The United States men’s national team will not travel to Qatar as planned for its January training camp.
The change of plans came Friday, a day after a United States drone strike at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, among others. Iran’s leaders condemned the attack and said the country will retaliate. Early Friday morning, the U.S. State Department urged all U.S. citizens in Iraq to leave immediately.
“Due to the developing situation in the region, U.S. Soccer has decided to postpone traveling to Qatar for the Men’s National Team’s scheduled January training camp,” a statement from the federation read. “In the meantime, we are working on alternative arrangements in preparation for the match against Costa Rica on February 1 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.
“We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar’s world-class facilities and hospitality.”
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) January 4, 2020
The annual January camp will now take place in Bradenton, Fla.
The USMNT will use the camp to prepare for its first friendly of 2020 on Feb. 1 against Costa Rica at Dignity Health Sports Park. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter named 25 players to his roster for camp and the friendly.
The USMNT initially planned to train at Aspire Academy in Qatar’s capital city of Doha Jan. 5-25 in order to familiarize itself with the facilities and customs ahead of the 2022 World Cup that will be held in the country.
The USMNT held similar on-location camps in South Africa and Brazil prior to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups respectively.
“Our priority is to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” Berhalter said at the time. “So it’s certainly a big benefit to get a head start on experiencing the facilities, environment and culture of the tournament hosts.”