The United States Men’s National Team kicked off 2023 with a closely fought 2-1 loss to Serbia at LAFC’s BMO Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Returning to action following their run to the 2022 World Cup round-of-16, an experimental Stars and Stripes side led by Anthony Hudson took the lead inside the opening half-hour with FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez heading home an excellent cross from Julian Gressel.
The former Atlanta United duo have long waited for their USMNT debuts, with the latter also receiving US citizenship last year, so it was the perfect way to introduce themselves.
However, the USMNT couldn’t hold onto their lead, with Serbia coming back and moving ahead with goals just either side of half-time from Luka Ilic and Veljko Simic.
The US dominated statistically with 62% possession and 20 shots to Serbia’s 11. However, they couldn’t make their chances count and ultimately opened 2023 in defeat.
GK: Gabriel Slonina (7); RB: Julian Gressel (8), CB: Walker Zimmerman (5), CB: Jalen Neal (5), LB: Jonathan Gomez (6); CM: Aidan Morris (7), CM: Paxton Pomykal (6), CM: Alan Sonora (7); RW: Alex Zendejas (6), ST: Brandon Vazquez (8), LW: Cade Cowell (8)
Subs: Aaron Long (6), Eryk Williamson (7), DeJuan Jones (7), Matthew Hoppe (5), Kellyn Acosta (6), Paul Arriola (7)
Head coach: Anthony Hudson (6)
The star of Gabriel Slonina rose a little higher on Thursday night as the teenage goalkeeper made his long-awaited debut for the senior national team.
Already, Slonina is impressing in training with Premier League giants Chelsea, fresh after his transfer from the Chicago Fire.
You’ll be hearing a lot more of Slonina’s name in years to come and on Wednesday, at just 18 years and 255 days old, he made history as the youngest goalkeeper to debut for the USMNT, beating the previous record holder and national team legend Tony Meola, who first donned the jersey at 19 years and 106 days old.
Slonina enjoyed a strong debut, making four saves – including a standout double stop in the 31st minute – while he couldn’t be faulted for either Serbia goal.
This is just the start for GAGA, who looks set to become the United States and Chelsea No.1 in years to come.