U.S. Soccer Federation officials initiated discussions with Cuban soccer officials last week in an attempt to arrange a match between the U.S. men's national team and the Cuban team in Havana.
Although a USSF spokesman said the discussions are "very preliminary," since the federation has yet to apply to the Treasury Department for a license to travel to Cuba, the USSF has suggested a match for the summer of 2000.
"We checked with the State Department and they said it was okay," USSF spokesman Jim Moorhouse said. "We just think that this would be the best time for it . . . and Cuba responded enthusiastically."
A U.S. national soccer team hasn't played in Cuba since 1947. The United States has had an economic embargo against Cuba for 37 years.
A boys youth soccer team from Nebraska is playing games in Cuba this week. Former Major League Soccer commissioner Doug Logan, who is with the group, has used the trip to contact Cuban soccer officials on the USSF's behalf.
"It's important for U.S. soccer to get games against teams in other places," Moorhouse said. "We haven't had the best record when we go on the road. But Cuba has always been competitive, and for our players, it would be a good place to play.
"Four years ago, no one would have approached Cuba, but it's changed a bit recently, with the Orioles game earlier this year."
Moorhouse said the Baltimore Orioles' games against the Cuban national squad this spring -- one in Havana, one in Baltimore -- didn't prompt the idea to play Cuba, but those games enhanced the chances that such a match could be arranged. The USSF called the Cuban desk at the State Department this summer with the idea, then faxed an offer to the Cuban national team last week.
USSF Secretary General Hank Steinbrecher was unavailable for comment, as was USSF chief operating officer Tom King.
Moorhouse said the USSF faxed letters to 12 to 15 countries last week with offers to play.