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Ibisevic: “I probably would have played for the United States”

Vedad Ibisevic 1 (Reuters) 

When TSG Hoffenheim, the first place team in the German Bundesliga, takes on second-place Bayern Munich on Friday, it will be led by the current goal-scoring leader in Germany. A player who just admitted that if certain things had gone differently, he might have been playing for the U.S. national team.

That player is Vedad Ibisevic.

SBI took a look at Ibisevic back in early September when he was off to a fast start with the Bundesliga newcomers. Some 17 goals later, Ibisevic has become one of the hottest properties in Europe. Not bad for a player who only a few years ago was playing high school soccer in St. Louis.

In an exclusive interview with Jack Bell of the New York Times, Ibisevic revealed that he would have considered playing for the U.S. national team, but wasn't approached:

"I have a green card and my sister is a citizen. But I never had anybody coming up to me asking me, nothing really," Ibisevic told the New York Times. "I had a couple of guys who played with me and had some contacts with national team, Johnny DiRaimondo.

"We played on same college team and did pretty good. He thought I had some qualities to play for national team, but I never had people coming to me to ask. At the time I would have considered it, I really liked the whole situation with St. Louis, and probably if someone would have approached me I probably would have played for the U.S. national team. It is difficult now to talk about because it already past. It would have been possible of course, after all that I got by moving to America, it was very nice, I would of course considered giving something back."

That should be enough to send some U.S. national team fans into an uproar, but the situation isn't as simple as it may seem.

For those wondering, Ibisevic was capped by Bosnia-Herzegovina at age 22. He also left the United States at age 20, after having lived in the United States for four years. According to U.S. government law, someone applying for citizenship would have to be a resident in this country for five years after receiving a green card in order to qualify for citizenship.

With that being the case, would Ibisevic have differed his dream of European soccer while he awaited that chance to become a U.S. citizen? Would he have stayed at St. Louis University, and then spent time in MLS, while he awaited citizenship and the chance to play for the United States? It certainly wouldn't have been an easy decision, and we'll never know how his career would have gone if he had taken that route instead of the route that has led him to be the leading scorer in one of the biggest leagues in the world.

What do you think of the interview? What sort of impact do you think he could have had with the U.S. national team? Will you hold it against U.S. Soccer for not finding Ibisevic, or do you accept that in a country this size there will always be some talented players who slip through the cracks?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I know Ibisivic, played against him in Chicago, i know some of his friends from bosnia…. his goal was to play in European club and bosnian national team only.. he would never play for another cuntry…

  2. Ives,

    You are wrong about Rossi. USSF had NO CLUE about Rossi, till he made the u16 Italy Team. After that it was too late.

    USSF never called Rossi before that

    We are not Stupid !


  3. quartz62 you sound so Stupid and ignorant by the way is Spell Immigrant not emigrant. By the way This USA Nat. team started with son of Immigrant and immigrant who became American Citizens like the (Tab Ramos, Marcelo Balboa, Perki, Ect.) so don’t be an idiot Quartz62

  4. That is one of this country problem on how to scott new players, If u let your own team to build the on Team Acadamy (Cantera) you can get anyone to come to trail or scott anywhere in the world or in the country. But No you either have to be in college or some other type of Prestige Acadamy to be notice. Two sample Subutic got notice by a Assist. Coach who happen to see him play close to the U17 Residency Facility. Please we need to start adapting to other Clubs and Other countries that know how to search for new talent. This country is so big and full of different nationality background that you can mix a good different of style of playing. USA can start a new style of play by mixing So.America and Europe style of playing.

  5. Anyone who thinks USSF did anything wrong is an idiot. You would compromise our national security for citizenship on a college soccer player? The USMNT is past the point where we cap college players. This player is a product of hard work and good coaching after he was out of the U.S., but to say that we should have done something more when he was still in college is unbelievable logic. Capping college players would be a step backward for U.S. soccer, not something positive.

  6. Lets all get pissy over an emigrant that played soccer in the US and somehow isn’t in the Nat team…WTF is wrong with you people he WAS NEVER EVER EVER a citizen of this country so the point is totally moot….

    It takes 5 years of emigrant status BEFORE YOU CAN APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP…maybe 4.5, I think I had was able to apply 6 months before I hit my 5.

    Then the process itself took ANOTHER 2 YEARS to get an appointment for an interview…

    Dam people, he was at best 3 years away from becoming a citizen….Let it go

  7. I just can’t believe anyone would want to become a citizen of this country…i thought it sucked? Serious case of woulda, shoulda, coulda, and if it didn’t work out U.S. Soccer would have “wasted time grasping at straws”.

