PREVIEW: USMNT Opens 2024 Campaign Against Slovenia in San Antonio

TNT, Telemundo, MAX, Peacock, Universo and Futbol de Primera Radio to Carry Live From Toyota Park at 3 p.m. ET

CHICAGO (Jan. 19, 2024) — With a massive year of important official competitions on the horizon, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has called 25 MLS-based players to Orlando for the annual U.S. Men’s National Team’s January training camp. With the match date falling outside a FIFA international window, the training camp and match against Slovenia provide a huge opportunity for the next generation to make a statement during an important year for U.S. Men’s National Team programs which includes the opportunity to win a third-straight Concacaf Nations League championship in March as well as compete in the prestigious Copa America and the 2024 Olympic Games.

The USMNT opens its 2024 schedule with a friendly against Slovenia on Jan. 20 at Toyota Field. Coverage of the USA’s first match of the year begins at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT) on TNT, Telemundo, Universo, MAX and Peacock. Live Spanish-language audio for the match will be available on Fútbol de Primera radio.

Fans will also be able to follow the matches via Facebook, Twitter @USMNT, Instagram @USMNT and the official U.S. Soccer App.

DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (Club/Country; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Drake Callender (Inter Miami; 0/0), Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution; 7/0), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC; 17/1), Ian Murphy (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati; 27/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 13/0), Nkosi Tafari (FC Dallas; 0/0), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; 3/0), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United; 1/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Joshua Atencio (Seattle Sounders; 0/0), Aziel Jackson (St. Louis City; 0/0), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew; 4/0), Timmy Tillman (LAFC; 0/0), Sean Zawadzki (Columbus Crew; 0/0)

FORWARDS (5): Esmir Bajraktarevic (New England Revolution; 0/0), Bernard Kamungo (FC Dallas; 0/0), Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Duncan McGuire (Orlando City; 0/0), Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN; 0/0)

ROSTER UPDATES

Two players departed training camp during the team’s eight-day stay in Orlando. Cade Cowell was given permission to leave to complete a transfer from San Jose Earthquakes to Chivas de Guadalajara in Liga MX. Seattle Sounders defender Jackson Ragen left after aggravating a prior knee injury, returning to Seattle for further evaluation and treatment.

TROPHY HOLDERS

MLS Cup winning Columbus Crew have three players on the roster, including goalkeeper Patrick Schulte and midfielders Aidan Morris and Sean Zawadzki. Supporters Shield winners FC Cincinnati send a trio, with newly acquired defender Miles Robinson joining goalkeeper Roman Celentano and defender Ian Murphy.

CHANCE TO MAKE THEIR CASE

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. Fourteen players on the roster earn their first call-ups to a USMNT camp: Josh Atencio, Esmir Bajraktarevic, Nathan Harriel, Aziel Jackson, Bernard Kamungo, Diego Luna, Jack McGlynn, Duncan McGuire, Ian Murphy, Patrick Schulte, Nkosi Tafari, Timmy Tillman, Brian White, and Sean Zawadzki.

Goalkeepers Roman Celentano and Drake Callender, both of whom were a part of USMNT camps in 2023, join the above as part of the group of 16 uncapped players on the roster.

The young players come with plenty of experience in the U.S. Men’s Youth National Teams program. A total of five players have represented the United States in Youth World Cups, including four at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup. The full group: Diego Luna (2023 U-20 WC), Jack McGlynn (2023 U-20 WC), Shaq Moore (2015 U-20 WC), James Sands (2017 U-17 WC), Caleb Wiley (2023 U-20 WC).

With the United States participating in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament for the first time since 2008, this window provides another spotlight. U-23 head coach Marko Mitrovic is on the technical staff for this camp and will have the chance to observe 12 players who are age-eligible for the 2024 Summer Olympics: Atencio, Bajraktarevic, Harriel, Jackson, Kamungo, Luna, McGlynn, McGuire, Morris, Schulte, Tolkin and Wiley.

