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USWNT to face Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama in 2020 Olympic qualifying

New USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski addresses the pressure of coaching the two-time reigning World Cup winners.

The United States women's national team will begin their road to the 2020 Olympics with matches against Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama next January and February in Houston. 

Those three teams join the U.S. in one of two groups for the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will be contested Jan. 28-Feb. 9. All three U.S. group games will be played at BBVA Stadium in Houston.

Costa Rica is the highest-ranked U.S. group opponent, currently No. 38 in FIFA's world rankings. Panama and Haiti are ranked Nos. 56 and 73, respectively.

Canada, Jamaica, Mexico and Saint Kitts and Nevis compose the other group, which will play its games in Edinburg, Texas.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals in Carson, California.

Unlike World Cup qualifying, in which the top three finishers in the CONCACAF tournament qualify for the World Cup and the fourth-place team retains a chance to qualify through a playoff, only the two finalists in Olympic qualifying will reach the final tournament in Japan next summer.

This will be the seventh consecutive Olympics to include women's soccer. The U.S. is seeking to become the first team to win World Cup and Olympic titles in successive years. It had the same opportunity in the 2016 Olympics but was eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals, the only time the U.S. ever missed the semifinals in a World Cup or Olympics.

The U.S. plays Sweden in a friendly on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, the first game since new boss Vlatko Andonovski was named to replace Jill Ellis as coach. The Americans will then play a friendly against Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida. on Sunday, their last game of the calendar year.

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