  8. What most don’t understand is that after his freshman year at SLU, he was signed to PSG by a Bosnian coach (who saw him practicing while Vedad was in Bosnia over a summer).

    Furthermore, his teammates in Saint Louis, the likes of John DiRaimondo, Brian Grazier, Will John, etc, were all big-name recruits (and did well at the Youth National Team level), but none have yet to make that big impact on the MLS or even US Nat Team stage. So even though Vedad name-drops them… they didn’t have much pull to begin with.

    And finally…. this was 5 years ago that he broke McBride’s freshman record at SLU. 6 and 7 years now that he played HS soccer in Saint Louis. Why, only now, is this a big deal? What about when he went to PSG in the first place?

  9. mls is the only league in America you people bitch about thr players getting paid to much. alright guys im off a 9’oclock and in not wasted. what lucky girl is gonna get the full treatment tonight.

  10. US Soccer did not drop the ball. This was never going to happen.

    He was here in college shortly after September 11 and immigration was stepping up to be much tighter, especially for Muslims Vedad. He was going to have to wait a long time to be able to suit up to play for us.

    US Soccer really only has the abilities to scout for players who are able to play for them immediately or in the near future. Unlike in Europe, our soccer federation can’t make the immigration process go faster for potential players. That’s not a bad thing either.

    Face it, we would all like to have him playing for the national team, but it’s nobody’s fault.

  11. I’ve seen a lot of D1 soccer in my time. I’ve seen guys that have gone on to play in MLS and guys that have played for various youth national teams (US, Canada, various Caribbean and African nations) and have seen guys that went on to play lower division pro soccer in Europe and Africa.

    The two best players I’ve ever seen play college soccer in person were Brian McBride and Vedad Ibisevic. Nobody else comes even close. Ibisevic ran through a top 20 program like a man amongst boys. It was an awe-inspiring performance. So much so that my brother and I have kept up with his career and would read match reports of his PSG days and then with great sadness, read that he was capped by Bosnia.

    I don’t pretend to have pro scouting abilities, but he was so much better than his contemporaries that it wasn’t even funny and it’s not like he was playing for some crap squad, he was playing at one of the United States’ historical soccer factory programs.

    US Soccer totally dropped the ball on Ibisevic.

    Posted by: RBR | December 04, 2008 at 06:35 PM

    The only reason he was at PSG was because the manager at the time was from Bosnia otherwise he would have never been there. As I stated earlier we had youth players who were not brought up to the first team at that time whom were better players. He was ok at best at PSG, so I’m not sure what match reports you read and why you read them with sadness but being a PSG for fan for a very long time, he was ok at best. The best thing that happened to him was when we released him since it allowed for him to catch on with a smaller club and develop into the player he has become but PLEASE, don’t act as though he was the second coming of Christ, he wasn’t. Good Luck to him and I hope for more future successes for him but he wasn’t a prodigy that was somehow missed by everyone — Gheesh

  12. RBR, what do you think US Soccer should have done? How could they have convinced him to stay in college over turning pro with PSG? Or should US Soccer directly fund MLS contracts?

  13. Jonathon,

    Name one of these athletes the USOC fast tracked citizenship for…

    I’m also pretty sure that the Olympics has far less strict rules when it comes to those that represent your team, allowing an athlete to represent more than one country in their lives…

  14. I don’t think it is always a factor of how good the striker is. Look at Mcbride and how much he was scoring when he played in England as to how much scoring he did and is currently soing in MLS. The reality is on the US team Ibesivic might not be scoring that much because he would not be getting the same kind of service that he is getting with his German club team. The whole team has to be at a higher level, and the style of play facotrs in as well.

  15. any chance of a shout out to the uS u 20 womens team??thwey just beat germany in the semis and now play north korea in the final,sydney leroux is a beast,the golden boot with 5 goals so far.

    that english commentator on espn u is awful,theres 3 minutes left and the us are up 1-0 and have a corner.

    “the US have nobody in the box,this is rediculous.” of course were going to play it short and hold on to the ball.

    he really is clueless.

  16. All this says is, if this would have happened, this could have happened… He didn’t say he would have played for the US, he said he probably would have. Probability over a guarantee, nine times out of ten what are we going to go with? He is a good player, took every opportunity he was given and hence look at how his career has turned out. Good luck to him the rest of the way but no way this reflects badly on the USSF. The whole process is difficult, we just got to make the best of it with what we can. He is not the first one or the last player this will happen with. This situation happens to teams all the time. US is no Brazil by any means but look at how many players Brazil has lost to other national teams?


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