Monday, June 24, 2024

USMNT falls to Serbia as 8 players make senior team debuts

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  • Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, right, celebrates after scoring during the...

    Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, right, celebrates after scoring during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, center, celebrates after scoring past Serbia...

    Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, center, celebrates after scoring past Serbia goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA fans cheer after a goal during the first...

    Team USA fans cheer after a goal during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, right, smiles after scoring during the...

    Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, right, smiles after scoring during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, left, celebrates with teammate Walker Zimmerman...

    Team USA’s Brandon Vazquez, left, celebrates with teammate Walker Zimmerman after scoring during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • U.S. soccer fans cheer after the team scored during the...

    U.S. soccer fans cheer after the team scored during the first half of an exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Nikola Petkovic, right, goes up for the header as...

    Serbia’s Nikola Petkovic, right, goes up for the header as Team USA’s Cade Cowell defends during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Aidan Morris dribbles the ball up the field...

    Team USA’s Aidan Morris dribbles the ball up the field during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic leaps to try to block a...

    Serbia goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic leaps to try to block a shot during the first half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic leaps to try to block a...

    Serbia goalkeeper Dorde Petrovic leaps to try to block a shot during the first half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) scores against Team USA during the...

    Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) scores against Team USA during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) scores against Team USA during the...

    Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) scores against Team USA during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) scores against Team USA during the...

    Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) scores against Team USA during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA players show their frustration after Serbia’s Luka Ilic...

    Team USA players show their frustration after Serbia’s Luka Ilic (not pictured) scored during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Luka Ilic, left, celebrates after scoring during the first...

    Serbia’s Luka Ilic, left, celebrates after scoring during the first half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring during...

    Serbia’s Luka Ilic (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the first half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • A Serbia fan holds up a sign during the first...

    A Serbia fan holds up a sign during the first half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Nikola Petkovic, right, kicks the ball as Team USA’s...

    Serbia’s Nikola Petkovic, right, kicks the ball as Team USA’s Paxton Pomykal defends during the first half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA goalkeeper Gaga Slonina blocks a shot during the...

    Team USA goalkeeper Gaga Slonina blocks a shot during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA goalkeeper Gaga Slonina is treated by medical staff...

    Team USA goalkeeper Gaga Slonina is treated by medical staff during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Aidan Morris, left, plays the ball off his...

    Team USA’s Aidan Morris, left, plays the ball off his head during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia goalkeeper Dragon Rosic blocks a shot over the crossbar...

    Serbia goalkeeper Dragon Rosic blocks a shot over the crossbar during the second half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Interim U.S. head coach Anthony Hudson, center, watches from the...

    Interim U.S. head coach Anthony Hudson, center, watches from the sidelines during the second half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Eryk Williamson plays the ball off his head...

    Team USA’s Eryk Williamson plays the ball off his head during the second half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Kellyn Acosta, right, and Serbia’s Nikola Stulic battle...

    Team USA’s Kellyn Acosta, right, and Serbia’s Nikola Stulic battle for the ball during the second half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia head coach Dragan Stojković, center, looks on from the...

    Serbia head coach Dragan Stojković, center, looks on from the sidelines during the second half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Marko Mijailovic plays the ball off his head during...

    Serbia’s Marko Mijailovic plays the ball off his head during the second half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Aaron Long goes up for a header during...

    Team USA’s Aaron Long goes up for a header during the second half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia goalkeeper Dragon Rosic saves a shot during the second...

    Serbia goalkeeper Dragon Rosic saves a shot during the second half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Ranko Veselinovic plays a header behind Team USA’s Matthew...

    Serbia’s Ranko Veselinovic plays a header behind Team USA’s Matthew Hoppe during the second half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA’s Kellyn Acosta, right, dribbles the ball up the...

    Team USA’s Kellyn Acosta, right, dribbles the ball up the field as Serbia’s Milos Pantovic defends during the second half of their exhibition match on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA fans look on during the second half of...

    Team USA fans look on during the second half of the team’s exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Serbia’s Nemanja Petrovic controls the ball during the second half...