PROVIDING LEADERSHIP

The roster has been infused with a core of experience, with eight of the 25 players having earned senior team caps and three holding double digit appearances: Robinson (27), Moore (17), Sands (13), Cowell (8), Jones (7), Morris (4), Tolkin (3) and Wiley (1).

TURNING JANUARY CAMP TIME INTO WORLD CUP OPPORTUNITIES

The annual January Camp has a long history of providing opportunities for MLS-based players to get an extended look from the coaching staff and make an impact. Dating 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. The list of alumni also includes five members of the 100-cap club: Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.

UPCOMING COMPETITION 

The first match of the year is a prelude to three significant competitions in 2024 for both the senior team and the U-23 USMNT. 

The USMNT kicks it off with the Concacaf Nations League final four in March. Having won the first two editions of the tournament, the U.S. will face Jamaica in the first semifinal on March 21 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

In June, the U.S. will compete in the prestigious 2024 Copa America featuring 10 CONMEBOL nations including defending World Cup and Copa America champion Argentina led by captain and Inter Miami attacker Lionel Messi. The U.S. will compete in Group C and face Uruguay, Panama and Bolivia.

For the first time since 2008, the U.S. qualified to compete in the Olympic Games. The tournament will be held from July 24-Aug. 10 in France, and features players under the age of 23, with the ability to include three overage players on the roster.

IN SAN ANTONIO

Playing at the home of 2022 USL Championship winners San Antonio FC, this marks the second time U.S. Soccer will host a match in the venue of a club currently playing in the United Soccer League during the modern era. As part of its strategic initiatives, U.S. Soccer wants to grow participation, increase retention and ensure lifelong connections to the game.

Toyota Field has hosted several notable matches throughout the years which have included European teams like Cardiff City, Sunderland, as well as several Liga MX teams.

With more than 9,000 tickets already sold, the USA-Slovenia match will set an attendance record at Toyota Field.

This will be the USA’s third visit to San Antonio, and the first since 2015. In that match, Stanford University sophomore Jordan Morris scored early in the second half in his first start for the U.S. and Juan Agudelo added his first international goal in four years and the Americans dispatched Mexico by their traditional 2-0 score in front of a sold-out crowd of 64,639 at the Alamodome.

USMNT ROSTER NOTES:

  • The 23-player roster will have an average age of 24 years, 154 days on matchday.
  • With three players each, Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati lead the way for the 16 clubs with representation on the January camp roster. The Ohio contingent is followed by FC Dallas, New England Revolution, and Philadelphia Union (2 each), and Atlanta United, Inter Miami, LAFC, Nashville SC, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City, Real Salt Lake, St. Louis City, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps (1 each).
  • As the lone member of the 2022 FIFA World Cup squad on the January roster, defender Shaq Moore will be looking for his first USMNT appearance since the 1-0 win against IR Iran on Nov. 29, 2022.
  • The leading cap-winner on the January roster, veteran defender Miles Robinson earned the call-up two days after signing a free agent deal with FC Cincinnati. Robinson recorded his first international goal during January camp, scoring in the 7-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 31, 2021, in Orlando.
  • Fullbacks DeJuan Jones and John Tolkin earned their USMNT debuts during last January camp. Jones came off the bench versus Serbia on Jan. 25, 2023, in Los Angeles while Tolkin started in the 0-0 draw with Colombia on Jan. 28, 2023, in Carson, Calif.
  • The older brother of USMNT midfielder Malik Tillman, Timmy Tillman will look to earn his USMNT debut on Jan. 20 against Slovenia. Should he appear, the Tillmans would become the 10th set of brothers to earn caps for the USMNT
  • Eighteen players are products of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, with 15 having been developed by MLS clubs: Josh Atencio (Crossfire Premier, Seattle Sounders), Esmir Bajraktarevic (Chicago Fire, New England Revolution), Drake Callender (San Jose Earthquakes), Roman Celentano (Sockers FC), Nathan Harriel (Chargers SC), Aziel Jackson (New York Red Bulls, Crossfire Premier), Diego Luna (San Jose Earthquakes, Barca Residency Academy), Jack McGlynn (BW Gottschee, Philadelphia Union), Shaq Moore (FC Dallas), Aidan Morris (Weston FC, Columbus Crew), Ian Muphy (FC Golden State), Miles Robinson (FC Boston Bolts), James Sands (New York City FC), Patrick Schulte (St. Louis Scott Gallagher, Saint Louis FC), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Brian White (Players Development Academy), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United), Sean Zawadzki (Columbus Crew).

