United States to face Puerto Rico for first time in May friendly
The United States national team will open its three-game, pre-Copa America Centenario slate of tuneup matches with its first-ever match in Puerto Rico, U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday.
The friendly will take place on May 22 at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon.
The Americans also play Ecuador on May 25 in Frisco, Texas (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2), and Bolivia on May 28 in Kansas City, Kansas, before opening the Copa -- the South American championship which for the first time will be hosted by the U.S. and include five other CONCACAF countries to mark its 100th anniversary -- June 3 against Colombia in Santa Clara, California.
"We are thrilled to be playing Puerto Rico in our first preparation game for the Copa America Centenario," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in a press release. "This will be an important opportunity for our players stay sharp and keep progressing towards our opener against Colombia, and we appreciate all the efforts by the Puerto Rican Football Federation to help organize the match."
Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated U.S. territory since 1898 and has a population of 3.5 million. The island nation, ranked 152nd in the world by FIFA, has been a member of CONCACAF since 1964 but has never before faced the U.S.
Klinsmann will not have his MLS players -- including captain Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) and and active scoring leader Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) available in Bayamon, as they won't be released for pre-tournament duty until after domestic league games on the weekend of May 21-22.
As such, the USMNT will travel to Puerto Rico with only European- and Mexican-based players, including several youngsters who will not be on the squad for Copa America.