The U.S. men’s national team fell to Slovenia 1-0 on Saturday in San Antonio, a disappointing result at the beginning of an enormous year for the program.
Nevertheless, 11 Americans from the entirely MLS-based squad made their national team debuts in the latest January camp friendly. With January rosters increasingly far from varsity, or even junior varsity versions, the focus for viewers and for the USMNT’s coaching staff is placed on individual performances now more than ever.
What did we learn from the U.S.’s first game of 2024? And what other questions were raised throughout the exercise?
Let’s dig in.
Who stood out
The friendly was a fairly nondescript affair which spiced up in the second half after the first set of American subs. Among the starters, Aidan Morris had his best performance wearing the crest to date. Deployed as a defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3, Morris alertly put out fires defensively and looked decisive rather than ponderous in possession, which hasn’t often been the case in the past. Morris seemed in command and comfortable in his role.
He was intent on getting the U.S. into a rhythm with the ball, yet they were quite stale for most of the game.
It was far from a perfect evening for Bernard Kamungo – he could’ve converted one of the U.S.’s few chances and he lost the ball allowing Slovenia to capitalize in transition for the game’s only goal. Still, Kamungo’s smooth, probing dribbling as an inverted right winger was encouraging. The 22-year-old, whose incredibly inspiring journey to FC Dallas and the USMNT has been well-documented, displayed directness on the wing that the ‘A’ team lacks after the first-choice wingers.
In addition to Morris, Berhalter praised Real Salt Lake attacker Diego Luna postgame – who drifted centrally from the left side to connect with teammates and create – as well as substitute Esmir Bajraktarevic.