Merry Christmas! America is HDC-bound


Club America, which is making its move as the most critical portion of the Mexican Primera Division's Apertura campaign arrives -- the Aguilas might just be the team to beat when the playoffs begin next week -- have a Christmas present for Southern California.

The Mexico City giant will take on Guatemala's national team in a Dec. 29 friendly at the Home Depot Center, its 11th appearance in Carson and second in the L.A. area in six months. Kickoff is expected to be 7 or 8 p.m., and tickets go on sale Nov. 18. America beat Cruz Azul at the Rose Bowl in July.

The match will be a replacement of sorts for the InterLiga, Mexico's annual qualifying tournament for Copa Libertadores that had been played the last seven Januarys at HDC. InterLiga was discontinued earlier this year.

HDC also will stage, as always, the opener on the U.S. national team's calendar. The game, usually in the third or fourth week of January, following a national team camp, is expected to be announced in the next few days. Chile, we hear, will be the U.S. opponent.