIFA international calendar, and as part of a wider strategy to provide more competitive football for all member associations, the Concacaf Nations League group stage will continue play in the FIFA windows of October and November of 2019.
After round-robin play, the four League A group winners will advance to the Concacaf Nations League Finals to crown the first-ever competition champion. The Concacaf Nations League Finals, originally scheduled for March of 2020, will now take place in June.
Additionally, the group winners from League B and League C will be promoted to League A and B, respectively, while the teams at the bottom of League A and League B will be relegated to League B and C, respectively, for the next edition of the Concacaf Nations League.
As confirmed on Sept. 4, the 2019-2020 Concacaf Nations League group stage will serve as the qualifying pathway for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup for all 41 member associations.