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USMNT battles Colombia to goal-less draw to close January camp


The U.S. men’s national team concluded its first international window of 2023 by grinding out a goal-less draw with visiting Colombia on Saturday night.

Anthony Hudson worked tirelessly against Colombia at Dignity Health Sports Park as Paxten Aaronson, John Tolkin, Sam Rogers, and Emmanuel Sabbi became the latest players to earn their international debuts. Colombia goalkeeper Alvaro Montero made two key first-half saves to preserve the clean sheet while American shot-stopper Sean Johnson was called into action once.

The USMNT came out on the front foot against Colombia, creating a great opportunity in the early moments. Matthew Hoppe’s pass to Paxten Aaronson in the sixth minute forced Montero into a diving save to his right.

Paul Arriola’s back heel pass allowed Aaronson to test his luck at the top of the Colombia box, but his shot was blocked from point-blank range. It was another positive look for the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder, who was aggressive for his full 90 minute performance.

The USMNT’s pressure continued later in the first half as Jesus Ferreira played Hoppe in on goal with a superb through ball. However, Hoppe could not get his shot across the box, as Montero punched the Middlesbrough man’s effort out for a corner kick.

Brandon Vazquez, Emmanuel Sabbi, and Alan Sonora were among the second-half substitutions for the USMNT, but the Americans were unable to find a breakthrough goal. Vazquez’s last-gasp volley in the box veered wide of Montero’s net, summing up a missed opportunity for the USMNT to capture a bounce-back victory.

Johnson was rarely troubled by the Colombian attack, led by fellow MLS talents, Cristian Arango and Cucho Hernandez. Dylan Borrero’s first-half shot was gathered by Johnson, while the USMNT defenders blocked several other attempts in the match.

The USMNT will be back in action this March for its final two group stage matches of Concacaf Nations League action.


  1. i get the idea from not setting the camp until a week out, and JR talking it down, that the GB portion of the establishment wants the january camp over. well i think they are really only comfortable in march with the full side because their system isn’t inherently beneficial and this only looks coherent with as much talent as possible to flatter the tactical mess. to me it’s not so much that january camp hasn’t any value — the women and YNT play now as well — it’s

    the next lame-ism will be we need a harder schedule. maybe start winning stuff — like these games we just played, or the world cup, or regional qualifying — before getting all snooty. along those lines, we can perfectly well use these games as we aren’t world champions and there were several qatar roster headscratchers. this is how one can problematize the goofy choices, right here. we found a potential 9 candidate, some decent wingbacks, maybe a wide forward sub.

    for that matter, GB ball on its game isn’t “pretty” or that “organized” so that critique of this bunch is kind of funny. it’s not like given 4 years the others look like clockwork orange.

  2. Still waiting for someone to let us know the last time the US looked good in a January friendly? Like it’s always “I like that kid but he needs more club minutes” and “why’d we see that guy he’s done”. And most of those were with 3 weeks training run up this was like 3 days of training.

    • i have long felt that it being inherently a partial access ga,e that talent eval should be the bigger concern. you’re like but it’s often a 0-0 tie except is the score a priority. it’s not first choice, they don’t necessarily have instant rapport. it’s tryout day for your select or school team. you’re looking for the ones who stand out within the mess.

      now, personally, come march i would still be trialing players. i would spend the non-tournament part of the first year trialing people. americans have this weird contradiction of being eliminated from a world cup then thinking they found their lineup when they got beat. ossifying right when you lose or going right back to that lineup is a good way to level off.

      i think personnel matter more than system so i think it’s more important the pool improves than we drill the same guys another week. many of whom stunk, got cut, or were role players in qatar.

      i don’t think giving a fresh face like even sabbi a night and finding out he sucks is bad. that’s at least looking fresh, which conversely netted us vazquez cowell tolkin and others. pretending all we did was fine reasons to beef isn’t true. to me the real waste is giving Z and long and a few others a couple more caps to not impress. that is perseveration. that is the actual waste. that is this glacial pace at which GB/hudson flush people who are handed the keys and disappoint. which shouldn’t be radically different than some trialist.

      the distinct impression i get on Z is some mix of he’s crested the hill — which we need to be attentive to — or he was flattered by having miles back there as his partner in crime, and no longer has that cover (until he’s healthy again). either case, doesn’t matter, we shouldn’t be giving players with repeated poor performances more NT time, especially at the beginning of a new cycle. this is the time in every cycle it looks fresh. go back and look at 2011 or 2019 if you’re confused.

