U.S. men's national soccer team faces Guatemala at Qualcomm Stad - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

U.S. men's national soccer team faces Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The U.S. men's national soccer team will play in San Diego for the first time since 2006 Friday night when it faces Guatemala in an exhibition game at Qualcomm Stadium.

The game will be the Americans' lone tuneup for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The U.S. will play its first game in the tournament to determine the champion of the North American, Central American and Caribbean region Tuesday in Portland, Ore., against Belize.

"This is a very important opportunity for us to get in a good game before the start of the Gold Cup," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.

"It is our goal to win the tournament and the chance to play Guatemala will be good preparation for our group. We are thrilled to get back to San Diego, which has such an outstanding soccer tradition."

Klinsmann said the starting lineup he uses tonight will be "the one we expect to start in the Gold Cup."

The game marks the return of Landon Donovan to the U.S. team after an absence that began last August. The team's all-time leading scorer took a four-month sabbatical from soccer following the end of the Major League Soccer season on Dec. 1.

"I'm very excited to be back," Donovan said in an interview posted on ussoccer.com, the website of U.S. Soccer, the sport's national federation.

"Jurgen has created an environment where you are really competing consistently to be part of this team and now I am very much on the outside looking in and I've got to make my way back in."

Donovan called tonight's game "very important" in the preparations for the Gold Cup "because we have not played together."

"A few of the guys have been in camp with the qualifiers, but a lot of guys who are here have not played with the other guys," Donovan said. "It's sort of an underestimated part in all of this and it's important. No matter how talented people are, you can't just throw them together and have it be a team."

The game will begin at 8 p.m. and be televised live by cable's NBC Sports Network.

The U.S. is 0-5-2 in San Diego, including a 0-0 tie against Canada on Jan. 22, 2006 at the University of San Diego's Torero Stadium before a crowd announced at 6,007 in its most recent game in the city.

The U.S. leads its series against Guatemala, 13-4-6 and 13-0-6 mark since a 1-0 loss on Jan. 10, 1988. The U.S. is 11-0-1 against Guatemala in the U.S.

The U.S. defeated Guatemala, 3-1, on Oct. 16 in Kansas City, Mo., in the final group game of the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the most recent game between the two teams.

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