Report: USMNT to face Iran in friendly match

IranNationalTeam1-Lebanon (Getty)


For only the third time ever, the U.S. Men’s National Team could be taking on Iran in an international friendly match.

According to a report in Italian publication Gazzetta Dello Sport, the two nation’s soccer associations have agreed to take part in a four team tournament, that will reportedly also involve a country from Europe and from South America. The time and date of the tournament has yet to be determined.

U.S. Soccer has yet to make an official announcement on the friendly match.

“We received approval from the (U.S. Soccer Federation) for a tournament that will involve both national teams,” Iranian FA president Ali Kafashian said to Gazzetta.

While the USA and Iran continued to be locked in long-term political tensions since the overthrow of the U.S. supported Shah in 1979 and the hostage crisis that followed, the two countries’ soccer teams have met on the field twice previously. Iran triumphed over the USA in the 1998 World Cup by a score of 2-1, and the teams drew, 1-1, in a rematch two years later at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Back in 2009, U.S. Soccer reportedly tried to set up a friendly match against Iran in the capital Tehran ahead of the 2010 World Cup, but was unsuccessful.

Both Iran and the USA have already secured qualification to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Nothing has been announced officially on the reported friendly.


What do you think of this report? Do you see this match happening? Would you be interested in playing Iran or should the USSF avoid the match due to the political implications?

Share your thoughts below.

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110 Responses to Report: USMNT to face Iran in friendly match

  1. Rory says:

    Play the match. Nixon sent ping pong teams to China, sports can build bridges. Still can’t help wonder if that proposed 2010 match was some part of a cover for spy operations though, remember how there was a run there where we’d go play in Central America and suddenly there would be an uprising shortly after we left? Was Honduras or Costa Rica last time?

    Oh well, play the match, would be a good learning experience as we could face them in the World Cup.

    • kev says:

      got a great point. Honduras it was I believe. summer 2009?

      • Dirk McQuigley says:

        No you have it backwards. The uprising started before the match. I believe the State Department had even issued an advisory about traveling to Honduras. And extra security was ordered for the US MNT.

  2. Marcus says:

    Out of curiosity, who’d be hosting this tournament?

  3. dcpohl says:

    It’s kind of interesting that they’d set up an informal 4 team friendly tournament. Is there precedent for this?

  4. David says:

    It would be something to give the January camp more meaning that just running around in circles to build fitness. A Scandinavian squad based on domestic players and the same from a country like Colombia, Venezuela, or Bolivia for example might be possible. Playing 3 games would simulate group play at the World Cup.

  5. beto says:

    interesting.. not sure when they could fit in a three game series, it would have to be in the summer before the gold cup. glad to see the iran fixture reset.

    the reports out of italy.. would italy be the host or the european team?

  6. JC says:

    My guess is that it will be in late May 2014 in preparation for the WC. With US and IRAN both qualified, they will probably look to add two more qualified countries after the draw.

  7. Mike in Austin says:

    My guess is this tournament will take the place of the send off series the US has done before most World Cups, but I wonder if plans could change if we ended up in the same WC group.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Teams could train here, and then you could play the tournament or just the last games in Florida, travel to Brazil from there.

    • Tim S. says:

      I hope not. The US should wait for the draw and play opponents that play a similar style to each of the other teams in their group for the sendoff series.

  8. Eugene says:

    This seems very politically motivated to me right now

    • Dinho says:


    • wood chip zip says:

      I dont think so. The US does not mix politics with sports, other than that one awful guy who boycotted the 1980 olympics. Iran has no history of sports. Between those two, I think this is just good marketing by both teams. US shows it keeps sports and politics separate. Iran shows it can compete with the US in a sport.

      • Riggity says:

        The Us doesn’t mix politics with sports???? Have you ever watched the Olympics??? Wow

        • wood chip zip says:

          Hey rickety have you ever paid attention to every other country on earth and see how their goverment gets involved with their olympic teams while ours does not.

        • Paul Miller says:

          Do you believe in miracles?

          Somehow, if the Swedes instead of the Soviets were viewed as the best hockey team in the world, and our college all-stars beat them, I don’t see that going down as one of the greatest sports moments ever.