  3. I was disappointed by Long and Zimmerman getting the start. Both are over 30 and will likely not figure in the next world cup. Why not take advantage of a meaningless game to bloody some young prospects. What’s the worst that could happen…..we lose the most meaningless of meaningless friendlies?

    • Other guys can’t show what they can do because the youngsters are getting toasted. Putting someone out there who is not ready just doesn’t effect them it effects the whole team that has to adjust to cover for them. That’s the harm. Putting guys in positions that will produce challenge (your “blood them”), but they have chance to be successful. Neal is years away from making the NT why throw him out there to the wolves next to a 23 yr old playing Denmark with Tolkin and Jones in their first caps. Against 2 of the best forwards in MLS. That’s setting players up to fail. For what to appease fans that are too cheap to pay for ESPN+ to watch these guys with their clubs.

      • Perhaps a bit overblown but yes. You have one if the worst coaches in the history of professional sports as an interim manager. This is US soccer.

      • JR: sorry but this is massively overexaggerated. neal wasn’t some incompetent youth rec or sunday league player who can’t complete a pass or defend anyone. he made a couple errors but at his level they are savagely punished. where on earth did you see that he was so bad he rendered it a farce for anyone around him.

        it’s an amusing argument because when i point out how, say, brooks has had nightmares even worse than that, people want to bring him back. no one says his defense against CR in 2016 was farcical.

        but let’s be real. who on here thought neal and some norwegian based dude no one had heard of should be the next two up? ironically rogers was kind of “ok.” but be honest, if you’d asked most people how to dole out these slots, it wouldn’t have been to older players, or the guy who blew wales, but also not to these randoms. we are also holding YNT camps. that’s where neal belonged. sorry but that was not on the order of, say, vazquez at 9, or hoppe cowell etc. wide. or gressel and tolkin at wingback. those were fairly consensus. the interim pulling a “2019 berhalter” on several choices doesn’t discredit the trial process or the choices that did make sense. just suffice to say several of his head scratchers have likely had their last cap for a while or perhaps for good.

      • IV: I kind of get Rodgers being there comes out of nowhere to become 1st choice guy for one of top teams in Norway (6g as a CB). I wonder if someone else backed out and they moved Neal over from U20 camp. He hasn’t even played a league match for LAG yet.

    • In a perfect world , if you were really high on , for example, Zendejas you’d have a game with the A team and then replace Pulisic or Weah with Zendejas.

      That would give you an idea of what the new guy could do if he replaced a starter.

      This is obviously pretty hard to arrange so what you just saw vs, Colombia is a very rough attempt to do something along those lines.

      This is an inherent flaw in the international game, the lack of adequate practice time.

      Guys like Gregg, who are inexperienced and inflexible, mostly rely on the A team going through a lot of repetitions of their schemes. As such, he will always be at a disadvantage in these circumstances. Especially because the USMNT player pool is still mostly potential and the manager still has little room to be wrong about a guy like Zendejas.

      We’re still not France , who can afford to lose guys like Pogba and Kante and still make the World Cup final and have a shot at winning it.

      That is why the potential hookup of Weston, Tyler and Brenden for example, should it actually happen, will be a significant shot in the arm for the USMNT.

      We’ve never had three starters have a chance to be starters together. long term, on a club at that level.

      • agree with this Mr. V except the part about GB; he was the coach who rolled out a different look vs. Wales, then vs. England, than what we had played under him for the years prior, with some surprising player choices of guys who were not involved, and then were. That is not inflexible, it’s the opposite actually

      • while i think leeds would be a nice hookup for the trio i actually tend to believe leeds’ system is junk — like ours — and that more play with the same people — gel — is marginal value. if you lose round of 16 the answer is not run out the same 11 again next time.

        sorry but the klinsi fetish for barely squeezing in one new trialist a game is a status quo defense exercise which is misguided if you aren’t yet successful. we aren’t first or even second in the region. we weren’t first in our world cup group. we scored like 3 goals. we won 1 game. at a loss how this is a finished product except for some coaching sandpaper.

        i want to see fresh faces and then about a third of the NT disappear. that in my experience is how you improve. you identify the scrubs. you bring in prospects. you swap the good ones out. you find out exactly how good the good ones are relative to the roster. only then should we be worrying about system and gel.

        personally i think the US since roughly klinsi runs the system cart out before the horse. the system comes before the pool is picked. i would want to know what my pool is before i pick my tactics. or is this not how you end up at the world cup not knowing who the 9 is when the whole offense feeds to that position.

