CHICAGO (Jan. 26, 2023) – After a narrow loss to Serbia in its first match of 2023, the U.S. Men’s National Team will wrap its first training camp of the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle with a game against South American power Colombia on Saturday, Jan. 28. Eight players earned their first caps against Serbia, while five more will seek their first senior international appearances against a Colombia side eager to kick off the new cycle after narrowly missing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Saturday’s kickoff of USA-Colombia from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT, Telemundo, Peacock and the Telemundo App.
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS) - JANUARY CAMP
GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC/CAN; 10/0), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; 1/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad/ESP; 2/0), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN; 1/0), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution; 1/0), Aaron Long (LAFC; 30/3), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy; 1/0), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg/NOR; 0/0), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 38/3)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 0/0), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 56/2), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew; 1/0), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; 2/0), Alan Soñora (Unattached; 1/0), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; 5/0)
FORWARDS (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 49/10), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 16/7), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough/ENG; 7/1), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense/DEN; 0/0), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati; 1/1), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America/MEX; 1/0)
With the match dates falling outside of the designated international calendar, clubs are not required to release players for national team duty. The January camp typically consists largely of U.S.-based players who are not in season.
USA SCHEDULE - JANUARY CAMP
TOUGH LOSS TO OPEN 2023
In the USA’s opening match of the new year, a remarkably green line-up fought hard but ultimately couldn’t overcome Serbia in the USMNT’s first match at LAFC’s BMO Stadium. Debutant forward Brendan Vazquez opened the scoring in the 29th minute, flicking a header off a perfectly served cross from right back Julian Gressel. Young goalkeeper Gaga Slonina made a number of standout saves in the first half, but Serbia was able to equalize on a free kick from Luka Ilić just before the half. A lapse in concentration found Serbia the eventual game-winner moments into the second half, and while the young Americans responded well, led by a strong effort from forward Cade Cowell, they were unable to find another goal.
FIRST CAPS APLENTY
Eight players made their USMNT debuts on Wednesday night against Serbia: goalkeeper Gaga Slonina, defenders Julian Gressel, DeJuan Jones and Jalen Neal, midfielders Aidan Morris and Alan Soñora plus forwards Brandon Vázquez and Alex Zendejas. The eight first caps were the most for the U.S. in a single match since a 2-0 win against Canada on Sept. 3, 1992. All but Jones started the match, and the seven debutants in the starting XI were the USA’s most since a 1-0 loss to Guatemala on Jan. 10, 1988.
SLONINA MAKES HISTORY
With his start against Serbia, Gaga Slonina became the youngest goalkeeper to play for the USMNT at 18 years, 255 days. Slonina, who joined Chelsea in the English Premier League this winter from the Chicago Fire, put in a solid shift against Serbia, highlighted by a number of standout saves in the first half. In the 31st minute, he made a highlight reel stop of a point-blank shot and then slapped away the spinning ball that was bound for goal.
THE ROAD TO A WORLD CUP ROSTER IS PAVED THROUGH JANUARY CAMPDating back to 1999, 30 players who have debuted or earned their second cap during the USMNT’s first camp of a calendar year have gone on to make a FIFA World Cup roster From the USA’s squad at Qatar 2022, nine players earned their first or second cap during a January camp match, including captain Tyler Adams, forward Brenden Aaronson, defenders Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream and starting goalkeeper Matt Turner. That figure also includes five members of the 100-cap club: Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
The USMNT’s January training camp roster is traditionally filled with rising talents getting their first looks with the senior team and this year’s squad is no different. While eight of the 13 players who entered camp without a USMNT appearance earned their first caps against Serbia, five more will be looking to make their international debuts on Saturday night: goalkeeper Romeo Celentano, defenders Sam Rogers and John Tolkin, midfielder Paxten Aaronson and forward Emmanuel Sabbi.
