USMNT loses to Slovenia: Takeaways from the first friendly of 2024
The U.S. men’s national team endured a disappointing start to 2024, with a 1-0 loss to Slovenia in San Antonio, Texas.
Slovenian Nejc Gradišar scored the only goal, with the USA shutting down despite having 69% possession and outscoring Slovenia 15-9.
what did we learn?
Well, with a roster full of players who have little realistic chance of becoming regular starters in a first-choice group facing a similarly diluted Slovenian side on a less-than-ideal pitch in January, how much can we really learn?
Structurally, the United States played the way Berhalter preferred during his tenure as head coach (for better and worse).
The USA dominated play but didn’t create much with possession, conceding a goal in conversion. One interesting note is that they did not play with a more defined number 10, as the first team did recently with Gio Reyna in that role, and instead opted for three traditional midfielders in a 4-3-3 formation. Diego Luna played as an inverted left winger with the license to move inside to create chances, but he was not a complete No. 10.
Another disappointment was that the starting lineup was not as heavy with Olympic-eligible players as it could have been. Five starters (Patrick Schulte, Diego Luna, Josh Atencio, Bernard Camungo and Aidan Morris) were eligible by age, while the likes of Duncan McGuire, John Tolkien, Jack McGlynn and others were left on the bench to start.
Overall, 11 players made their USMNT debut on Saturday. The performance was disappointing, but there was minimal overlap with the USMNT’s first (and even second) group here.
Which players helped their cause in future tournaments?
Dejuan Jones He started the game at left-back, constantly progressing past Luna, and finished the game at right-back – advancing past Izmir Bajraktarevic. He has been steady and consistent, with the work rate, stamina and physicality needed to fill the end-to-end duties required of a full-back in Berhalter’s system. Being able to play at both right and left back is extremely useful in building a Championship roster.
Unfortunately for him, the Olympians look set to play at fullback with Tolkien and Willie on the left, and possibly Brian Reynolds and Joe Scully on the right. It wouldn’t make sense to use one of the three plus exceptions on another fullback.
Esmir Bajraktarevic He provided an immediate spark after entering the game in the second half. His first participation in his debut for the national team was to beat a Slovenia defender. He was one of the few strikers in Berhalter’s team who was not afraid to take chances and challenge players. Bajrktarević increased his chances of joining the Olympic team.
Bernard Kamongo He had a positive impact on the USMNT before being replaced by Bajraktarevic. He was lively, dynamic and had an impact, although he did not produce an assist and made a huge mistake that led to a counter-attack for Slovenia’s goal. However, he could be a valuable addition to the Olympic team even if he doesn’t win a starting spot, as those qualities fit well with an impact substitute.
Which players may have hurt their cause in future tournaments
Chuck Moore He hasn’t been at his best since joining Nashville and hasn’t done himself any favors in limited minutes at the World Cup. And he didn’t impress again on Saturday. With several options at right-back – Serginio Dest, Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, Reynolds as well as any player from the current U20 and U23 cycles – Moore is likely to be on the outside looking in for the near future.
tim tillman, In his USMNT debut, he hasn’t done much to warrant another call-up anytime soon. He made a one-time move from Germany last year and is eligible for the North American Football Confederation, but at 25, he is ineligible for the Olympics and does not look likely to be in the conversation for the Copa America. .
Brian White He is another over-age player who was always facing an uphill battle to become a regular player, and he did not get a lot of favors to work with, so the impact he could have was restricted.
(Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images)
(Tags for translation) US Men’s National Team