By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 24, 2008
CARSON, Calif., Nov. 23 -- With the U.S. national team's World Cup qualifying schedule set, RFK Stadium is among the candidates to host one of five home matches next year, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said.
The Americans will play 10 final-round games between Feb. 11 and Oct. 14: home and away against Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago. Three teams will earn automatic berths in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
In the coming weeks, the USSF will begin weighing options for home games, Gulati said. The favorites are medium-sized stadiums built for soccer and located in areas that might not attract supporters of the visiting team, such as facilities in Salt Lake City, Denver and Columbus, Ohio. In reality, Washington's best hope is to bid for the Trinidad game on April 1.
Washington hosted the U.S. team's semifinal-round qualifier against Cuba last month.
Columbus probably will be awarded the Feb. 11 opener against Mexico -- a cold-weather site that was used in a February 2001 qualifier against the U.S. team's rivals.United Retains Wells
D.C. United exercised the option on goalkeeper Zach Wells's contract, General Manager Dave Kasper said. Wells lost the starting job in August to Louis Crayton and is expected to compete for the backup job when training camp opens in February. . . .
The league has clarified Montreal's expansion bid, saying the effort "did not meet qualifications." On Friday, Commissioner Don Garber said during a news conference that Montreal withdrew from consideration -- a statement that upset backers of the bid. Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami, Portland, Ore., Ottawa and Vancouver, B.C., remain in contention for two expansion teams in 2011. . . .
Forward Reinier Alcantara, one of two Cubans who sought asylum while the national team was in Washington for the World Cup qualifier, completed workouts with Colorado and will report to San Jose on Dec. 1 for a tryout, his representatives said. The Red Bulls also have expressed interest, they said. Teams can submit a claim on Alcantara's MLS rights beginning in two weeks. . . .
Teams must submit their 11-player protected roster list to the league office on Monday in preparation for Wednesday's expansion draft, which will supply the new Seattle franchise with 10 players. . . .
MLS Cup attendance was announced as a sellout, but as is common for the neutral-site title game, there were pockets of empty seats in the main stands. A couple hundred spectators watched from the grassy hill behind the north goal.