  9. Ilya says:

    US should play African teams! We had very harsh experience with Ghana for the two previous WC. I’m surprised that JK is not looking for it.

  10. ben says:

    Good chance they will back out at the last hour just to snub us. Their official policy is the USA is the Great Satan. Why would we want to play them?

    • mouf says:

      all we did was overthrow their elected prime minister and installed a brutal Shah for purposes completely separate of anything they themselves did or were doing

      they are recognizing our greatness, btw

      • 20 says:

        Under the Prime Minister Iran’s oil industry was nationalized which would have actually put some of the money and benefits back into the poor Iranian population. Obviously us imperialist westerners couldn’t have that so we got rid of their democratically elected leader. If we had not done that, who knows if Iran would be the pain it is today. Not the worst thing the USA has ever done or even the worst coup (Chile led to more people being tortured and killed because of US involvement), but it’s up there.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        Yes, but he also gained power shortly after his predecessor was assassinated in murky circumstances. And he also suspended parliament indefinitely and declared 18 months of emergency rule. And his decision to nationalize the oil industry involved a massive seizure of assets not belonging to Iran or any Iranian (see: theft). And that the overthrow involved the already existing Shah taking power.

        It was VERY wrong of us to do what we did, but a bit more complicated than you make it sound. When their elected prime minister is elected after the predecessor is assassinated and then quickly dissolves parliament and suspends elections, that seems questionable, no?

      • Herb says:

        So naive

    • mouf says:

      did you get upset that we played Bosnia and Herzegovina?

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Good chance we will back out at the last hour just to snub us. Our official policy is the Iran is the Axis of Evil. Why would they want to play us?

    • FSegaud says:

      Eh…they showed up in 2000 to play the USA in a friendly…

      in LOS ANGELES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I’m sure they thought of the USA as the Great Satan back then.

      I never saw so many Mercedes Benz in a parking lot.

  11. Zimmer says:

    They’re cool now guys. They admitted the holocaust actually happened. We can call up all of our Jewish players for the game.

  12. MiamiAl says:

    I was in France in 1998, and that loss still sticks in my craw. Any chance we can get for revenge is great in my mind.

  13. 2tone says:

    Hmm, not much details here. Is it in 2014? Or after the WC? I know the January camp has already been decided on between LA and Brasil. Maybe it’s going to happen in Brasil for the January Camp.

  14. Rory says:

    Pretty safe Bet that Israel won’t be one of the teams in this tournament.

    • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

      I think we’re Israeli enough for them

      • Travis in Miami says:

        Nice 😉

      • Helium-3 says:

        USSF should call up Johnny B for this game just to wind up the Iranians.

        Ironic they are wearing uniforms and cleats made from an infidel country.

        Is the Iron Sheik going to be there with his Iran #1, Russia #1, USA (spits) ?

        • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

          That would be horrible. Any one deserves merit to be called up that happens to be Jewish so be it though. Felihaber is a little down in the depth chart but has been playing well

  15. Pingunça says:

    Obama gets on the phone with President Hassan Rouhani….. Mitt never woulda pulled that off

  16. Josh D says:

    In a perfect world, soccer brings people together. Unfortunately, this is the real world and soccer has as much of a chance to make things worse. Either way, we’d potentially face them at the World Cup so this is a great opportunity to test our boys against a fellow WC team; especially if part of the tournament is down in Brazil. Get acclimated now!

    Whether we play Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, etc., all the politics should be removed the moment the whistle starts. Don’t turn soccer players into heroes, victims, saviors, spies, peacemakers, etc.

    Though I’d love a “Tournament of Peace” between Iran, us, Russia, and Israel. Talk about movie-in-the-making… Disney would send script writers.

    • ken garner says:

      Well said. Politics should have no role in sports.

    • Tim S. says:

      I don’t think we are playing an Asian nation at the World Cup. The way the pots look to be shaking out, the four CONCACAF teams (or 3 plus New Zealand) will probably be in a pot with the 4 Asian teams (Jordan will NOT beat the 5th place South American team in a playoff). The 3 non-seeded South American teams will be in with the 5 African teams. That will leave the US playing against a seeded team, one of the 8 non-seeded European teams, and a team from South America or Africa. Not set in stone, but the numbers make too much sense to do it any other way if the seeds go the way they are looking to now.

