Ah, January camp - a tradition unlike any other. With everything swirling around the USMNT lately, things we shan’t discuss here, it was somewhat of a relief to have a game to discuss. This one even had the benefit of getting some exciting prospects for the future on the pitch for the USA.
The team lined up in a 4-3-3 with the enticing combo of Cade Cowell, Brandon Vazquez, and Alex Zendejas. Alan Sonora in midfield, Jonathan Gomez in defense and Gaga Slonina also added intrigue to the XI.
Our first lineup of 2023.— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
Full Lineup Notes » https://t.co/6r5zmn6qsp pic.twitter.com/KqXpxoGmEK
Meanwhile, Serbia lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with what was effectively a U-23 side of players based in the domestic league and in MLS.
| Стартних pic.twitter.com/Ip3NCaCxa5— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA of Serbia (@FSSrbije) January 26, 2023
In the end, Serbia finished their chances and USA didn’t. After a rocky start the Americans found their footing after the 20th minute. There were shots on target and posts were also rattled, but a second goal would not come.
GIFS OF missed chances
Through the first 10 minutes it was clear that Serbia had a good press and was solid at countering and that the USA was having a tough time settling into the game. There was a lot of sideways passing between the center backs as Serbia cut off passing lanes then an attempt forward would inevitably lead to a loss of possession and then a mad scramble to keep defensive shape.
The Blue, Blue and Blue would settle and begin effectively creating chances. Like this one from Brandon Vazquez who carried on the tradition of USMNT no. 9s having trouble in front of goal.
.@Brvndonv providing danger early! ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/OB5EBW5XOL— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
Not long after that Cade Cowell blasted a shot that could have done the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
Soñora + Cowell linking up pic.twitter.com/2pgNPYkKiE— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
The USA would go up 1-0 as a partnership that seemed surprising if not totally unbelievable between Julian Gressel and Brandon Vazquez produced the first goal of the game.
. @Brvndonv becomes the 59th #USMNT player to score in his debut pic.twitter.com/TbP0ay82DS— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
Serbia came roaring back though and some good linkup play down the left wing led to a chance that Gaga Slonina managed a kick save on.
THIS KID GAGA pic.twitter.com/4gZYi2YuEn— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
It seemed like the teams were headed toward halftime with the score at 1-0 but then Walker Zimmerman forgot how to be in a wall on a free kick and Serbia evened things up.
Luka Ilić sneaks it through the wall to level it for Serbia pic.twitter.com/XLlIu2XL0k— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 26, 2023
After some injury time the teams would go into the locker room for Gatorade and orange slices. The second half began and Aaron Long came in for Walker Zimmerman and almost immediately the defense made a huge error that led to a Serbia goal.
Serbia take the 2-1 lead just 45 seconds into the second half pic.twitter.com/Rmo5v06yR1— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 26, 2023
Cade Cowell almost equalized on two occasions before the hour mark but both of his efforts hit the post. Anthony Hudson would go to his bench at about the hour mark and make several changes.
62' + 63' - More changes for the USA:— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
OFF: Vazquez pic.twitter.com/PmKWiXw3ja
Hey, remember Matthew Hoppe?
A bit later Cowell would make way for Paul Arriola and the game still stayed pretty entertaining for a January friendly with lots of substitutions. The Americans kept pushing forward looking for an equalizer.
No equalizer would come and the game would end with Serbia keeping their lead to make it 2-1. Despite being under an interim manager, the team played well and even looked to have some fun.