Preview: USA – Serbia

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A MLS-heavy squad of USMNT players will take the field on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, California, for a friendly against a largely uncapped Serbian squad consisting of domestic and North American-based players.

With the World Cup having ended barely over one month ago and US Soccer in a very public state of disarray in recent weeks, it would be easy to forget that the traditional “Camp Cupcake” is happening in southern California, and will feature a pair of friendly games against foreign visitors.

While technically Wednesday’s game kicks off the 2026 World Cup cycle, most of the American stars, namely nearly all of the prominent European-based players, are absent from the roster for Wednesday.

More conspicuously missing from the scene is a permanent head coach, as the position remains in flux while ongoing investigations into long-past and recent actions of several people around the program carry on.

As a result, USMNT assistants Anthony Hudson and B.J. Callaghan along with U-20 head coach Mikey Varas are currently running the show.

The 24-man roster that was selected for this camp is a mixture of several prominent MLS-based, national team regulars, alongside several newcomers and seeing European castaways.

The question will be what to expect from the trio of coaches when they select their starters at 10pm eastern time.

While some of the experienced veterans like keeper Sean Johnson, defenders Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long, midfielder Kellyn Acosta and forwards Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira are logical choices to be in the starting XI, some new faces will undoubtedly also line up from the opening whistle.

Two names that American fans will be clamouring to see in the front line are center forward Brandon Vazquez and Alejandro Zendejas, who seem to have committed their futures to the Stars and Stripes after reported pursuits from the southern neighbors.

U-20 star Cade Cowell, who has been a standout for San Jose in MLS and is also reportedly a target of El Tri will also be an intriguing addition to the senior team, likely one that was driven by Varas, however it would be more likely to see him used in a substitute role against the Serbians.

A number of uncapped players will undoubtedly get their chance to take the field wearing the US jersey. One to watch for is New York Red Bulls defender John Tolkin, who is heavily rumored to be headed abroad during the current window.

While the US program has never beaten Serbia in three previous tries, this is hardly a game which will represent the strongest from either team.

Serbia’s 17-man roster has a grand total of four senior caps amongst the entire roster, with half of those coming from LA Galaxy forward Dejan Jovelijić. In fact, three of the players on the roster come from MLS teams, while the rest are based in the Serbian domestic SuperLiga, which resumes play on February 4.

Wednesday’s game is the first ever for the USMNT in the BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, close to five years after it opened for main tenants LAFC.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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