  17. jdub says:

    Saw Ricardo Clark yesterday at the store and could only think about his giveaway against Ghana in SA. That game still pisses me off.

    • Jesse D says:

      Bradley’s fault for having Clark in the game. Everyone knew it was a bad idea.

      • jdub says:

        I asked him if he thought he’d get called up as backup…he laughed and said no.

      • Bearded Soccer says:

        And Holden was available… this was immediately before his breakout season with Bolton in midfield.

      • Joamiq says:

        No one could have known just how bad he’d be though. And to Bradley’s credit, he removed him in the first half, which you never see for a tactical sub.

        • Dennis says:

          Agreed, only a year earlier, Clark was an effective destroyer who helped keep Spain from bouncing back in the Con. Fed. cup.

  18. Ssss says:

    Death to Iran?

  19. Good Jeremy says:

    I’m pumped. I have a great respect for the people and culture of Iran and I hope that this can at least make us friendlier towards each other.

    • Riggity says:


    • Riggity says:

      I bet 90 minutes of soccer will fix everything. I forsee their leader deciding America isn’t so bad after we bash their brains in…you have to be insane or an Iranian-American to think this is a good idea.

      • Ross says:

        So your saying you’re not going to watch the game?

        The more US games the better. Plus a tournament style 6-8 months before the WC, that’s awesome.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        Or maybe I’m a rational person who doesn’t wish for perpetual conflict.
        I didn’t say it would fix anything, but what is the risk? How could this make our relationship worse? How could this give Iran an upperhand in any way? If you want to think of this only as a government jab then go for it, but please explain your rationale instead of just name calling.

        And who says we will bash their brains in? They have beat us in our recent matchups, we don’t know where the game will be, and dropping a contest 3-1 against Costa Rica doesn’t exactly make us a powerhouse.

      • Paula says:

        Because the Iranians don’t understand how sports and sports competitions work.

        Jeez, dude. I bet the Iranians want to get an opportunity to play with a team that’s a bit higher up on the FIFA rankings, no matter where they come from, just like most teams who want to get better.

  20. meromasta says:

    It’s a great idea for both teams marketing wise. With recent events, such as the phone call, making people pay attention to the whole Iran – US drama, both country soccer Feds are taking advantage of that.

    I know I’ll see it in the TODAY show if the game happens. Good timing.

  21. Brett-- Son of Stephen says:

    So it finally comes out what they really talked about during that 15 minute conversation.

    • Kingsly Alexander - Man Rey - Plotinus - Sankt Pauli! says:

      I wonder football is a powerful medium to a means. the first sport truly helps the globalization effort to a realization

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

      Well done…Any coincidence that Obama was seen showing off his soccer skills recently? I don’t think so!

  22. louis z says:

    so, where is this “tournament” going to be played?

  23. bryan says:

    say what you will behind the politics of it, but Iran will be at the World Cup. not a terrible idea to play them. i’m interested to see who they get for the other two teams, as well as the rest of the details regarding this tournament.

  24. Ian says:

    Football diplomacy. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

  25. Todd says:

    Lets just hope that war does not break out before then, or else this game will not happen.

  26. Coke says:

    So Qatar bad but Iran good?
    Got it.

  27. dan says:

    They try to make nukes and we award them? WTF

    • Joamiq says:

      Sense: your comment makes none.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Fun fact: The United States is the only country ever to use nuclear weapons. Ever.

      That’s not to say they shouldn’t have been used, but it does point out a bit of a double standard.

  28. Darin says:

    Argo 2: Deuce Strikes Back

  29. Ted in MN says:

    Get Bob Bradley’s Egypt in there, bring the Russians, call up Robbie Rogers and we’ll solve all the world’s problems in one go. I wonder how John Boehner is on set pieces?

    I kid I kid.

  30. Master of the Obvious says:

    Soccer games have nothing to do with foreign policy.

  31. MJM says:

    This is an excellent opportunity to show two nations that we have much in common, in spite of geopolitics. Hurray.

  32. Joamiq says:

    This is a good decision. World Cup team from a region we’re not all that familiar with. Should be a good experience.

  33. Brandon says:

    6 team tournament. US, Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, England, Make it happen, Sunil.