      • Frankie DeJong has played 50 of the Netherlands last 53 matches. Van Dijk 42 of 49 when you take out the ones he missed with knee injury. Blind 99 of the last 118 most of those due to injury. Playing your A team as much as possible is the norm. Few others would dream of choosing an almost entire C roster and take it to the regional championship or play an almost entire 2nd team on the road in qualifying. Plenty of things to criticize Berhalter for but not trying out enough players is absurd.

  4. Might be time to scrap January Camp. Didn’t really learn much from these two friendlies that we already didn’t know about most of these players. Cowell, Aaronson, Neal, Tolkin, Slonina, and Gomez have big potential as young players…. we all already knew that. Williamson, Sonora, Pomykal, and Zendejas are all highly technically skilled players…. We all already knew that. Vasquez and Hoppe are highly athletic but lack refinement…. We all already knew that. Long, Z-Man, Acosta, Ferreira, Sean John, and Arriola are all already known USMNT commodities. The one player that I did learn more about was Jones. He has a lot of qualities about his defensive game I like and he can play both RB and LB. With MLS preseason starting earlier having a Jan camp to keep MLS players fit doesn’t make much sense anymore. Essentially it’s USMNT B/C team Versus whoever they get as opponents B/C team. I hope some of these players get on the Gold Cup team in a knockout tournament that will tell me more. And some of these guys will be on the Olympic team or Copa America team in 2024. That will tell me more about them as players. Playing in higher profile friendly games will tell me more about them as players.

    • Disagree.

      The more games these guys play,the better, assuming they can take the wear and tear.
      If they care about the international game, the more of these international camps (that disrupt their cozy club environment), they attend and learn how to handle, the better.

      Otherwise it will be a big shock later on.

      If you are against spoiled, pampered entitled players then the more of those camps there are , the better.

      • you have to run the rosters and games more like game 1 then. yesterday’s game was pointless. the serbia loss at least trialed a long list of new or underused guys, and produced some options. a sister-kissing tie and mostly veterans is pointless. and before people pretend like we don’t need new players or tactics, we didn’t win the world cup. the world isn’t perfect yet.

    • the original purpose on january camp was MLS didn’t start til baseball time — april — and so you needed a camp and games in january or february so they could be in shape and sharp for games in march. otherwise the MLS guys would have been in preseason shape. same concept as when they had october camp a few years back when they had the all-or-nothing november game with canada. MLS now starts late february with camps in january. you don’t need january camp to get players ready for march involvement.

      i think it’s a useful camp for trialing MLS/MX/scandi players. but you have to be willing to make them de facto tryout games and not worry about results. i agree with the sentiment that running out veteran scrubs and preferring them to rookies is a waste of time. we learned very little yesterday, little result, that’s just playing a game and cashing a broadcast check.

      though to be real half my concern on hudson is it will be more of the same for a half year with him in charge. modest capping, too much status quo, same tactics. to me you want to be either maximizing results or learning something. this is pointless. get a better caretaker in. fwiw with someone else who just played kids january camp would have been more worth it. i think some of your critique is really personalized.

      • Hudson’s issue isn’t allegiance to Berhalter, it’s mandate. He knows there is no chance he gets this job full time so he is taking care of the group. Making sure everyone stays fit, keeping the clubs happy with the fed. He’s not supposed jump in change the formation change all the tactics, and cap everyone with a passport. He’s the caretaker, just like if you hired a caretaker for your house you don’t want them to knock down the interior walls, add a second floor laundry and fill in the pool in the backyard. They bring in the mail, make sure there’s no water leaks, and turn some light on to keep the burglars away. Parlow Cone stated she hopes to have a new manager by the end of summer, so be prepared for 4-3-3 with a roster similar to Qatar.

      • JR: this is a nonsense argument or did you not watch bradley’s year or sarachan’s year. they made the team their own. ironically GB eventually circled back to many sarachan capped who he first forgot. including jedi fwiw.

        the difference is sarachan took for granted a list of players were either done or old and moved on with his life, and he had no illusions that by running out status quo players he could revive arena. he also by virtue of the 2017 failure understood that playing the same folks would ensure he had no job after 2018.

        to me hudson has different incentives. he might have thought we could win last night and in doing so reflect well upon his abilities or his old boss GB if he remains in play. that’s his real incentive is to leave the china intact in the same places and hope the staff is left intact as national caterers. if he radically changed tactics or personnel it reflects on GB. it might help him but as a GB-for-brains he will think they were doing it right before hence why change anything. except we now see GB System being halfway effective is really a reflection of the first choice talent. or did we not learn this c. 2019.

