(Reuters) – U.S. Soccer has selected two cold-weather venues for the men’s national team’s key World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador and Honduras early next year.
The United States, who are second in CONCACAF’s eight-nation qualifying competition that will send the top three to the 2022 World Cup, will play El Salvador on Jan. 27 in Columbus, Ohio and Honduras on Feb. 2 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“As we have seen throughout the qualifying process so far, great stadiums and great atmospheres provide a huge advantage to our team,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said.
“We’ve had fantastic experiences in Columbus and the Twin Cities and look forward to continuing our World Cup Qualifying campaign in front of our fans.”
The chilly conditions will be an abrupt change of scene not only for the visitors but also the hosts, given the USMNT will hold a Dec. 5-18 training camp in Carson, California.
Canada, who hold top spot in CONCACAF’s final round of qualifying with six games to go, beat Mexico 2-1 last week in Edmonton where snow and frigid temperatures may have helped them to victory.
The conditions even became part of the celebrations when Canadian defender Sam Adekugbe dived into one of the many snowbanks lining the side of the pitch.
When asked if Canada’s win over Mexico played into the decision behind the venues for the qualifiers, a U.S. Soccer spokesman said they consider several factors when selecting venues, including weather and location.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed osmond)