US confirms January friendlies vs. Venezuela, Panama

It’s finally official.

US Soccer on Thursday confirmed the long-rumored USMNT matches scheduled for January 2012. The first match features Venezuela on January 21 in Glendale, Ariz., followed by a road match against Panama in Panama City four days later.

The two games will wrap up Jurgen Klinsmann’s first January camp at the helm of the US national team. The traditional two-week training camp gathers many MLS-based players since the matches coincide with the MLS offseason and do not fall on FIFA fixture dates.

The US are unbeaten all-time against Venezuela (2-0-1) but this Vinotinto side is arguably the best in the nation’s history, recently defeating Argentina in South American World Cup qualifying and standing at the top of the CONMEBOL table. Chivas USA forward Alejandro Moreno is a regular call-up for Venezuela and he was part of the team's semifinal run at the 2011 Copa América.

The University of Phoenix Stadium will host the match (9 pm ET) with tickets going on sale on Thursday, Dec. 8, in a special one-day presale window.

There has never been a friendly match between the USA and Panama, a country against which the Americans have compiled a 7-1-2 record all-time. The one loss for the USMNT came this past summer during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a 2-1 setback in group stage play. The USA would later exact revenge with a 1-0 semifinal victory.

"We are going to continue to increase the demands on the players and have them develop a better understanding of how we want to play,” Klinsmann said in a statement issued by the USSF. “Venezuela has done well to start World Cup qualifying and they earned a big victory against Argentina. Panama is a team the players know well from the Gold Cup, and we think traveling to Central America before qualifying is important to give them a taste of what the environment will be like there."

The matches will come less than six months before the USMNT’s 2014 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying debut on June 8 against Antigua and Barbuda and June 12 in Guatemala in Group A. Jamaica were also drawn in the group.