      • IV: difference is Bradley knew he had a realistic shot at the job. Sarachan as has been widely reported basically just rolled the ball out and said go to it. Little tactics, little direction he knew his job was to just bide time. He also had direction from the fed to intro the new players. Fans were literally booing guys when they’d show up for their club matches. The fee needed to at least show they were listening even if it was just for show. Hudson isn’t going to waste a bunch of time installing some new system for 2-10 matches that will just be changed by the new guy. Plus as you’ve pointed out his tactics and system kind of stunk in Colorado.

      • JR: you contradict yourself. you note sarachan didn’t really do a system. i agree. then you act like it’s foolish to try and install some other system now. you just implied we didn’t have to. just put prospects out there and let them play. exactly. doesn’t interfere with the future because nothing is installed. might hint at whether the new thing should be something different if the players take to a new array better.

        additionally, yes, sarachan just lined up some prospects in a formation. ironically coming from you, people grew more critical with time BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO SEE IT MORE ORGANIZED. so you’re like, “shouldn’t” except at a certain length of time maybe it shouldn’t still be haphazard.

        ironically after the fact there was value to what he did, because he had enough a talent eye to identify a set who were involved later on. amusingly not at first. but the dumb successor eventually got a clue.

        the funniest part of defending hudson is he can barely defend himself. explanation i saw for “why continuity” was “carry through these games in the right way.” that’s like etiquette or a tautology for we should have starters these games which begs the question. i do not care if we win the first friendly of the new cycle or how we look. the idea is when the last game of the next world cup.

  5. on a broad level i thought the second game was 80-90% waste. they privileged 8/11 of the lineup on existing capped players, of which 6 were 27 or older and 2 of which are already O-30. acosta was the only one of the 8 who made qatar and looked solid. ferreira is young but didn’t look good in the world cup. Z embarrassed himself. hoppe is the only one who had been cut and not really given a chance. having doubled down on continuity, the personnel and system delivered a 0-0 tie. so you’re squeezing out noobs who can’t play if we perseverate about ferreira, arriola, Z, long, etc., forcing a system that makes us look slow and clunky, and not get results for the compromises. i didn’t see the point in the first 60′ of this game or in any further use of hudson as caretaker, as he clearly is committed to the past in terms of personnel and tactics. we also ruled “in” or “out” very few guys yesterday.

    related point, this half speed half court stuff has to end. mbappe shows that the old use of american wide and front speed is not passe or anti-soccer. it dawned on me yesterday how slow save perhaps sabbi or cowell we were as a team, or in terms of individuals taking defenders on. we are abandoning the speed element other leading teams are using. the system is clunky. we are not a superior skill team or a leading crossing team where turning into a half court enterprise makes any sense. i appreciate the improved skill but felt like i was watching 2011 gold cup under bradley or 2019 under GB, a team neutered of athletes but not that skilled either.

    they need to sit back down and decide what it is we are trying to accomplish and how the goals will come. we continue to labor to score goals, to not have a clear concept of who will be fed and where, and to not dominate opponents in some facet, height, aerial, speed, skill, defense, keeping. the idea to soccer is to be better at. a few facets than your opponents creating mismatches. and to create chances and score goals. and to stop the other guy through organized defense, individual island play, and keeping. literally the only phase i saw us dominate was keeping, and that was not enough for serbia or to get colombia off a tie. i am sick of people promoting dumb ideas like pressing or players whose sole virtue seems to be hustle. they all should hustle.

    i actually minded serbia less than this because at least we tried some new faces . this was a waste. this was a coach trying cynically to squeak a result and justify the old coach and his choices.

    • general venting aside, i thought about all we got out of last night was tolkin, a solid stay at home wingback. jones, aaronson, and rogers might be worth looking at again, but didn’t do much. celentano didn’t play to be evaluated which was a waste — seanjohn already has his TFC gig and at his age didn’t need a showcase. vazquez didn’t play as well as serbia, hoppe and sabbi looked poor, sonora was anonymous. the result didn’t shine sun on the fans. the approach didn’t bring many new players to light. if anything it was more successful at weeding a few out. but i don’t see how making some O-30 types look better at the expense of kids is long term helpful. most of these were the guys who couldn’t see the field in qatar. they need anything but protection.

