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USA in talks with Iran over friendly

Iran's national team
Iran's national team qualified for the 2014 World Cup back in June.
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Leander Schaerlaeckens

Leander Schaerlaeckens has written about soccer for The New York Times, The Guardian, ESPN The Magazine and World Soccer. Follow him on Twitter.

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AMERICANS OVERSEAS

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FOX Soccer has confirmed that the United States men’s national team and the national team of Iran are in talks about a potential pre-World Cup friendly on American soil, as first reported by NBC News.

“There [have] been preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a USA and Iran match,” Iran’s goalkeepers coach Dan Gaspar, an American citizen, told FOX Soccer in an email. “There is genuine interest on both sides to have this possible match become a reality. Things are in motion and I believe a final decision will be made after the World Cup draw on December 6.”

If the United States and Iran should be drawn into the same group for the World Cup, it is unlikely that they will play each other ahead of the tournament because of tactical considerations.

“For 90 minutes [it’s] an ideal gesture towards diplomacy and could be a launching pad towards respectful, honest and peaceful solutions,” wrote Gaspar. “The world would benefit from such discussions.”

The United States Soccer Federation told FOX Soccer that it has reached out to all nine other countries that have already qualified for the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in Brazil next summer from June 12 through July 13, without specifically targeting Iran as an opponent.

“We’ve reached out to every team that’s qualified for the World Cup because we know that a lot of teams are looking at the possibility of coming to the United States for a pre-World Cup training camp,” said US Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe. “Have we reached out to Iran? Yes. But we’ve talked to all these federations. We’ve reached out to every federation that’s qualified for the World Cup. And we’ll continue to reach out to all the other federations that qualify in the coming month.”

TRAVEL PLANS

Fans and players can now rejoice. USA books World Cup ticket after a long, arduous journey.

Pre-World Cup tune-up games are typically arranged once the draw has been held with teams often seeking to play countries similar in style to their group stage opponents without meeting them directly.

US President Barack Obama and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani spoke on the phone on Sept. 27, the first contact between their countries’ heads of state since diplomatic ties were severed during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979.

The US and Iran have played each other just twice -- once at the 1998 World Cup and once in a friendly in Pasadena, Calif. in 2000.

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