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Crucial Test for U.S. Side

Mexico City — The United State and Mexico meet in a World Cup qualifier tonight, and both teams could use a boost.

In this final stage of CONCACAF qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, only three teams out of six will lock up a berth, with the fourth team landing in a playoff game against the Oceania winner.

Right now, Mexico is tied for third and needs a win after disappointing draws with Honduras on Friday and Jamaica in February.

“We need to work on everything, the technical, tactical and mental elements,” said Mexico’s coach, Jose Manuel de la Torre. “We can’t leave anything out.”

The U.S. lost its opener to Honduras in February. It moved into second place after beating Costa Rica 1-0 in the middle of a snowstorm last week in Commerce City, Colo.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsman said yesterday that the Americans respect Mexico and that makes it “one of those games you are hungry for. It’s an awesome opportunity, and we want to embrace the moment and give them a real game, to battle them.”

The game is at the intimidating Azteca Stadium, where the Americans have only beaten Mexico once — in an exhibition match last August.

A U.S. victory would mark the first time Mexico lost at home in a World Cup qualifier since a 2002 match against Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Protests Loss

Zurich — FIFA is studying a protest from the Costa Rica soccer federation, which wants a World Cup qualifier against the United States replayed after losing 1-0 in a snowstorm.

“FIFA will now analyze the content of the letter and next steps will be determined in due course,” the governing body said yesterday in a statement.

The Costa Rican federation said Sunday that the “physical integrity” of players and officials was affected, “ball movement became impossible” and field markings were not visible in Friday’s match.

The federation also urged FIFA to punish match officials, including referee Joel Aguilar of El Salvador, for allowing the match to proceed.

For the protest to have a chance of succeeding, it must meet specific requirements stated in the 2014 World Cup Regulations.

One clause says that when a field becomes unplayable, the protesting team’s captain “shall immediately lodge a protest with the referee in the presence of the captain of the opposing team.”

Costa Rica also had to file written protests with the match coordinator within two hours of the final whistle, and to FIFA’s administration by registered letter within 24 hours, “otherwise they shall be disregarded,” the regulations state. FIFA had yet to determine whether Costa Rica had followed those procedures.

U.S. captain Clint Dempsey scored in the 16th minute to lift his team to second place in the six-team CONCACAF region qualifying group after two matches. Costa Rica is last.

The top three teams qualify directly for the tournament in Brazil, and the fourth-place team faces New Zealand in a playoff.

Union Bids Adieu to Adu

Chester, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union has reached a contract termination by mutual consent with star midfielder Freddy Adu.

Adu, who finalized the agreement yesterday, has signed with Esporte Clube Bahia, a Brazilian club, and the Union, in turn, acquired veteran Brazilian midfielder Jose Kleberson on loan from the same team.

Kleberson, 33, was on Brazil’s winning team in the 2002 World Cup, and has appeared in 32 matches for his country.

Adu, 23, came to Philadelphia in August 2011 under former coach Peter Nowak. Adu made 35 appearances for the Union, scoring seven times with two assists.

“We would like to thank Freddy Adu for his service to the Union over the past two years,” Philadelphia team manager John Hackworth said, “and wish him the best of luck as he continues his career in Brazil.”

U.S. Draws France, Spain at U20s

Istanbul — Tournament-favorite Spain is will play the United States, France and an African team to be determined in one of toughest groups at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

FIFA conducted the draw yesterday in Istanbul and placed host nation Turkey with Colombia, Australia and El Salvador.

England will face Iraq, Chile and the winner of the Under-20 African Championship being decided this week. Egypt, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria have reached the semifinals there.

Mexico heads a group with Paraguay, Greece and an African team. Uruguay is with New Zealand or Fiji, Uzbekistan and Croatia.

Portugal, which was runner-up in 2011, will play Cuba, South Korea and an African team.

Defending champion Brazil failed to qualify. The tournament will be played June 21-July 13 in seven Turkish cities.