      • Playing guys in situations that you know they are not ready for is at least as much of a waste as playing guys you know what they can do. Putting say Diego Luna and Quinn Sullivan out there to struggle is pointless. “But what if they shine?” Maybe they would play better, but that’s a pretty slim maybe. Instead there’s pretty strong chance their going to look terrible and effect their own confidence and the teams ability to play well.
        After Pulisic we got into this idea if you aren’t ready to start by 19, you’re a waste of a roster spot because you’re as developed as you’ll get.

      • JR: you’re assuming your conclusion. i am sure many of your ilk would have said the same thing about cowell and tolkin. put them out there and see what happens. be scientific. one of my concerns with the GB era is decisions are made on paper instead of proved on the field. you think someone isn’t ready? let’s run them out there and see.

        what you’re not getting is these time games are primarily for figuring out 5-10 guys we could play instead of roldan or arriola or Z again as the bench. if you assume Z is better or the kids aren’t ready have fun watching scrubby vets out there some more. we already know how far that gets us.

        what befuddles me is what is the downside. it’s a tryout. does it hurt you to see serbia beat us and figure out cowell can play? i’d rather find out some new players to push out the scrubs, or maybe strike gold. much better than listening to you whine “who else” which is the usual rhetorical gambit when you haven’t bothered to learn about the pool fully. we aren’t winning or losing anything right now, really. historically we didn’t even freak out if we lost gold cup sometimes, the idea was to figure out people could ball or would turn into robles. rather know that now instead of later.

      • Classic IV:
        Listening to you whine “who else” which is the usual rhetorical gambit when you haven’t bothered to learn about the pool fully.
        I know the pool, you don’t. Which is why you constantly say we need to play the young players but never name names because you don’t know them. You can’t name guys or the guys you think of you’ve already trashed when they were on youth teams so you can’t say them. I agree we didn’t need both Long and Zim on the roster (kudos Mr. propaganda tactics for now shortening Walker Zimmerman to Z to try to connect him in peoples mind to Putin’s failed invasion very sly) but once they’re there with Rodgers and Neal they have to play a good amount of minutes. Do I think Kessler and Glad could have done a job, yes I do. Do I think they have any future on NT, no. I don’t need to see them because we’ve seen thousands of minutes of them in MLS. If your average in MLS you aren’t going to be a star for NT.
        Let’s take Sabbi. Hudson has seen hours of footage of him being an average player on a poor team in Denmark. He comes to camp and doesn’t impress. He doesn’t need to send him out for 70 minutes against better competition than he faces for his club to prove that. Give him 20-30 to reward him for his work and time. Hold Neal and Rodgers until after Arrango and Cucho are out and give them a chance to have success. None of this really matters anyway because a new staff is likely in place by August and are they going to look at hundreds or thousands of club minutes or 180 minutes against C teams when all sides are basically in preseason?

      • JR: don’t make me the “who else” guy. i am the has a list guy. you’re the one who doesn’t want so many new faces right now, and then wants to say later on, “who else is there?” a half inch below this statement is a belief you already know the lineup, tautologically, before they play games, based on (a) who played before (circular logic) and (b) specific prospects who haven’t had to prove themselves any more than the ones who played now. we have had plenty of “can’t miss” who do miss. so play the games and at least start the cycle trying new things. be scientific as opposed to making assumptions.

        my guess is as soon as the investigation is over and a new GM hired, the HC gets the boot. i do not understand drilling noobs in an edifice about to be torn down. particularly when the coach is being canned i think assuming his system and eval were correct on a given player is wrongheaded, like by definition. if he had the players sorted just so and the system humming he wouldn’t be one foot on a banana peel. based on the drumbeat of zidane bielsa mourinho rumors this is a forgone conclusion. so loosen up the reins on tactics and personnel.

      • And yet again you can’t name a name. The one who claims to have all the answer can’t name one single player that should have been brought in.

  6. if we get Zendejas, worth the whole camp. he could play with the NT right now imo, and if GB is coach, he fits well into his pressing ideas

    • let’s bring back wondo, he ran around like mad while missing the net all day. pressing is way way overrated and we shouldn’t be picking forwards for hustle. that’s why we had a horrific goals average for qualifying, <1 goal per game in world cup, and 1 goal — .5 goals/game — in these friendlies.

      people talk about zendejas like he is a kid. he's 24, was a U17 with adams and pulisic. in 2030 he'll be ~32. it needs to happen now, whatever he has.

