Football
Associated Press 117d

Orlando to host USMNT's final home World Cup qualifier in March

The United States men's national team will play its final home World Cup qualifier at Orlando, Florida, on March 27 against Panama.

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Wednesday that the match will be at Exploria Stadium, where the Americans beat Panama 4-0 on Oct. 6, 2017, also their next-to-last qualifier.

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Needing only a draw in their finale to qualify, the U.S. lost 2-1 four days later at Trinidad and Tobago, and the Americans' streak of seven straight World Cup appearances was stopped.

The U.S. is 4-0 at Exploria, which has a capacity of 25,500 and opened in 2014. This game against Panama is between qualifiers on March 24 at Mexico and March 30 at Costa Rica, where the Americans have nine losses and one draw in qualifying.

The Americans lost 4-0 in their last qualifier at Costa Rica in November 2016, causing the USSF to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann and bring back Bruce Arena.

The U.S. is second in qualifying with 15 points after eight games, one point behind Canada. Mexico and Panama have 14 points each, followed by Costa Rica (nine), Jamaica (seven), El Salvador (six) and Honduras (three).

The Americans play El Salvador on Jan. 27 at Columbus, Ohio, Canada three days later at Hamilton, Ontario, and Honduras on Feb. 2 at St. Paul, Minnesota.

The top three nations qualify for this year's World Cup in Qatar, and the fourth-place team advances to a one-game playoff in June against the Oceania champion, likely New Zealand.

In related news, CONCACAF announced that it would implement Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for the remaining qualifying matches. 

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