The young players come with plenty of experience in the U.S. Men’s Youth National Teams program. Last summer, Aaronson, Cade Cowell and Jalen Neal helped lead the USA to a third-straight Concacaf U-20 Championship, a berth to the Olympics for the first time since Beijing 2008 and a spot in this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. First-time call-ups Vazquez and Zendejas represented the USA at the 2015 U-17 World Cup, while Sabbi was a part of the U.S. team at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
WORLD CUP VETERANS RETURN
In addition to the young talent getting an opportunity this month, five players return from the USMNT’s successful run at the World Cup -- goalkeeper Sean Johnson, defenders Zimmerman and Aaron Long, midfielder Kellyn Acosta and forward Jesús Ferreira. Zimmerman played a key role on the U.S. back line, appearing in every match and making a critical goal line clearance late in the USMNT’s knockout round-clinching victory against Iran. Acosta made two substitute appearances in Qatar and Ferreira started in the Round of 16 match against Netherlands.
Anthony Hudson is currently serving as USMNT head coach, while fellow World Cup assistant B.J. Callaghan and Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team head coach Mikey Varas will serve as assistant coaches amid U.S. Soccer’s full review of the USMNT program following the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In the past, the customary review of the past four years of the entire program following a World Cup would begin in the summer, well ahead of any year-end contract expiration. The unique November-December timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar significantly reduced the amount of time that the Federation would have to conduct a proper assessment prior to the end of the head coach’s contract.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- Seven of the USA starters vs. Serbia were dual nationals: Cowell, Gómez, Vazquez and Zendejas (USA & Mexico); Gressel (USA & Germany), Soñora (USA & Argentina), Slonina (USA & Poland).
- At 29 years, 40 days, Gressel became the oldest player to earn his first USMNT cap since Chris Pontius did so at 29 years, 262 days against Serbia in January 2017.
- Cade Cowell, Jonathan Gómez and Paxton Pomykal all earned their first career starts in their second overall caps against Serbia.
- Following his substitute appearance against Serbia, forward Paul Arriola could be poised to earn his 50th cap for the USMNT on Saturday against Colombia. He would become the 60th player to hit the half century mark for the USMNT.
- Midfielder Eryk Williamson replaced Alan Soñora in the 57th minute to earn his first cap since returning from a torn ACL suffered just weeks after his last USMNT appearance in the Concacaf Gold Cup Final vs. Mexico on Aug. 1, 2021.
- Four of the five World Cup veterans in camp made their USMNT debuts in matches associated with January camp: Sean Johnson (Jan. 22, 2011 vs. Chile), Kellyn Acosta (Jan. 31, 2016 vs. Iceland), Walker Zimmerman (Feb. 3, 2017 vs. Jamaica) and Jesús Ferreira (Feb. 1, 2020 vs. Costa Rica).
- Eight players are age-eligible for the 2024 Summer Olympics: Matthew Hoppe and Aidan Morris (21); John Tolkin (20); Paxten Aaronson, Cade Cowell, Jonathan Gómez, and Jalen Neal (19); Gaga Slonina (18).
- Five players are from Southern California: Paul Arriola (Chula Vista), Matthew Hoppe (Yorba Linda), Aaron Long (Oak Hills), Jalen Neal (Lakewood) and Brandon Vazquez (San Diego).
- Should Paxten appear in either match, the Aaronsons would become the eighth set of brothers to represent the USMNT: John and Pedro DeBrito; Otto and Rolf Decker; Angelo and Paul DiBernardo; Charlie and Henry McCully; George and Louie Nanchoff; Steve and Ken Snow; Archie and Tom Stark.
- Born in Santa Marta, Colombia, forward Jesús Ferreira will have the chance to play against the country of his birth when the USA faces Los Cafeteros on Jan. 28 in Carson, Calif.
BACK TO LA
After the condensed World Cup qualifying schedule featured three Octagonal matches for the USMNT during January/February 2022, the USA returns to the passionate soccer community in the Los Angeles area to launch its four-year run up to hosting the world’s biggest sporting event - the 2026 FIFA World Cup - alongside Canada and Mexico.
