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A new hotbed of American soccer culture has a stadium worthy of being the U.S.’ go-to venue.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The office was about a half-mile away from where the U.S. men’s national team will step onto the field Friday night, and it had a broken air conditioner and just one copy machine.

In the window was a sign that had images of a globe and a coffee mug, and inside the building, 10 volunteers worked to bring an event called the World Cup to Orlando. Some of them didn’t even know what the tournament was when they signed up to help.

Nearly three decades after that group first formed, the city has a chance to essentially reverse that task. Instead of bringing the World Cup to Orlando, fans would like to help send the U.S. men’s national team to the sport’s biggest tournament.

A victory Friday night over Panama at Orlando City Stadium in a must-win qualifier would be a massive step in that direction.

 

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