      • I don’t know about ‘people talk about’ or what ever…I am saying he could step in right now and impact things. People talk about age all the time…24, 25, 26, 27 thru the cyle? prime man. you’re taking about 2030. that is klismanesque 😉

      • beach: the deal is this. he is not a kid. he is a mid career player at peak age, he plays a production position, not defensive midfield. put up or shut up. i am bored with the penchant for “arriola” wings whose sole recommendation is hustling on defense.

        if you are in your mid 20s then 2026 is your last big chance. you can make fun of me talking 2030 all you want but the point is at his age he will be about 28 in 2026 and he either offers something NOW or not. there is no TOMORROW. he’s not some 18 year old kid on bayern reserves. people used to say the same dumb stuff about trapp like he was a kid. he was 26 when the cycle started. he was going to be 30. this was his chance. now, this is zendejas’ career window.

        the alternative is what happened with jones and beckerman last cycle where JK seemed to forget how old they were and they both broke down before WCQ even got going. you can make fun of this kind of thinking but a smart team is planning ahead. planning here is zendejas is not some 19 year old center back, “promise” is not enough, he is 24 and it needs to happen now. if all he does is run hard, waste of time. we need goals. cowell and vazquez and gressel might be actual goals.

      • your reply did not address anything…a player in his prime now matters NONE in 2030, 2hich is 7 years away! VERY KLINSMANESQUE to sell futures at the expense of the present.

        he offers something NOW and I repeat, he could play with the nats right now and contribute.

        Jones and Beckerman were in their 30s! Zendejas will be IN HIS PRIME this entire cycle.

        Your argument literally makes no sense.

      • beach: it’s not hard to follow. you seem to obsess on the 2030 part. the real point was the 2026 part. he is old enough to be more like his ole teammate pulisic than some 19 year old. he needs to be judged by that standard. pulisic is not judged by the “wow the kid tries hard” standard. nor is arriola who takes a similar approach to the same wing slot. it’s a production position — or at least should be. he needs to be producing like vazquez or pulisic as though this is in fact a 2026 guy. if you hand me “works hard” instead of production, and tell me, well, maybe later, that’s like saying arriola might become a scorer tomorrow. that’s trying to treat a mid career guy like a prospect. that’s my whole point. he may be “new” but at his age he’s “older.” he should be judged by that standard.

        i mean during the world cup all i heard was people whining morris got to play instead of reyna. now we’re talking up another motor wing. great. based on what i saw we need skill and speed not hustle.

    • I really liked what Zendejas brought to this camp, but do remember he is in mid-season form. The rest of the roster was off-season or early pre-season form, and it showed. That was one reason, outside the fact he was available for one game, why he went the full 90 while many others were on minute restrictions.

      The fact that he agreed to a callup to me implies there is interest and the door may be open. One cannot blame him for the tactics he is using before committing to the USA or Mexico.

  7. That looked a lot like two teams in preseason. Announcers apparently just had the post match comments prerecorded, I believe Martino said “More answers than questions after these two friendlies.” Huh!
    Aaronson: looked ready to contribute for a club, but hope he just stays in Frankfurt with their reserves so he’s released for U20s.
    Hoppe: how bad is English Youth League, Matt has been scoring at will for U21 5g 5 matches, but looked out of form tonight. Seemed to believe his only way to impress was to score goals, but he does still have some “dawg” in him.
    Sonora: I give him some leeway because he’s out of contract and not been training with a club. However I really thought he’d show better. On a day Booth and Mihailovic were flashy in Eredivisie Joel again was average.
    Sabbi: sorry Lois he just kept dribbling into defenders.
    Tolkin: I could see him moving to Belgium or Netherlands in the future. He’s a decent defender but can also get forward. Definitely should be with U23 at Olympics.
    Neal: not anywhere near ready for NT but should be starting CB for U20s
    Williamson: I hope he gets some more time this summer in GC.
    None of these new guys looked ready to play with full NT. Zendajas probably the closest but if wings are healthy he doesn’t bump anyone. Slonina should be getting 3rd GK spots but why not keep him with youth if he’s 3rd. I think we’ll see quite a few of these guys at GC this summer.

