Five Things To Know About Serbia

Watch USA-Serbia on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO Max, Peacock and UNIVERSO; Presented by BioSteel
By: Michael Lewis

The U.S. Men's National Team kicks off its 2023 schedule against Serbia on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. ET (HBO Max, Peacock, UNIVERSO), the first of two international friendlies in Southern California.

The USMNT will welcome their fellow 2022 FIFA World Cup participants  to BMO Stadium in Los Angeles. They also will play Colombia at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Peacock, Telemundo).

This will be the fourth time the USA, 13th in the latest FIFA rankings, and No. 29 Serbia have met as the Americans will be seeking their first win after going 0-2-1 in the first three encounters.


Serbia, which carries on the footballing history of the Yugoslavian National Team, has competed in 12 FIFA World Cups, reaching the knockout round on six occasions.

Its best finish was at the first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, when it took fourth place in the 13-team competition. The European side won both its group stage matches, 2-1 over Brazil and 4-0 past Bolivia. However, Yugoslavia met its match in the semifinals, losing to eventual champions Uruguay, 6-1. There were no third place matches then.

The squad also reached the quarterfinals in 1954, 1958 and 1990. At Italia '90, the team finished second to Germany in Group D with a 2-1-0 mark. It bested Spain in the Round of 16, 2-1, in the Round of 16, but fell to eventual runners-up Argentina in the quarterfinals, losing in penalty kicks, 3-2 after playing to a scoreless draw.

As Serbia, the team has participated in three of the past four World Cups but has failed to get out of the group stage each time in 2010, 2018 and 2022.

In the quadrennial European Championship, the squad finished second in 1960 and 1968 and wound up in fourth place in 1976. Serbia has failed to qualify for the past four competitions.

In the Olympics, Yugoslavia is the only team to have won a silver medal three consecutive times (1948, 1952, 1956).


Serbia did not win a game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, finishing at 0-2-1 in Group G action.

It dropped a 2-0 decision to Brazil in its opening match on Nov. 24 as Richarlison tallied in the 62nd and 73rd minutes. Richarlison's final goal, a spectacular scissors' kick, was hailed as one of the best goals of the tournaments.

In one of the wildest group-stage encounters, Serbia and Cameroon played to 3-3 draw on Nov. 28. After Jean-Charles Castelletto lifted Cameroon into a 29th-minute lead, the Orlovi struck for the next three goals behind Strahinja Pavlovic (a minute into first-half stoppage time), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (three minutes into added time) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (53rd minute). However, the European squad could not hold onto the lead as goals three minutes apart by Vincent Aboubakar (63rd minute) and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (66th minute) helped Cameroon equalize.

Serbia failed to reach the Round of 16, as it could not hold the lead for the second consecutive match, dropping a 3-2 decision to Switzerland on Dec. 2. Xherdan Shaqiri lifted the Swiss into a 20th-minute lead before Mitrovic (26th minute) and Dusan Vlahovic (35th minute) boosted Serbia to a 2-1 advantage. But its foes leveled it at 2-2 behind Breel Embolo's 44th-minute tally and Remo Freuler scored the game-winner in the 48th minute.

After this friendly, Serbia will return to action when they host Lithuania in UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying on March 24 before visiting Montenegro in another qualifier three days later.


Serbia has never lost to the USA in three encounters.

In the first meeting between the two sides, Serbia, then known as Yugoslavia, registered a 9-1 triumph over the U.S. in the quarterfinals at the Melbourne Summer Olympics on Nov. 28, 1956. Toza Veselinovic and Muhamed Mujic collected hat-tricks, Sava Antic added a brace and Zlatko Papec had a single tally. The U.S. squad included several National Soccer Hall of Famers, including the legendary Harry Keough and Al Zerhusen, who scored the lone U.S. goal in the 42nd minute, Bill Looby, Ed Murphy and Lloyd Monsen. While Olympic matches aren't included in full international when compiling today's results, they were considered as official national team results back in the day.

Still known as Yugoslavia at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the European side defeated the USMNT in the final Group F match, 1-0, at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes, France on June 25, 1998. Slobodan Komljenovic scored the lone goal in the fourth minute. Dragan Stojkovic, Serbia's current coach, captained the squad that game.

In the most recent match, the teams played to a scoreless draw in San Diego in the first of two games in the USA's annual January camp on Jan. 29, 2017 in Bruce Arena’s first match back as head coach of the USMNT.


Dragan Stojkovic, a former Serbia international, took over the reins of the team on March 3, 2021, and helped the squad qualify Qatar. He has compiled a 14-5-5 record.

The 57-year-old Stojkovic made 84 appearances for the side as a playmaking midfielder, scoring 15 goals. He has competed in the USA before, representing his country at the 1984 Olympics. He also performed in the 1990 and 1998 FIFA World Cups when Serbia was known as Yugoslavia, connecting for a brace in a 2-1 win over Spain in the Round of 16 in the former competition.

He enjoyed a 20-year professional career, starring for Radnicki and Red Star Belgrade in his native country, Marseille (France), Verona (Italy) and with Nagoya Grampus Eight (Japan) from 1994-2001.

Stojkovic, who also served as Serbian Football Association president for four years, entered managing in 2008. He returned to Nagoya Grampus Eight for five years before guiding Guangzhou (China) from 2015-20.


Dragan Stojkovic selected a 17-man roster that was dominated by domestic-based players that have made a combined four international appearances and have not scored a goal.

All three players with international experience perform in MLS. Forward Dejan Joveljic, who competes for the LA Galaxy, has two caps, while goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic (New England Revolution) and Vancouver Whitecaps defender Ranko Veselinovic each have one game under their belts.

Because the match was scheduled outside of a FIFA international window, Stojkovic could not summon a full-strength team. Players such as Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic and Ajax midfielder Dusan Tadic were not called in.

Serbia will field a relatively young squad as all but two players are 25 or under. Defender Nemanja Petrovic (TSC Backa Topola) is 30-years-old and midfielder Veljko Simic (Vojvodina) is 27.

Vozdovac is the most represented Serbian club with four players, followed by TSC Backa Topola (three) and Vojvodina, Cukaricki and Radnicki (two each).


GOALKEEPERS: Đorđe Petrovic (New England Revolution/USA; 1/0), Dragan Rosic (Radnicki)

DEFENDERS: Ranko Veselinovic (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/USA; 1/0), Nemanja Petrovic (TSC Backa Topola; 0/0), Marko Mijailovic (Vozdovac; 0/0), Nemanja Stojic (TSC Bačka Topola; 0/0), Filip Damjanovic (Voždovac; 0/0)

MIDFIELDERS: Veljko Simic (Vojvodina; 0/0), Luka Ilic (TSC Backa Topola; 0/0), Mirko Topic (Vojvodina; 0/0), Luka Bijelovic (Spartak Subotica; 0/0), Marko Ivezic (Vozdovac; 0/0), Vladimir Lucic (Cukaricki; 0/0), Milos Pantovic (Vozdovac; 0/0), Nikola Petkovic (Čukaricki; 0/0)

FORWARDS: Dejan Joveljic (LA Galaxy/USA; 2/0), Nikola Stulic (Radnicki; 0/0)

Go Deeper