Former US college star Vedad Ibisevic looking forward to match vs. USMNT
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — One day he hopes to become an American, but on Wednesday night forward Vedad Ibisevic will look to heap misery on Jurgen Klinsmann's men when they take on Bosnia-Herzegovina in a high-profile international friendly.
Ibisevic, a current US green-card holder and former college star in the US at St. Louis University, is expected to start for Bosnia against the Americans when the two nations meet for the first time at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium (2:30 pm ET, ESPN2 and UniMas with live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
His family still lives in St. Louis, where Ibisevic spent four years through high school and college before signing to play in Europe at the age of 20.
"Yeah, it's definitely a special game for me because I used to live in the States and I also played on the college level over there," he told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. "So I definitely feel a little special to be playing against USA."
The now 29-year-old forward has plied his trade in Germany since 2006 and is considered one of the top strikers in the Bundesliga as he enters his second full season at VfB Stuttgart.
For those wondering whether Ibisevic ever came close to representing the USA, the forward revealed that his ex-college coach with the St. Louis Billikens, Mike Sorber, contacted him when he became an assistant coach for Bob Bradley on the US national team. Although he wasn't a US citizen, it wouldn't have mattered.
"[Sorber] did talk to me about it and he also mentioned the possibility of me getting called up for the first team," Ibisevic said. "But it was in the same week when I was called up for the Bosnia national team and for me it was clear that I wanted to play for Bosnia."
Ibisevic eventually made his debut for Bosnia on March 24, 2007, in a Euro 2008 qualifier. Today he is on the cusp of a World Cup with Bosnia, riding high at the top of Europe's Group G.
Although he may be overshadowed on the national team by the star of his Bosnia strike partner, Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, the US will regret it Wednesday if they overlook the Stuttgart man, who scored 15 Bundesliga goals last season.
"I expect a very difficult game because the US have a very good team that has grown up," Ibisevic said. "They won most of their last games and they have a pretty serious team now and I'm hoping to beat them still, but expecting a very difficult game."
Whatever the result on Wednesday and however many goals Ibisevic may score, his close ties with the USA remain steadfast. In fact he visits at least twice a year to spend time with his family in St. Louis, but he might be tempted for an even longer stay in the future, possibly in MLS.
"You never know. MLS is getting bigger every year and getting more interesting for all the players," Ibisevic said. "You never know. My parents and family still live in St. Louis, so everything is possible."