    • I personally loved Zendejas. Like, LOVED. I like Weah a lot too but the problem I have with him is that he’s also part of the reason we don’t work the middle well. He’s a pure speed guy and he’s right footed, and that tends to take him mostly into the inside right and right-hand channels…he scored his one goal in the WC (and another that got called off) when he broke tendency and got into the center channel, but he doesn’t work that channel naturally, and he and Dest ended up in the same spaces a lot. As an inverted winger Zendejas tends to work from the right all the way to even the inside left channels, and his ability to play in a shoebox and escape even the tightest pressure means he’s extremely helpful in unlocking the middle in the final third…we’d need a fullback to provide width on the field but aside from Gressel that’s what most of our RB’s do well anyhow. And Zendejas’s pressing, work rate, and fitness levels are insane. If that’s his true standard and not a mirage, he’d be in any 23 I ever called up.

      Against teams that play a higher block I’d probably stick with Weah…and I’d think hard about starting Gressel or Scally with Weah because we don’t need our RB’s providing that extra width and getting forward as much and getting into the same space Weah uses. But I’d start Zendejas over Weah every time against teams that drop into a low block, and I’d have to really think about it even with teams that favor a mid-block, especially because his natural partner is Dest. Also, Pulisic can’t play every second and he is hurt a lot…and IMHO, if Pulisic isn’t available my inclination would be to start Weah in Pulisic’s spot anyhow…which again, would leave Zendejas starting on the right. IMHO Zendejas is a must-get and adds immense value to our group; he’s a piece we simply don’t have in our pool right now…I’d be recruiting him, recruiting him, and recruiting him some more.

      Speaking of Gressel, I like him a lot too. He does EVERYTHING well except get up the right channel with pace. Again, if I’m starting Weah, I’d probably also start Gressel. I do think Gressel’s ahead of Scally at the moment…that may not be true in a couple years, but it is as of today, IMHO. I liked Vasquez a ton too. We all knew he could score, what we weren’t sure about is how he’d fare as a lone striker who was asked to press and he did that a lot better than I expected.

      And Cade Cowell. Wow. There’s a ton of improvements he needs to make – he needs to take a hard look at Zendejas to see what a truly dedicated professional plays like, especially in regards to pressing and defending – but that raw ability…it turned my head around. I absolutely saw Pulisic’s future backup and possible successor if he can get to Europe and refine his game. He needed to be in the Dutch league yesterday. Also, Gaga Slonina showed that same sort of upside, like, “this kid is potentially better than anyone we have or have had for awhile.”

      The match results weren’t great, but IMHO we did find some fellas that can help us. A lot, actually.

      • You didn’t seem to mention Gio Reyna?
        Cowell to me based on what I’ve seen him do at SJ and with U20s (and I’ve watched way more of SJ than I should have) is he’s a throwback. The kind of forward the US turned out 25 years ago. Speed, power, and no idea and little care where the ball is going whether on the dribble or on his shots. Pepi and Ferreira blossomed under Luchi so I’m not saying he’ll never be anything but to even say “Pulisic’s future backup” is silly to me. I hope I’m wrong.
        I’ve been on the Vazquez train since he played with Haji, Tyler, CP, Luca, and Zendajas. I didn’t think other than the goal he was great especially vs Colombia but a 2nd match on preseason legs probably isn’t a fair assessment. A good 4 or 5 matches at the GC should allow him to show more.
        Mihailovic, Booth, Ledezma are direct competition for Zendajas for that role you describe. Haven’t seen enough of Ale, Booth, or recent Richie to accurately assess that battle.
        Of course the next manager rolls out a 3-5-2 and the whole discussion changes. I agree the results weren’t great but that wasn’t really the point of the exercise.

      • i am fine with gressel or tolkin doing what they did. gressel for all your grousing was the only assist of the weekend. at some point US fans need to learn the difference between the routine effort and risk of runs forward vs picking spots and delivering great balls. i also for a few years now have been bugged by concepts premised on constant wingbacks forward, which is risky, but also which draws defenders to the wing forwards’ space and complicates their task. i would like our high quality wings to have a bunch of time and room to operate without being asked to give it up to lesser wingbacks, or having them drag men over they have to slalom along with their own markers.

        the one positive of the night to me was they were less often just whacking crosses and sometimes cutting in top of the 18 or playing ground crosses to the top of the box. that has been missing for years. bluntly i don’t get having a false 9 then not playing those type passes. if you’re just going to whack the ball in we need some big lunks to head the ball. compared to us holland at least seemed to grasp if you’re going old school field the cogs to do it. if you’re gonna play ferreira or sargent ball needs to go to feet.

