USA to launch 2021 with friendly against Trinidad & Tobago

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Washington (AFP)

The United States will open a 2021 campaign that will include World Cup qualifying with a football friendly against Trinidad & Tobago in Orlando, Florida, on January 31.

The match will follow the team's current training camp in Bradenton, Florida, where established senior team members and the under-23 squad were set to train under US coach Gregg Berhalter and under-23 coach Jason Kreis through January 24.

It's expected that Berhalter could pluck some from the under-23 ranks -- who are prepping for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying in Mexico in March -- for the match against Trinidad & Tobago.

"It's nice after an intensive training camp to get to compete," Berhalter said. "The guys have been working hard and we welcome the opportunity to play against a regional rival like Trinidad & Tobago."

Before CONCACAF regional qualifying for the 2022 World Cup kicks off in September, the US men will be involved in the CONCACAF Nations League Final Four as well as the Gold Cup in July.

With the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted 2020 still raging in the United States, US Soccer has put Covid-19 safety protocols in place for the camp and for the match, which will allow a limited number of spectators at Exploria Stadium -- home of Major League Soccer's Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League.

"Due to the evolving conditions related to the global pandemic, capacity for the event will be limited to 4,500 fans," US Soccer said in a statement.