The USMNT began 2023 with a frustrating 2-1 friendly defeat to Serbia at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, taking the lead through Brandon Vazquez's powerfully snapped header before clear defensive errors ruined Anthony Hudson's debut as interim manager.
With all six substitutions being made by the 73rd minute, quite a few players graced the pitch without making much of an impression. Club América winger Alejandro Zendejas went the full 90 on the right, but the 24-year-old's talent only came through in flashes.
The main point of this exercise was looking at the young ballers — eight players got their first cap — and here's how it went.
3 who impressed
It looks like Cowell is about to have a monstrous season in MLS. He was America's most exciting player in the opening 45, creating chances, ripping an effort just wide and sending his marker to the floor with a rapid dribble.
In the second half, he struck both posts in a 30-second span before whistling another one past the woodwork. The 19-year-old looked like a man amongst boys. He was taken off in the 73rd minute for Paul Arriola.
The posts deny Cade Cowell TWICE ❌ pic.twitter.com/yWqbqFFHNk
Right back Julian Gressel put the ball in and Vazquez attacked it with a darting run and unstoppable finish. The 24-year-old got a goal on his debut before making way for Matthew Hoppe in the 63rd.
Brandon Vazquez scores on his USMNT debut pic.twitter.com/Cz4Etf06Tf
The 18-year-old Slonina became the youngest-ever starting goalkeeper for the USMNT, and he recorded four saves on the night.
THIS KID GAGA pic.twitter.com/4gZYi2YuEn— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023
The Chelsea teen won't be happy with conceding twice, but those goals were down to errors from the two center backs in front of him.
1 who didn't
The most experienced player on the U.S. roster looked fine in the opening stages — heading the ball more than anyone else on the field (Zimmerman things) — but then he betrayed Gaga by abandoning his place in the wall on Luka Ilić's poorly struck free kick.
Luka Ilić sneaks it through the wall to level it for Serbia pic.twitter.com/XLlIu2XL0k
Jalen Neal, the other starting center back, was at fault for the second, but the LA Galaxy defender is only 19 and was making his debut.
Serbia take the 2-1 lead just 45 seconds into the second half pic.twitter.com/Rmo5v06yR1