The U.S. Men’s National Team kicks off 2017 when they host Serbia on Jan. 29 at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. While the friendly will be the MNT’s first test of the year, the match will also serve as head coach Bruce Arena’s first back in charge of the National Team.
The winningest coach in MNT history, Arena called 32 players to the MNT’s annual January Camp on Jan. 5 to prepare for Serbia and the Feb. 3 match against Jamaica in Chattanooga as he builds his side towards important World Cup Qualifying matches vs. Honduras (March 24) and at Panama (March 28).
Serbia is on an upward trajectory after winning the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Having last taken part at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Eagles currently sit second in Group D of UEFA World Cup Qualifying with an unbeaten 2-0-2 record and will use their match against the United States to prepare for their next qualifier at the Republic of Georgia on March 24.
Serbia is recognized by FIFA and UEFA as the successor to the Yugoslavia National Team. The U.S. has never faced Serbia exclusively, but previously played Yugoslavia twice. The first meeting came in a 9-1 defeat on Nov. 28, 1956, in the quarterfinals of that year’s Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. The more recent encounter came on June 25, 1998 in Nantes, France where Yugoslavia collected a 1-0 win in the teams’ final group stage match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
The match will mark the U.S. MNT’s sixth game at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. In the team’s last visit, the U.S. earned a 6-0 win against Guatemala on July 5, 2013, setting the stage for the run to the 2013 Gold Cup championship.