USMNT places younger expertise to check in 2-1 loss to Serbia

In its first recreation for the reason that 2022 FIFA World Cup, the USA males’s nationwide workforce squandered Brandon Vazquez’s first half objective, giving up the lead after which shedding 2-1 Wednesday in a pleasant towards Serbia in Los Angeles. 

Listed below are three fast ideas on the match. 

A disappointing outcome, if not efficiency, for the U.S.

Beginning the massively consequential 2026 World Cup cycle with a defeat is not supreme, to make certain. Even with many of the U.S. regulars busy with their European golf equipment and due to this fact not accessible for this match or Saturday’s exhibition towards Colombia, the U.S. had the extra skilled squad, was taking part in at dwelling, and have been higher than the guests for many of the night time. Neither Serbian objective ought to’ve occurred; each got here following foolish, preventable errors by the People.

Nonetheless, the hosts’ precise play wasn’t in any respect unhealthy — particularly contemplating that interim head coach Anthony Hudson began simply one of many 5 males on his roster who have been a part of the American roster at Qatar 2022. Seven uncapped gamers have been in Hudson’s lineup, probably the most for the USMNT since 1988, and a number of other of them stood out. (Extra on that beneath.)

“Overall I was really pleased with the performance,” Hudson stated. “I loved the fact that players were really driving to get forward and attack.”

The People can have an opportunity to redeem themselves virtually straight away, with the Cafeteros up subsequent in close by Carson, California in simply three days.

Cowell, Slonina, Vazquez, Zendejas impress

Vazquez had 19 targets in 35 MLS video games (together with playoffs) final season. That made the 24-year-old the highest scoring American within the league, eking out Jesús Ferreira by a single strike. However not like Ferreira, World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter did not take Vazquez to Qatar and even summon him for a glance earlier than the match — a questionable determination then and much more now with the advantage of hindsight.

Showing in his first worldwide match on Wednesday, it took Vazquez fewer than half-hour to notch his first worldwide objective. It was a magnificence, too. Off a cross from fellow debutant Julian Gressel, the imposing goal ahead deftly snapped his header into the far nook.

“It was an outstanding header,” Hudson stated. “I’m really, really pleased for Brandon because he’s obviously had to be patient.”

The U.S. is in determined want of dependable finishers between now and the following World Cup, which might be co-hosted by the U.S. together with North American neighbors Canada and Mexico. Different candidates will certainly emerge over the following three and a half years. With a perfectly taken objective within the first recreation of the brand new cycle, Vazquez has already began to make his case.

He wasn’t the one American who impressed Wednesday. Chelsea prospect Gaga Slonina made a number of key stops in objective and likewise grew to become the youngest U.S. keeper ever, breaking Tony Meola’s 35-year-old report. Membership América standout Alex Zendejas was nearly as good as marketed. And winger Cade Cowell was in all probability probably the most harmful U.S. attacker of all, beating Serbian backstop Djordje Petrovic — however not the put up — twice within the second half. 

“He deserved a goal,” Hudson stated of Cowell. “Tonight was another step forward for him.” 

The main focus returns to the sector

There’s at all times a low-key feeling to the USMNT’s annual January camp, what with many of the participant pool unavailable. This specific year-opening get-together is totally different in that it got here on the heels of a full-blown scandal involving Berhalter and the mother and father of one of many program’s brightest prospects, Gio Reyna. On the eve of Wednesday’s contest, Hudson admitted that the saga had weighed on the gamers, notably the 5 members of this squad who helped the U.S. attain the spherical of 16 on the World Cup.

It was solely factor anybody has wished to speak about for weeks. The match towards Serbia lastly returned the dialog to soccer. There’s nonetheless no full-time coach, in fact, with Berhalter’s doable return contingent on the result of an impartial investigation into the matter. However for the primary time because it exploded into public view, the Berhalter-Reyna fiasco fortunately appeared principally secondary on Wednesday. Regardless of the 12 months opening loss, the main target was again the place it belongs.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer author for FOX Sports activities. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a employees author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities and he has lined United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Observe him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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