    Serbia’s Nemanja Petrovic controls the ball during the second half of their exhibition match against the United States on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Interim U.S. soccer coach Anthony Hudson, right, watches during the...

    Interim U.S. soccer coach Anthony Hudson, right, watches during the second half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Team USA fans cheer during the first half of their...

    Team USA fans cheer during the first half of their exhibition match against Serbia on Wednesday night at BMO Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Men’s National Team started anew Wednesday night, without a full-time coach but with a lot of fresh faces looking to force their way into the mix.

The starting lineup had seven players making their national team debut (an eighth debuted as a sub), including Galaxy defender Jalen Neal. There was also a lot of youth on the field at BMO Stadium, with nine of the 11 players 24 or younger.

The end result was the U.S. coming down on the wrong end of a 2-1 result in its first game since a Round of 16 loss to the Netherlands at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Wednesday’s loss was the first for the U.S. on home soil since 2019.

“I have to say, overall, I was pleased with the performance,” U.S. interim coach Anthony Hudson said. “Going a goal behind, I thought the reaction to that was really good. I thought we were showed a lot of bravery. I’m disappointed with the result, but the way they went about the game and that was pleasing for me.”

The night started well for the Americans as dual national Brandon Vazquez opened the scoring on a header in the 29th minute. A San Diego native who could play for the U.S. or Mexico, he became the 59th player to score in his U.S. debut.

Vazquez, who many thought deserved a shot at being on the World Cup roster, scored 19 goals last season for FC Cincinnati.

“Last year, I was just doing everything possible that I could control to give myself the best opportunity to get into the World Cup roster,” he said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way, but we just have to shake it off and start all over again and that’s what exactly what I’m doing now. Starting fresh.”

Serbia sent the game into halftime tied at 1-1 on a free kick goal by Luka Ilic in the 43rd.

Just moments after halftime, Serbia grabbed the lead as Veljko Simic took advantage of a moment of miscommunication by the U.S. defense and buried his chance for what proved to be the winning goal.

“Generally, I think it was a very good game from both sides,” Serbian coach Dragan Stojkovic said. “We created a lot of chances, you saw three goals (in the game), the pace of the game was very good and I’m very satisfied with our play and with the result.

“It’s always good to win if you can. After a long trip from Europe, it wasn’t easy, we had just three practices and I’m very satisfied with what they did on the pitch.”

Cade Cowell (San Jose) was the most lively offensive threat in the second half for the U.S. In one brief moment, he rang a shot off of each post and a third attempt, as he was cutting in from the wing, rolled just wide of the goal.

Galaxy forward Dejan Joveljic also made his senior national team debut for Serbia. Joveljic scored 11 goals in MLS competition last season and 12 across all competitions.

Stojkovic called Joveljic “The Future” of the Serbian national team. Joveljic has called himself the Future of the Galaxy.

Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) was the lone World Cup veteran in the starting lineup. Zimmerman wore the captain’s armband.

Alejandro Zendejas made his U.S. senior team debut after spending the previous six years as a Mexican international. The Club América forward, a teammate of Christian Pulisic on the 2015 Under-17 team, rejoined the U.S. program but still hasn’t decided where he’ll play in the long term.

Julian Gressel, a 29-year-old German fullback who gained U.S. citizenship last year, became the oldest player to make his first appearance for the American team since Chris Pontius in January 2017.

The American team is in transition with Hudson running the show while the U.S. Soccer Federation determines the future of coach Gregg Berhalter, whose contract expired at the end of last year. Hudson is using the team’s annual January camp and the accompanying exhibitions to give experience to a new crop of prospects. The U.S. uses youngsters and MLS players in its winter camp, which falls outside a FIFA international window.

The U.S. next faces Colombia on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park.

FIRST @USMNT GOAL OF 2023! 🔥 @Brvndonv scores on his debut on an assist from Julian Gressel 👏🇺🇸

(via @USMNT) pic.twitter.com/KyT5NW3JYx

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) January 26, 2023

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