The U.S. women’s national soccer team will play a World Cup qualifier in Washington this fall, CONCACAF announced Thursday.
FIFA’s top-ranked squad, featuring Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, will visit RFK Stadium on Oct. 20 or 21 as part of an eight-team regional qualifying competition for the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
Three teams will automatically qualify for the 24-nation tournament next summer. A fourth side will enter a playoff against a South American team later in the fall. As the World Cup host, Canada is exempt from the qualifying event.
Qualifying will take place Oct. 15-26 at four MLS venues: RFK; Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.; Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.; and PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The first three locations will host group doubleheaders on consecutive days, ensuring each team appears once in every venue of the group stage. PPL Park will host the semifinals, third-place match and final.
Four Caribbean nations, to be determined next month, will join the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala in the competition.
The United States, which previously appeared at RFK last September for a 7-0 friendly victory over Mexico, is under the coaching guidance of Jill Ellis, a Robinson High School and William & Mary graduate.
The Americans and Mexicans — the only teams in this event to ever qualify for the World Cup — are expected to play in separate first-round groups. The tournament draw will take place Sept. 5 in Miami.
Seeking a seventh consecutive World Cup appearance, the United States should not encounter any trouble in the qualifying tournament. None of the other challengers are ranked in FIFA’s top 20: Mexico is 25th, Costa Rica 40th and Guatemala 76th. At No. 56, Haiti is the highest-ranked Caribbean team. (Canada is ranked No. 7 and, with the automatic berth, will make its sixth World Cup showing.)
The Americans have not lost at home in almost 10 years (74-0-10).
Various Fox Sports outlets will provide live TV coverage of all 16 matches.
Teams already in the World Cup field: Canada, Switzerland, Australia, China, South Korea, defending champion Japan and Thailand. Germany and England are on the brink of qualifying.
CONCACAF’s preliminary schedule:
Oct. 15: Group A doubleheader in Kansas City
Oct. 16: Group B doubleheader in Kansas City
Oct. 17: Group A doubleheader in Bridgeview
Oct. 18: Group B doubleheader in Bridgeview
Oct. 20: Group A doubleheader in Washington
Oct. 21: Group B doubleheader in Washington
Oct. 24: Semifinal doubleheader in Chester
Oct. 26: Third-place match and final in Chester