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USMNT set to open 2017 slate with friendly against Serbia

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski /USA Today Sports
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski /USA Today Sports

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s first opponent of 2017 has been revealed, as the U.S. opens the second Bruce Arena Era against a tough European foe.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the USMNT will open the 2017 campaign on Jan. 29 against Serbia in San Diego. The Yanks will play Serbia inside Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. The match will come at the conclusion of the annual January camp, which will be crucial this year for Arena to identify domestic-based players who can help the USMNT succeed in 2017.

Serbia is in the middle of UEFA Euro 2018 qualification, but it is unlikely they will bring any of their big names to California since the friendly does not fall within the FIFA International window. This will be the first-ever match between the two nations. The Yanks did face the former Yugoslavia on a few occasions, with a 1-0 loss in the group stage of the 1998 FIFA World Cup being the most significant.

The USMNT last played in San Diego in 2013 in advance of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The site and opponent of the second post-January camp friendly have yet to be announced.


  1. They’d be nuts to play neither game in Carson at the Stub Hub Center. I mean, that’s where their lockers are, and offices, and practice fields… I understand San Diego. It’s a two hour busride, and it’s a big soccer market that lacks much pro soccer. But I can’t imagine they’re going to ALSO get on a plane and go somewhere to play another match.

    • If there is a 2nd game and there usually is, you would think it would be in Carson. Perhaps they just decided 2 games there like they did last year was a bad idea.

  2. Reports are that this will be entirely domestic Serbian team. Bruce would have known that in advance, though. Either way, this team will feature no Serbian regulars – as in zero – if reports are correct.

    • According to wikipedia only one player from the Serbian League has been called up to their national team in the last year. There are a couple who play in northern European leagues that will be on break as well at that time, but this looks to be a C or D team at best. Of course this is how Camp Cupcake got its name.

  3. After serbia maybe we need to play a couple of teams AROUND the top 15 in FIFA rankings, like Croatia, Peru or Ecuador (England and Italy that’s a “no bueno!!!” lol) to put our team and their hard work to the test

    • You won’t get any country who’s league is not on break to play. And then you will get that country’s B or C squad because their best players will be playing in better leagues not on break like Iceland last year or the squad Serbia will bring. That is of course only fair since a large amount of our first choice players will also be unavailable.

      • USMNT play on Jan. 29 against Serbia so basically friendlies would be scheduled in February / March
        Nothing on the schedule for Peru or Ecuador so that’s a possibility. Plus, Ecuador might want payback for Copa América defeat in June.

        Next game for England and Italy (Both World Cup Qualifying) would be around the same time the US has a world cup qualifying match against Honduras also, so friendlies would be definitely warranted (though I don’t know if Arena would want that kind of exposure, this early)

        Next game for England is on 22 March 2017 which is a Friendly with Germany, so they could play the US too a little before that game (England’s next major competition is on 26 March 2017 in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification match against Lithuania)

        Next game for Italy would be 24 March 2017 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification and they have no friendlies currently scheduled on paper so they definitely wouldn’t mind a warm up with the USMNT.

        So, February / March would definitely be a good time for friendlies (if Ecuador and Peru can’t make it or are not available, then we “walk into the valley of the shadow of death” with a fine tuned England or Italy lol), and no, they will not be bringing their B or C teams because some of these countries are putting together their National teams also for major competition

      • this is for the guy below in the comments, theres these things called international breaks, where club teams have to release their players. We cant just randomly schedule friendlies whenever we want.

      • As Chris said there is no international window before the next qualifier, no top 30 country would play in Feb. or March because there are no international dates and almost every league in the world is in season at that time. Plus MLS would be in pre-season and would not release their players either.

        Fifa Match Dates for 2017
        March 20-28
        June 5-13
        Aug 28 – Sept. 5
        Oct. 2-10
        Nov. 6-14

        These are also the final hex dates plus the inter-confederation playoff dates. There will likely be a few friendlies in late June or early July to prep for the Gold Cup, but USSF and MLS will have to work out that schedule, but since there is no European or S.American tournament this Summer you would likely get a B team, not that playing a top 20 B team isn’t still a good test.

      • Johnnyrazor,
        “no top 30 country would play in Feb. or March because there are no international dates and almost every league in the world is in season at that time”…lol really?
        Netherlands vs Italy – Tuesday 28th March 2017

        Republic of Ireland v Iceland – Tuesday 28th March 2017

        Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Russia – Saturday 25th March 2017

        England vs Germany – Wednesday 22nd March 2017

        Czech Republic vs Lithuania – Wednesday 22nd March 2017

        Iceland vs Mexico – Wednesday 8th February 2017

        no international dates? Almost every league in the world is in season? …..really? no top 30 country would play in Feb. or March?? If none of these teams are ranked in the top 30 then the US must be up in the 80’s

      • Bizzy chill out dude, we aren’t attacking you personally Chris and I are just pointing out there will not be high end friendlies played in Feb. and March against top teams as you had hoped.