      • JR-

        The big things that make Zendejas so valuable, IMHO, is that he’s left-footed – all the other three you mentioned are right-footed – and so they’re not going to operate in the same spaces Zendejas does, and while I haven’t seen Ledezma much neither Booth nor Djorde are nearly as good at operating in a shoebox as Zendejas was. Zendejas just unlocked the middle of the field so much…and incidentally, also opened up the space for the right back to get up into. The others would have the same problem Weah does – as right-footed right wingers, they’ll tend to drift towards the right and get into the spaces that Dest/Yedlin/etc. take as they go forwards.

        I’m with you that Cowell is a wild colt. That’s obvious, and why I think it’s so imperative he gets to Europe where he has to really clean it up to be effective. But the upside seems like it’s there if he can get under control…I was kind of surprised how good his first touch was; I honestly remembered him being more of a Zardes-type banger with wooden paddles for feet. Of course, Cowell would still have to beat out Paxton (or Brendon) Aaronson and Taylor Booth and any number of others to get into a 23 as a winger anyway – we’re assuming Pulisic/Weah are healthy, which speaks for at least two spots and if he’s truly as good as he looked Zendejas seems likely to grab a third – but those are good problems to have, too. And Pulisic and Weah are often not healthy anyway.

        As for Reyna…I’ve always been more meh on him than a lot of people are. I like his skill on the ball. That’s very obvious. I did not like that he’s always hurt, and I liked his his sullen, perpetually pissy attitude and work rate even less. And was even before that drama at the World Cup, where he decided to pout that he wasn’t starting even though he was coming off at another long injury layoff and wasn’t close to 100% per several folks I’ve talked to. It’s like, dude: you are not that good. Gio won’t press and he won’t defend; he’s a pure 10 (or second striker) or nothing for me and if you’re not setting up to use a 10/second striker there’s nowhere for him on the field, at least not for the first 60 minutes. There’s a spot for him in a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-4-2, but in the pressing 4-3-3 we use? He’s not a fit, not as a starter, anyway. If we’re allowed 26, sure, he’s on the squad…as a role player. But if it’s a 23-man roster I don’t know if I’d personally bring him if everyone’s healthy.

      • IV-

        I wasn’t grousing at all about Gressel…witness the part where I said “I like him a lot and I’d probably start him with Weah” precisely because Gressel is more solid and aware defensively than Dest is and he delivers better service into the box too – that one he put on Vasquez’s head was beautiful and I’ve seen him do that a ton in MLS too – and also because he wouldn’t run up Weah’s butt and jostle around in the same space with him. And the thing I’ve always liked about Gressel is just how clean his passing and decision-making is…the dude just does not make many mistakes, and most of what he does is just such high quality. Sure, he’s more a traditional fullback than a wingback, but as you mentioned…is that necessarily a BAD thing, especially when you’ve got a supersonic winger like Weah on the same side anyway? I don’t know if he’ll still be the same player in 2026 but Gressel can definitely help us right now.

      • Q: I think IV was referring to me “grousing”. Several were asking why Gressell was on the roster last week and I said because he’s the best crosser of any RB in our pool. So after his assist I pointed out that was why he was on the roster.

      • i was responding to “EVERYTHING well except get up the right channel with pace.” gressel had the assist on the only goal all week, which was not him running headlong downfield leaving the counter open. personally i thought the world cup said maybe worry about defensive ability more. and i think we have enough wide talent we don’t need the wingbacks constantly making risky jailbreak runs and seeming to be the featured wide attackers. i think we have a ton of wide attacking talent and let it do its job. what we need is someone who can actually put a cross on a head or foot on purpose. for all the yakking that is not jedi, who is quantity over quality.

        i have expressed concerns about gressel’s age, i don’t see him as a likely starter. i think he’d be a useful guy off the bench. i think the US needs more guys with specific uses on the bench and a guy who can come in and hit crosses — and maybe deadballs — is one such use. my beef there is more i don’t want to trust an O-30 to mark in a world cup — eddie lewis — just because he can hit a good ball in.

      • IV: he’s probably fine in SJ now that Luchi has replaced Almeda. I agree with you (I think) he’s not ready for Europe yet. Show you can do better than 3g 3a in MLS or you’ll just sit in Europe.

  8. The wingbacks of Jones and Tolkin did well, and made an impression.
    Aaronson did well, especially given the number of fouls he absorbed.
    Hoppe isn’t getting minutes at Middlesborough, and we got to see why. He needs a reset, probably out of England.
    Sabbi won’t get another callup. Other options are better.
    Hoping Sonora lands in MLS.

  9. That should be the last we see of Matthew Hoppe for a long time. Absolutely atrocious decision-making when teammates were in a better position to score.


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