Venues announced for U.S.’s final four World Cup Qualifiers

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No surprises here. U.S. Soccer announced the venues for the Men’s National Team’s final four World Cup qualifiers, and they’re right where was expected them.

On Friday, the U.S. begins the home portion of final round qualifying in Denver against Costa Rica. Their next home qualifier is June 11 in Seattle against Panama. The team hosts Honduras seven days later in Sandy, UT, while the quadrennial qualifier against Mexico in Columbus takes place Sept. 10. Sporting Park hosts the team’s final home qualifier on Oct. 11 against Jamaica.

“We are really excited about the venues we have selected for our home World Cup qualifiers,” U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said via a federation release. “Winning your games at home is crucial, and we know that at each of these stadiums we will get amazing support from the fans. There are so many great facilities in this country, and to be able to play in this many soccer specific stadiums in MLS cities shows how far this sport has come.”

Full Schedule
The USMNT’s current schedule, through the end of the calendar year.
March 22: Costa Rica, WCQ, Denver
March 26: Mexico, WCQ, Mexico City
May 29: Belgium, FR, Cleveland
June 2: Germany, FR, Washington D.C.
June 7: Jamaica, WCQ, Kingston
June 11: Panama, WCQ, Seattle
June 18: Honduras, WCQ, Sandy
July 9: Belize, GC, Portland
July 13: Cuba, GC, Sandy
July 16: Costa Rica, GC, Hartford
Sept 6: Costa Rica, WCQ, TBD
Sept 10: Mexico, WCQ, Columbus
Oct 11: Jamaica, WCQ, Kansas City
Oct 15: Panama, WCQ, TBD

These venue announcements expected ever since’s Grant Wahl reported the potential schedule earlier this winter. The atmosphere at CenturyLink Field made Seattle an attractive venue despite the city not hosting a World Cup qualifier in 35 years. Booking Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium for the venue’s second ever qualifier follows the same line of thinking that placed the Costa Rica game in Colorado. The Columbus match will mark the fourth straight cycle El Tri has had to venture to Columbus, while for the second straight round, Sporting Park will host the final home match.

Along with announcing the qualifying venues, U.S. Soccer also confirmed the men’s anticipated summer friendly against Germany. The States will host Klinsmann’s former team in a Centennial Celebration Match at Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium on June 2.

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

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The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS playoff scenarios ]

Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.