        The US plays qualifiers on March 24 and 28. The international window is March 20 to the 28th, professional leagues in Europe play up until the 19th, so the earliest any team would play an international game is March 23. Uefa has only one qualifying match scheduled for that week most taking place the 24,25, or 26th. As you pointed out some UEFA teams are using the remainder of the week to play a friendly. FIFA rules would preclude any UEFA team from flying to the US to play after playing in Europe, earlier in those days (remember that is why New Zealand was swapped for Ghana). Which really doesn’t matter because the US is already playing twice in that week so there is no possibility to work in another match even if someone wanted to fly over here and play.

        Iceland, I would give you fairly decent odds now that you pointed out they will be in Las Vegas Feb. 8 will be the US opponent on Feb. 4 or 5th (yes I was wrong that is in Feb.) This will be a squad like last years composed primarily of B and C players as most of last years roster that came to the US have not played for Iceland since with only two or three making the Euro roster and they didn’t play. I’m not sure who Mexico will send for that match either because Liga Mx plays the weekends before and after so perhaps they are planning to send their U20s as prep for the CONCACAF U20 Tournament the following week.

        Bizzy as always I appreciate your convictions, and your premise of scheduling good opponents is on track, your timing just doesn’t work. There will likely be a higher quality opponent this Summer before the Gold Cup when players are not on club duty.

      • Lol Johnnyrazor relax man, it’s just a friendly back and forth. I see what you are saying and yes thats th norm but I’m just highlighting that the fact that the international window (March 20 to the 28th) doesn’t mean jack. You are not compelled to play during that period. Its up to the country and whether they can or want to play. A team like Iceland is playing china on the 10th of January (China cup but still friendly), is playing Mexico on February 8th and playing Republic of Ireland on the 28th of March… after their 2018 FIFA WCQ match against Kosovo. Croatia (ranked 14) and Chile (ranked 4) are both taking part in the China cup in January (which are friendlies) and the tornament doesn’t fall within the international window

        you said “no top 30 country would play in Feb. or March because there are no international dates and almost every league in the world is in season at that time”… and I was just stating that it’s not true, because there are friendlies taking place in February and March.

        Also you said “The international window is March 20 to the 28th, professional leagues in Europe play up until the 19th, so the earliest any team would play an international game is March 23.” that’s not true either. Germany (with the Bundesliga) plays England (with the EPL), and also
        Czech Republic plays Lithuania happen to have a game on the 22nd of March, and best believe they all set up camp before the 22nd of March (so see where you are wrong?). Like I said there are exceptions to the rule hence the reason Croatia (ranked 14), Chile (ranked 4), Mexico (ranked 18) and Iceland (ranked 21) are playing in January / February.

      • Ok you seemed like you were getting a little tense, glad your still good. There are some teams playing January matches, who are countries like the US whose leagues aren’t in session at that time. However, like the US, the players that are playing in those matches are the B or C level players, because the top players play in European leagues that are not on break and are available. China I suppose could be near full strength I don’t know how many Euro players they have.

        Most UEFA teams are playing there friendlies the 2nd game of the week, but I guess since England and Germany play their qualifier the 26th they had to have the friendly early. Travel time for the players on those teams would be a couple hours remember, whereas for the US players coming from Europe its half a day. Doesn’t really matter because the US is playing two qualifiers that week. The US isn’t going to schedule England on Wednesday, Honduras on Friday, and at Panama on Tuesday.

        So yes, technically you are right teams can play at anytime, but I thought your point was we needed high level competition to make ourselves better. That high level competition isn’t available for friendlies until the Summer. If you just want to pad our Fifa Ranking we can play the Swiss C team whenever.

  4. good opponent for us, however I’m not so sure about putting this game in san diego, but always tough with camp cupcake friendlies due to southern cities being filled with fair weather fans, I guess would just prefer it in a soccer specific stadium (Houston, Frisco, even Carson).

    Any news on a 2nd opponent after this game? Kind of a waste to only get one game after a three week long camp. Wouldn’t mind playing a South American team, like a Chile, or a central american team not in the hex, like El Salvador.

    • I thought playing in San Diego was strange too, although Carson only drew 18,000 combined for the two matches last year. Frisco only drew 9,000 in May so maybe they are looking to spread the dates around instead of just sticking soccer specific spots. Or they think just replacing JK will magically bring the crowds out.

      • I don’t think that theory is wrong, crowds on average will increase, and I do think san diego does have a soccer market just more latin based, which isn’t exactly what a usa-serbia game brings.

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