St. Louis has turned heads across the continent this year with several large, passionate crowds for exhibition soccer games, and if early reports are correct, the River City might play host to another massive match in the lead-up to the World Cup.
In a blog post about last week’s international friendly betweenBosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina – where fervent supporters of the former team ruffled a few feathers by setting off European-style flares in the ultras’ section – local publication the Riverfront Timesstates that BiH are planning a return to St. Louis to face the US national team in a friendly during the March 2014 international window.
That claim reinforces August reports in the Bosnian media suggesting that the Zmajevi (Dragons), who lost 4-3 to the USMNT in Sarajevo on Aug. 14 thanks to a Jozy Altidore hat trick, will have a chance to exact revenge on the Yanks in Missouri next March.
FIFA has earmarked March 5 as an official international date, the only such spot on the calendar between now and the opening of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
A World Cup warmup between the USMNT and BiH would likely draw another huge crowd to the River City, but a few factors could prevent it from happening. The two teams are in different pots for next week’s World Cup draw and thus might be drawn into the same group for Brazil, which would force their respective coaches to seek other competition in the spring.
And the predominance of European-based players on Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad makes a midweek trans-Atlantic trip less than ideal.
“Any report about a possible opponent or location at this point is premature,” U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday, “but it is likely the match will be played in Europe. Once we find out our opponents for the World Cup, we will begin more in-depth discussions with federations about the March 5 match date.”
Bosnia-Herzegovina are riding high after clinching World Cup qualification for the first time ever thanks to a first-place finish in UEFA Group G.
St. Louis is home to a large Bosnian expatriate community (estimated at 70,000) and provided a warm welcome for their heroes when the Zmajevi met Argentina at Busch Stadium, home of baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, on Nov. 18 (Argentina won 2-0).
The city has also flocked to exhibition matches featuring European heavyweights Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, and can boast one of the most storied soccer histories in North America.
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