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Rio Tinto Stadium to host USMNT friendly in June

The U.S. team will play Costa Rica as part of a slate of games to mimic World Cup qualifying.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File) | In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, file photo, Gregg Berhalter, right, head coach of the U.S. Men's National Soccer team, instructs some of his players during drills in Bradenton, Fla. Berhalter, and the USMNT will play host to Costa Rica at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 9.

The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and Rio Tinto Stadium have a longstanding relationship over the years, with the Sandy location playing host to the country’s premier men’s soccer team several times.

Next month, that partnership will continue.

U.S. Soccer will announce Wednesday that the USMNT will play a friendly against Costa Rica at the RioT on June 9 as part of a series of games meant to mimic the World Cup qualifying schedule this fall. A maximum of 10,000 fans are currently allowed at Rio Tinto, per local health and safety protocols.

“From my time in MLS, I’ve experienced the outstanding facilities and fan support they have built in Salt Lake,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s always been a great home for the National Team, and we’re thrilled to be playing our last friendly before World Cup qualifying in Utah.”

The USMNT is 4-0-1 all-time in games played in Utah. The last time the team played at Rio Tinto — the home field for Real Salt Lake — was in 2017 in a 1-1 draw against Venezuela.

U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM VS. COSTA RICA

At Rio Tinto Stadium

When • June 9, kickoff TBD

TV • ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN

The USMNT will finally get the opportunity to have its full slate of players available for selection against Costa Rica. For the past year-plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for some players — Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, for example — to reach the United States for certain games.

Rosters will be announced in the coming weeks.

Several former USMNT players are currently involved with Real Salt Lake. Nick Rimando is a goalkeeper coach for the Academy, Pablo Mastroeni is the club’s lead assistant and Tony Beltran is the organization’s assistant general manager. Kyle Beckerman, another USMNT alumnus, is the head coach for the Utah Valley University men’s soccer team.

The game against Costa Rica culminates a slate that starts in Switzerland on May 30 before it moves to Denver for the the CONCACAF Nations League Final Four.

“Costa Rica is a competitive CONCACAF team and we are looking forward to this opportunity,” Berhalter said in a statement. “Combined with the ability to mimic the cadence of matches we will encounter in September and October, this is an important step in our preparation for the start of World Cup Qualifying.”

The June 9 game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2, UniMás and TUDN. Kickoff time will be announced at a later date, as will ticket sales information for Rio Tinto.

The USMNT last played Costa Rica in Utah in 2005 — a 3-0 U.S. win — at Rice-Eccles Stadium in a World Cup qualifying game attended by more than 40,000 people.

“I think Utah does a fantastic job of putting our flag in the ground,” RSL Interim President John Kimball told The Tribune. “Being one of the smallest markets in the MLS to be able to have these big events happen here speaks to the resilience of our community and speaks to how we’re able to execute the Olympics and other big events that have come to Utah.

“I think we’re known, certainly in our country, [as] one of the states that can really pull things like this off.”

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