CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Tuesday, October 18, 2011
In a rematch of arguably the second most thrilling U.S. game since the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. National Team will face Slovenia in Ljubljana, Slovenia on November 15.
Their memorable meeting in the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa was rife with emotion and suspense as the U.S. fell behind 2-0 in the first half. Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic capitalized on defensive collapses to seemingly put a massive dent in the Americans' hopes for advancing past the group stage.
A terrific second half comeback with a 48th minute goal from Landon Donovan and a dramatic 82nd minute goal from Michael Bradley would be some of the highlights of the tournament, along with the still controversial phantom foul that denied Maurice Edu the winning goal late in the game.
This will be the first time the National Team has played in Slovenia, and the first time visiting Eastern Europe since they met Slovakia on November 14, 2009, in a game the United States lost 1-0.
The November 15 meeting will be the second leg of the November friendlies, with the first coming against France, in Paris on November 11.
The Slovenians could call up a very similar side to the one that the U.S. last faced, with 10 of the 11 starters from that game recently suiting up in Euro 2012 Qualifiers, including Birsa and Ljubijankic. While Slovenia narrowly missed out on advancing to the group stage, they will be looking to restore a bit of pride by giving the Americans a game on home soil.
Overall, the track record for American results in Eastern Europe is almost non-existent in the past decade, visiting Poland in 2004 and 2008, winning each time. This trip could perhaps open the door to more visits to Eastern Europe, where soccer development has finally matured through the settling of social unrest in many regions.