The US men’s national team will open their eventful 2020 with January camp in a new and distant locale, then close the month in a very familiar one.
The USMNT will host Costa Rica at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on Feb. 1 in their first match of the year, U.S. Soccer announced on Monday, capping the traditional January camp with a friendly at the home of the LA Galaxy.
The bulk of the camp itself, however, will take place in Qatar, to give players and staff an early taste of the site of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Word of the program’s selection of the Middle East nation as a camp location was first reported by Yahoo!’s Doug McIntyre in September.
“Our priority is to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, so it’s certainly a big benefit to get a head start on experiencing the facilities, environment and culture of the tournament hosts,” said USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter in a statement. The USMNT held similar camps prior to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
The team will take part in training and closed-door scrimmages from Jan. 5-25 at the Aspire Academy in Doha, then jet home to Southern California to face their old Central American rivals. Tickets for USMNT-Costa Rica go on sale to the general public on Friday; the match will be broadcast on ESPNews, UniMas and TUDN, with coverage beginning at 3:55 pm ET.
It’s the first step in preparing for a 2020 agenda that includes Concacaf Nations League semifinal action in June and the start of World Cup qualifying in September. The USMNT also announced earlier this month that they will travel to Europe for two friendlies during the March international window, vs. the Netherlands and an opponent yet to be confirmed.
“The chance to play against a likely World Cup qualifying opponent is fantastic,” said Berhalter. “As we continue to develop, it’s important to challenge our group against a variety of different opponents. At the end of a January camp, we want the players to have a chance to put all the work to the test.”