BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The Czech Liga is not a place that has frequent American players but Nermin Crnkic is trying to help steer Znojmo to safety in a potential relegation battle this season.
Crnkic, 21, was born in Bosnia but fled to Germany during the civil war soon after he was born. In 2000 he moved to the United States where he became an American citizen when he was 16. He attended high school in Kentwood, Michigan where he graduated in 2011.
After graduation, Crnkic moved to Sweden to play but returned back to the US where he played with the Michigan Bucks of the PDL in 2012. That year made a name for himself when he scored the extra-time game winning goal against the Chicago Fire in the Open Cup in what would be the biggest upset that in that year's tournament.
Following that season Crnkic had options of where to go with his career but eventually he decided to move overseas.
"I had a couple of MLS team after me but didn't work out," Crnkic told YA. "So then I went to Europe to play. It is better way to be seen and my dream always been playing for a big club in Europe."
He was able to secure a deal with Jablonec of the Czech Liga but in August he was loaned to newly promoted Czech side Znojmo who were in search of players who could help them in a relegation flight.
His loan will run through January 1, 2014 but there is the potential for it to be extended through the end of the season. So far Znojmo sits in 16th place at the bottom of the Czech Liga table but last weekend earned a valuable win over Mladá Boleslav to move within two points of 12th place.
Crnkic has been one of Znojmo's better players recently where he has played primarily on the wings but also occasionally at forward. His idol has always been Cristiano Ronaldo whom he grew up watching at Manchester United. He has tried to model his game after the Portuguese star in being aggressive in one-on-one situations.
For now, however, Crnkic knows he is an important factor in keeping Znojmo's team up in the its first ever year in the top flight.
"Znojmo were a second league team and it's there first time in the big leagues so we will do everything to stay [up]," Crnkic said. "We been playing good and just came off a good win so hope we keep it going."
On the international front, Crnkic is obviously eligible for both Bosnia and the United States even though he has yet to suit up for either team. There are some rumors that he is on the radar for Bosnia's U-21 team but for now he is focused on his club. He does, however, admit to having a preference towards the country of his birth.
"I support both of them but my dream will always be to play for Bosnia," Crnkic admitted.
The topic of international soccer, however, is for another day. Crnkic's top priority will be lifting Znojmo to safety and the next step will come on Saturday when the club visits ninth place Baník Ostrava.