USA-SLOVENIA NOTES

  • San Antonio is hosting the first friendly encounter between the teams on U.S. soil.
  • The USMNT holds a 1-0-1 record overall in the series, with the most famous meeting coming in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Following the USA’s 1-1 draw with England to open the tournament, Slovenia jumped to a 2-0 lead before halftime, setting the stage for a dramatic U.S. comeback. Landon Donovan cut the deficit in half in the 48th minute and then Michael Bradley buried the equalizer in the 82nd. Three minutes later, Maurice Edu appeared to have scored the go-ahead goal which was controversially nullified by referee Koman Coulibaly. 
  • The following year, a goal and assist by Clint Dempsey and a game-winning penalty conversion by Jozy Altidore paced the USA to a 3-2 victory on Nov. 15, 2011, in Ljubljana.

JAY DEMERIT BRINGS USA-SLOVENIA MEMORIES TO SAN ANTONIO

2010 FIFA World Cup veteran Jay DeMerit will make a special pre-game appearance at U.S. Soccer’s Fan HQ ahead of the USA-Slovenia match. A starter in the 2-2 draw against Slovenia in South Africa, DeMerit's journey is nothing short of remarkable. After backpacking across Europe in search of a club, he went from playing at a ninth division team in England to representing the United States in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  He played 25 times for the U.S. National Team, and in just a four-year span he helped the U.S. win the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup, defeat No. 1-ranked Spain in the semifinal of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and play in all four matches in the World Cup in South Africa. A legend at Watford FC, in 2006 he scored the game-winning goal in the 3-0 victory in the Promotion Playoff Final that sent Watford into the Premier League for only the second time in club history. DeMerit captained the club for three seasons before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS in 2011. His life and career were documented in the 2011 film "Rise and Shine".

SLOVENIA OF LATE

Slovenia recently qualified for the UEFA Euro 2024 championship, finishing tied on points with Group H winners Denmark. The Slovenians have won four of their last five matches, scoring 11 goals and recording three clean sheets. They finished qualifying for the Euros with a 7-2-1 record, and have been drawn into Group C along with Denmark, England and Serbia for the tournament to be played this summer in Germany.

SLOVENIA ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Igor Vekič (Vejle Boldklub/DEN), Klemen Mihelak (NŠ Mura), Denis Pintol (NK Olimpija Ljubljana)

DEFENDERS (8): Mitja Ilenič (New York City FC/USA), Žan Karničnik (NK Celje), Matija Kavčič (NK Bravo),Srđan Kuzmić (Viborg FF/DEN),Marcel Ratnik (NK Olimpija Ljubljana),Sven Šoštarič (NK Maribor), Karić Žan Zaletel Viborg FF (DEN), David Zec (NK Celje)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Adrian Zeljković (Spartak Trnava/SVK), Mark Zabukovnik (NK Celje), Tamar Svetlin (NK Celje), Jan Repas (NK Maribor), Timi Max Elšnik (NK Olimpija Ljubljana), Luka Vešner Tičič (FC Koper)

FORWARDS (4): Danijel Šturm (NK Domžale), Nejc Gradišar  (NK Rogaška), Andres Vombergar Al Ittihad Kalba (KSA), Matej Poplatnik (NK Bravo)

ROSTER NOTES:

  • A total of 16 players are seeking to earn their first cap for the senior national team
  • Žan Karničnik is the leading cap-winner on the roster with 16 appearances
  • With seven goals each, Nejc Gradišar and Matej Poplatnik are tied for second place on the scoring chart in the Slovenian PrvaLiga
  • Danijel Šturm is one behind with six total
  • Mitja Ilenič is a defender for New York City Football Club, making 22 appearances during the 2023 campaign and recording two assists

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