Soccer match in Cuba could help mend US-Cuba relations

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Soccer Match in Cuba Could Help Mend US-Cuba Relations

More than 50 years after the U.S.-imposed embargo on Cuba strained relations and another three decades since the teams hit the soccer pitch together, the New York Cosmos are set to play the Cuban National Team on Tuesday.

The team arrived in Havana Monday with former Brazilian soccer star and former Cosmos player Pele in tow.

"I'm happy when there are moments of peace, moments to bring people together. It's a great joy to be here during this time when soccer is helping bring peace for Cuba and the United States," Pele said during a press conference.

This is the first time since the Chicago Sting in 1978 that a U.S. pro soccer team has played in Cuba. Then-President Jimmy Carter was attempting to better relations with the country. Sports just have a way of bringin' us all together.

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New York Cosmos playing in Cuba - Press Conference up front
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Soccer match in Cuba could help mend US-Cuba relations
Brazilian football legend Pele (L) delivers a joint press conference with US football team New York Cosmos' Spanish player Raul Gonzalez (R) and Cuban player Yenier Marquez (out of frame) during press conference in Havana, on June 1, 2015. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / Adalberto Roque (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Brazilian football legend Pele (C) holds the hands of Cuban player Yenier Marquez (L) and US football team New York Cosmos' Spanish player Raul Gonzalez (R) during press conference in Havana, on June 1, 2015. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / Adalberto Roque (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Brazilian football legend Pele (C) holds the hands of Cuban player Yenier Marquez (L) and US football team New York Cosmos' Spanish player Raul Gonzalez (R) during press conference in Havana, on June 1, 2015. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / Adalberto Roque (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
A US football team New York Cosmos' player runs for the ball with children of Cuban football teams on June 1, 2015 in Havana. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A US football team New York Cosmos' player speaks to children of Cuban football teams on June 1, 2015 in Havana. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A US football team New York Cosmos' player speaks with a child of a Cuban football team on June 1, 2015 in Havana. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
New York Cosmos soccer team player Brazilian Marcos Antonio Senna da Silva (2nd-L) poses with members of Cuban team at the Pedro Marrero stadium on June 1, 2015 in Havana. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, 2015 when they become the first American sports team in 16 years to play in the island. AFP PHOTO/YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
New York Cosmos soccer team player Brazilian Marcos Antonio Senna da Silva (R) arrives at the Pedro Marrero stadium on June 1, 2015 in Havana. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, 2015 when they become the first American sports team in 16 years to play in the island. AFP PHOTO/YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A US team New York Cosmos' footballer prepares to play with children of Cuban football teams on June 1, 2015 in Havana. The New York Cosmos will kick off a new era in sporting relations between the United States and Cuba on June 2, when they become the first US sports team to play in the island in 16 years. AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)
New York Cosmos player Raul Gonzalez listens to a question during a press conference ahead of their friendly soccer match against Cuba's national team in Havana, Cuba, Monday, June 1, 2015. While the two governments have yet to reopen embassies after nearly half a year of complicated negotiations, Havana has been flooded by a surge of U.S. tourists, as well as delegations of lawmakers, businesspeople and athletes. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
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Carter opened non-diplomatic relations with the country in the late 70s, but it wasn't until January this year until relations with the two sides eased. The U.S. just recently removed Cuba from its state sponsors of terrorism list.

Although the New York Cosmos' needed the White House's approval and help to get to Cuba, the match is seen as an unofficial way to mend relations.

Soccer isn't the only sport hoping to hit the field in Cuba. Baseball has been popular in the country for years, and the nation's still added tons of talent to Major League Baseball rosters.

MLB commissioner Robert Manfred said the league is exploring games in Cuba in the near future.

"Cuba is a great source of talent, we've seen that, and we're always interested in a new source of talent," Manfred told ESPN.

Although no games are currently in place. The Cosmos kick off against the Cuban National Team at 5 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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