The USMNT has played in California 115 times, more than any other state, with 44 of those matches taking place in Carson and Los Angeles. USA-Serbia marks the USMNT’s first game at LAFC’s BMO Stadium, while the U.S. is 12-2-3 at Dignity Health Sports Park all-time and 11-8-9 in matches played in Los Angeles proper. SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. is one of 11 U.S. host venues for the 2026 World Cup.
- Saturday marks the 21st meeting all-time between the USMNT and Colombia with the USA posting a 3-13-4 record.
- All three of the U.S. victories against Colombia have come in Southern California, most recently a 3-0 win in Fullerton on March 9, 2005.
- The nations last clashed in an international friendly on Oct. 11, 2018 in Tampa, Fla. Midfielder Kellyn Acosta netted his second international goal to draw the USA even at 1-1 early in the second half. Forward Tim Weah also recorded his first international assist.
- The USA and Colombia also faced off twice in the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a 2-0 group stage defeat in Santa Clara, Calif. and a 1-0 loss in the third-place match in Glendale, Ariz.
- CONMEBOL and Concacaf recently announced that the 2024 Copa America will again be held in the United States.
- One of the USMNT’s most memorable World Cup victories came against Colombia in Southern California during the 1994 World Cup, a 2-1 win at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena featuring a goal from U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart.
COLOMBIA ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (2): José Chunga (Alianza Petrolera; 2/0), Álvaro Montero (Millonarios; 3/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors/ARG; 26/1), Junior Hernández (Deportes Tolima; 0/0) Nicolás Hernández (Athletico Paranaense/BRA; 0/0), Andrés Lilnás (Millionarios; 2/0), Juan David Mosquera (Portland Timbers/USA; 0/0), Alexis Pérez (Giresunspor/TUR), Andrés Reyes (New York Red Bulls/USA; 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Jorman Campuzano (Giresunspor/TUR; 2/0), Kevin Castaño (Águilas Doradas; 0/0), Daniel Cataño (Millionarios; 0/0) Daniel Ruiz (Millionarios; 0/0), Yilmar Velasquez (Deportivo Pereira; 0/0)
FORWARDS (6): Christian Arango (LAFC/USA; 1/0), Dylan Borrero (New England Revolution/USA; 0/0), Didier Cambindo (Independiente Medellín; 0/0), Cucho Hernández (Columbus Crew/USA; 2/2), Santiago Moreno (Portland Timbers/USA; 1/0), Diego Valoyes (Talleres/ARG; 3/0)
IN FOCUS: COLOMBIA
- Colombia narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, finishing just one point behind Peru for CONMEBOL’s inter-confederation playoff berth and three points behind Ecuador for the fourth and final automatic qualifying spot.
- Nine of Colombia’s 20 players compete domestically in the Categoría Primera A, including current leader Millonarios. The other players are based in the U.S. (six), Argentina and Turkey (two each) and Brazil (one).
- Defender David Mosquera and forward Santiago Moreno are teammates with U.S. midfielder Eryk Williamson on the Portland Timbers.
- Forward Christian Arango and U.S. midfielder Kellyn Acosta lifted the 2022 MLS Cup together with LAFC.
- Defender Andrés Reyes plays alongside defender John Tolkin with the New York Red Bulls, forward Dylan Borrero is teammates with defender DeJuan Jones at New England Revolution and forward Cucho Hernández plays with midfielder Aidan Morris on the Columbus Crew.
- Eleven players in Los Cafeteros’ squad are seeking their international debut against the U.S. Defender Frank Fabra’s 26 caps lead Colombia.
- Head coach Nestór Lorenzo took the helm of Colombia in July 2022 following its unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign. He’s an undefeated 3-0-0 in his first three matches, all played in the United States.
- Lorenzo previously served as an assistant for Colombia from 2012-19. He took charge of Los Cafeteros after his first head coaching job at Melgar in Peru.
- A former Argentina international, Lorenzo enjoyed a lengthy playing career in Argentina, Italy and England.