Morning update: USMNT preview, predicted XI, Americans abroad, U-20s
January 25, 2023
IT IS GAMEDAY for the U.S. national team and, thankfully, the focus will return to the field – even if only for a few days. On Tuesday, Anthony Hudson, Alejandro Zendejas, and Gaga Slonina spoke the media ahead of tonight’s game against Serbia in Los Angeles.
Elsewhere, the U.S. U-20 team lost to Nashville in a friendly in Florida. The U.S. U-20 team is preparing for the U-20 World Cup, which opens on May 20.
There were also several Americans in action in Europe on Tuesday and the results were mixed. Finally, MLS preseason rolled on and rosters are still coming into focus.
Hudson discusses camp
Assistant coach Anthony Hudson is in charge of this January camp and he spoke to the media on Tuesday and talked about the unfortunate background of this camp amid investigations into the Reyna family’s conduct in Qatar.
“I've been asked to do this job.. it comes in very strange circumstances, very difficult circumstances,” said Hudson. “It's a shame for everyone who's involved: players, staff, Gregg. Everyone is affected by it. It's not a nice situation."
“Then the camp starts approaching, and, first of all, I've said yes to doing it. My next huge responsibility is to the players. And we know, historically, this camp opens up a space for new players to come in, and we've seen over 30-plus players that have earned their first or second cap in this window in the past and gone on to represent the States in a World Cup.
“This is a camp for opportunity for players. I just keep defaulting back to that, that my responsibility is making sure that I help prepare the players, help the staff prepare for the players, get them ready for the game and put them in a position to succeed. That's what I'm thinking.”
Hudson remains in regular contact with Berhalter and doesn’t know what the future holds for him beyond this camp.
“This is a really difficult situation, and I just fall back on being honest. I have a lot of respect for Gregg, and he gave me this opportunity, so I don't know why my relationship would change. He's still a good man.”
Hudson said the goal was to bringing in young players with a look towards the Olympics and they tried to bring in more dual nationals, who weren’t released by their clubs.
Zendejas still uncommitted
Alejandro Zendejas, 24, is one of the top players in camp after impressing last season at Club America. He arrived at camp after a Man of the Match outing on Saturday with a goal and an assist for Club America in a 2-2 draw with Pumas.
Zendejas has an interesting history. He was part of the U.S. U-17 World Cup team in 2015 when he was with FC Dallas. The following year in 2016, he transferred to Chivas in Mexico where he followed that club’s policy of only employing players who were eligible and willing to play for Mexico. As a result, he turned down U.S. call-ups.
Last year, Zendejas he played for Mexico’s full national team in friendlies. It was assumed he filed for his one-time switch, but he never did. Mexico’s federation has since been fined and forfeited those friendlies. Now Zendejas has accepted a return to the U.S. program.
“A while ago Gregg had started that process and had a conversation with Alejandro,” Hudson said. “I think it was really about timing. When we put the list together, we put names on there and he was one of them where, I have to be honest, I didn't think there was any chance we were going to get him because because he's obviously playing in season right now. When we made the call to the club, the club were amazing, really positive, very supportive of him coming in. I was shocked. But they've been great. And then we spoke to Alejandro and the same thing.”
As for whether Zendejas has completely made his mind up internationally, he told the media repeatedly he was happy for the opportunity to be in this camp and will make a decision whenever the time comes.
My take is that the odds favor the United States if he impresses. He is one of six players from the 2015 U-17 World Cup in the national team pool and has a positive relationship with those players.
“I’m enjoying the moment and the opportunity to be here this week,” Zendejas said. “It’s an honor to be here.”
USMNT – Serbia predictions
With Alejandro Zendejas and Gaga Slonina the focus of U.S. Soccer’s final media event ahead of the game, it seems likely they will start.
The question is whether Hudson starts the veteran players to set the tone and then subs the younger players into the game. That seems likely.
Predicted USMNT XI: Slonina, Gressel, Zimmerman, Long, Tolkin; Acosta, Pomykal, Williamson; Arriola, Vazquez, Zendejas
Likely subs to be used: Rogers, Jones, Sonora, Ferreira, Morris, Aaronson
U.S. U-20 team falls to Nashville
The United States U-20 national team dropped a 2-1 decision to Nashville SC in Florida. Details on the U.S. lineup haven’t been announced yet but Nashville said Fafa Picault scored the opening goal and CJ Sapong scored a late winner off a set piece.
Mikey Varas is obviously not with the team as he is with the full national team. Hudson said Varas is in regular contact with the U-20 team.
“Mikey can be here and while we have the other camp set up,” Hudson said. “There's a lot of communication going on. A lot. I've just been in the locker room now. Mike was on his headset that communicates with the guys out at the 20's camp. Mikey is a good coach and he's been very, very supportive.”
Americans abroad on Tuesday
The biggest story from Americans abroad was not a bit of good news. With Theo Hernandez out for AC Milan, Sergino Dest was given a rare start for AC Milan against Lazio. The U.S. national team right back played 90 minutes on the left side for Milan but struggled during a 4-0 loss. He was not Milan’s biggest problem, but Dest is in a position where he has to impress to convince Milan to pick up its option to by from Barcelona. At this point, it seems unlikely Milan will pick up the option unless it can negotiate a reduction in the option price.
Kevin Paredes played the final 20 minutes for Wolfsburg in a 5-0 rout of Hertha BSC in Berlin. It was the second straight sub appearance for Paredes who has played the tail end of two games where Wolfsburg has won by a combined 11-0 score. He assisted on the fifth goal in the 6-0 win over Freiburg on Saturday. In this game against Hertha, Paredes had a few nice moments but Hertha had already checked out when he entered. It’s tough for Paredes to crack a starting XI that is on fire right now, but the U.S. U-20 winger is in a great spot.
???? BUNDESLIGA BACK HYPE ?? pic.twitter.com/CJLeqDuZbV— VfL Wolfsburg EN/US ???????? ???????? (@VfLWolfsburg_EN) January 20, 2023
Richard Ledezma, 23, was an unused sub for PSV in a surprising 1-0 loss to Eupen on Tuesday. A loan looks increasingly likely for Ledezma this month.
U.S. U-20 defender Justin Che was an unused sub for Hoffenheim in a 2-2 draw with Stuttgart. Che’s loan from Dallas will expire in June. This will be an interesting decision from Hoffenhiem, who will try to gauge Che’s ceiling in the months ahead.
Americans abroad on Wednesday
It’s a busy day for Americans across the globe on Wednesday.
Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund visit Mainz. Reyna is coming off an impressive moment on Saturday when he scored the decisive goal in a 4-3 win over Augsburg.
Djordje Mihailovic and AZ Alkmaar will attempt to move into the Eredivisie lead with a win over Go Ahead Eagles. With Dani de Wit picking up an injury in Saturday’s win over Fortuna Sittard, Mihailovic with a big chance to start.
Also in the Eredivisie, Taylor Booth and Utrecht will look to rebound from a tough 2-0 loss to Twente on Saturday when they host Excelsior.
Also looking to rebound from a tough game is Jordan Pefok who missed a penalty for Union Berlin over the weekend and extended his scoreless drought to 14 games. Union Berlin rallied to defeat Hoffenheim and today they host Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.
Joe Scally will hope to return to the Borussia Monchengladbach starting lineup when they visit Augsburg. M’Gladbach currently sits in eighth place.
Elsewhere, Alex Mighten will hope to make the bench for Nottingham Forest when they host Manchester United in the Premier League. Timothy Chandler will likely be on the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt when they visit Freiburg. In the Gaucho State Cup, Johnny Cardoso and Internacional visit Avenida.