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Monday, November 4, 2013

If We're Such a Soccer Town, Why Doesn't St. Louis Have a Major League Soccer Team?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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In the meantime, soccer experts agree hosting such quality exhibition games puts St. Louis on a short list of American soccer cities.

"As a community, it's a chance to show that we can support the game," says Barry. "Any time we have these opportunities, it's in our best interest to put our best foot forward." Hammond says the November 18 game between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina is "an opportunity" for fans who want more professional soccer in the Lou.

See also: Kicking + Screaming

"It's a call to arms to all the soccer fans to go to the game and show that you're a soccer town," Hammond says. "Especially if you don't have an MLS team in your town in order to see world class soccer players and teams, that's something that any soccer fan should take advantage of."

Team Bosnia. Vedad Ibisevic is third from the left on the top row. - ULICAR STREETS ON FLICKR

This month's game is sure to draw some serious crowds. Not only is Messi one of the most popular athletes in the game, Bosnia's Vedad Ibisevic, who played soccer in St. Louis at Roosevelt High School and Saint Louis University, is a hometown hero to St. Louis' large population of Bosnian immigrants.

Last month, Ibisevic, 29, scored the only goal in a game qualifying Bosnia's national team for soccer's ultimate contest, the World Cup, for the first time since the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Whether St. Louis ends up on the MLS roster or not, the city has proven itself as a soccer-lover's destination. A recent article on MLSsoccer.com wonders if St. Louis is the "up-and-coming soccer mecca of the USA."

"I think it's a compliment to St. Louis that we're included on the list [of cities hosting friendlies], and I think it's a result of our fanbase," Barry says. "Obviously the last two events here have been extremely successful. I think it makes sense for promoters to bring the game back to St. Louis."

Fans can purchase tickets at the Busch Stadium box office or by calling 314-345-9000.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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