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USA vs. Serbia, 2023 friendly: What to watch for

The United States Men’s National Team begin the calendar year when they step on the field tomorrow to take on Serbia in their first of two January Camp friends. The USMNT is using this camp to welcome several new players into the national team fold, with 11 players participating in their first national team camp. That includes several youngsters who could factor into the player pool for years to come.

They’re taking on a Serbia team that they’ve only seen once before, which was January Camp 2017. The USMNT want to be aggressive in controlling the game and for each of these young players to show that they should be in the equation for USMNT rosters down the road. With Anthony Hudson assuming the coaching duties for this camp as US Soccer evaluates its coaching candidates, we expect an intriguing matchup between these two teams.

Roster

Temporary USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson called in a 24-man roster for this camp:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (Unattached), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea FC)

DEFENDERS (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (Unattached), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

FORWARDS (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America)

latest form

USA

L (1-3) – Netherlands – 2022 World Cup Round of 16

W (1-0) – Iran – 2022 World Cup Group B

D (0-0) – England – 2022 World Cup Group B

D (1-1) – Wales – 2022 World Cup Group B

D (0-0) – Saudi Arabia – Friendly

Serbia

L (2-3) – Switzerland – 2022 World Cup Group G

D (3-3) – Cameroon – 2022 World Cup Group G

L (0-2) – Brazil – 2022 World Cup Group G

W (5-1) – Bahrain – Friendly

W (2-0) – Norway – UEFA Nations League

What To Watch For

Establish possession. The midfield has consistently been the key for moving the ball forward in the USMNT’s favored 4-3-3, and a lot is asked of them. The first thing the midfield needs to do is establish possession and show they can hold it for long stretches as they slice through the Serbian defense.

Take your shot. This has a dual meaning, as the USMNT needs to put shots on frame. It’s been the biggest concern for our national team over the past year. However, for the several players who are in their first camp, it’s about using this opportunity to leave a lasting, positive impression.

The veterans need to lead. There are 5 World Cup veterans – along with Paul Arriola, who narrowly missed out on the World Cup – in this camp, and they need to be the guides for the rest of this young squad. It will only help the newcomers adjust to what’s happening on the field.

Lineup prediction

With it being Anthony Hudson’s first match in charge of the USMNT, it’s unclear who he will be looking at or what his strategy will be. Because the team has mostly been in a 4-3-3 with 2 midfielders essentially playing as 8s, we will likely see this lineup start against Serbia:

Sean Johnson is the favorite to start in goal, with Jonathan Gomez at left back and Julian Gressel at right back. The centerback pairing that many fans are familiar with, Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman, returns to the back line.

In the middle, Kellyn Acosta operates as defensive midfielder, while Paxten Aaronson and Paxton Pomykal (this combo may need a nickname) will try to move the ball forward into attacking positions. Up front, Paul Arriola will occupy the right side, with Cade Cowell on the left wing. Brandon Vasquez will get the opportunity to see what he can do at the 9th.

Prediction

This should be an affair where both teams get on the board. Let’s call it a 1-1 draw.

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