US plays Aruba or St Vincent in World Cup qualifying opener

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The United States will host Aruba or St. Vincent and the Grenadines at St. Louis on Nov. 13 in the Americans’ opening qualifier for the 2018 World Cup.

Seeking their eighth straight World Cup appearance, the Americans are at Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 17, then play at the Guatemala-Antigua and Barbuda on March 25 before hosting the winner of that series on March 29.

The Americans play at Aruba or St. Vincent on Sept. 2, then close the fourth round at home against Trinidad on Sept. 6. The top two nations in the group advance to the six-team regional finals for North and Central America and the Caribbean, which will produce three qualifiers for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The U.S. will have at least three matches before the start of qualifying, The Americans host exhibitions against Peru on Sept. 4 and Brazil four days later, then play Mexico on Oct. 9 for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

American coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to decide whether to use defenders John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin for the game against El Tri or have them with the under-23 team for Olympic qualifying, which runs from Oct. 1-13.

“If you look at the youngsters like DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks, there are some other kids in there that I would love to have for the senior level,” Klinsmann said after Saturday’s loss to Panama. “We’ll figure that one out.”

The game at St. Louis will be played in Busch Stadium on a 75-by-110-yard field, 3 yards wider than for the U.S. women’s exhibition match against New Zealand in April. The layout was smaller the recommended field size because the stadium configuration couldn’t be changed with the baseball season beginning.

Players didn’t seem to mind.

“It wasn’t a point of discussion at all, so i guess it was big enough,” midfielder Lori Chalupny said. “You hear they’re rolling out turf two days before the game, and you’re a little bit skeptical, but it was perfect.”

Organizers in November will be able to make field alterations. The grounds crew will install turf on foul lines to widen the field.

“Most players just play,” U.S. Soccer Federation Chief Executive Officer Dan Flynn said. “They’ll look, but if you’re playing a super-fast team you’ll know if it’s 75. Generally speaking, players react pretty quick.”

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