NY Cosmos set to play game in Cuba against national team

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In June, the New York Cosmos will become the first U.S. team to play on Cuban soil in nearly 37 years as they are reportedly set to take on the Cuban national team in the summer. The possibility was first reported by the New York Times on Sunday.

According to a report in the Associated Press and confirmed by a Cuban soccer official, the Cosmos will visit for a match on June 2, becoming the first American team to play in the country since the long-since-defunct Chicago Sting went abroad in 1978. The Baltimore Orioles were the last American professional team to play in Cuba back in 1998, while the USMNT traveled over to play a World Cup qualifier in 2008.

“The United States plays excellent soccer, so for us it will be great preparation for the knock-out phase of 2018 World Cup qualification,” said Cuban Soccer Association vice president Antonio Garces. The Cosmos also confirmed talks, but would not go further, with a spokesman saying Monday, “We’ve had meaningful dialogue with the Cuban Federation but will provide further information in due course.

The game was announced by accident this weekend on a number of Cuban websites, erroneously placing the game on April 2 before being taken down. It makes sense for the Cosmos to travel to Cuba because of their international appeal with Raul and Marcos Senna on the roster, as well as players from Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and Paraguay.

The Cosmos move to play in Cuba is the first sporting attempt to play in the Caribbean country since President Obama moved to restore relations with Cuba in December.