The Valley will be Soccer Central in America in January 2012, with the U.S. men's national team headed to the Phoenix area for an international friendly against Venezuela on Jan. 21 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that the Yanks will host the Vinotinto at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21, the culmination of a team camp that will be made up of primarily domestic-based players. That means fans could see Landon Donovan, a previous World Cup hero and star of the 2011 Major League Soccer champion Los Angeles Galaxy, along with other MLS players who have earned USMNT caps such as Brek Shea from FC Dallas, Juan Agudelo from the New York Red Bulls and many others.
The match precedes the arrival of several MLS clubs for preseason training in Arizona, with teams coming in for stints in January and February 2012.
Venezuela is widely viewed as more of a baseball nation, but its soccer team is no slouch. It is currently tied for first place in the South American soccer federation's World Cup 2014 qualifying standings with powerhouses Argentina and Uruguay.
The U.S. opens World Cup qualifying in its region, CONCACAF, later in 2012. The Venezuela match is among those viewed as a tune-up and a chance for new USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann to take a longer look at players he's considering for the roster when the qualifying begins.
The U.S. is 2-0-1 all-time against Venezuela. Tickets start at $22 and go on sale to the general public Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. MST through ussoccer.com or Ticketmaster outlets throughout the region, as well as the stadium box office.
This will be the second friendly for the men's team in Glendale. The USMNT defeated Mexico 2-0 at U of P Stadium in 2007 before more than 62,000 fans.