Brandon Vazquez scored in his senior-team debut but the US men's national team fell 2-1 to Serbia in an international friendly at LAFC's BMO Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Returning to action in 2023 for the first time since their elimination from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the US couldn't quite protect the 1-0 first-half lead afforded by Vazquez's opener, conceding to the Serbians both directly before and after the halftime whistle.
The Yanks notched an opener in the 29th minute, courtesy of Vazquez's first USMNT goal. The FC Cincinnati standout was set up by a pinpoint cross from Vancouver Whitecaps right back Julian Gressel, and he capitalized with a perfectly flicked header that nestled inside the far post.
The US couldn't get the lead to halftime, however, as Serbia equalized just before the intermission off a free kick from just outside the area that was won by LA Galaxy forward Dejan Joveljić. Luka Ilić converted the ensuing dead ball, sneaking his attempt through the wall and past US goalkeeper and former Chicago Fire FC homegrown standout Gaga Slonina. The Serbians then snatched the lead virtually immediately after the second-half restart through captain Veljko Simić, who pounced on a giveaway at the back and slotted home a wide-open finish.
That proved to be the decisive goal, as the Yanks saw their best chances at an equalizer denied in agonizing fashion in the 56th minute. San Jose Earthquakes homegrown Cade Cowell was at the center of each of them, finding two different shots on goal from inside the area that each glanced off the woodwork.
- 29' - USA - Brandon Vazquez
- 43' - SER - Luka Ilić
- 46' - SER - Veljko Simić
- THE BIG PICTURE: Fielding a youthful lineup with seven senior-team debutants in the starting XI, US fans got treated to some highlight moments from several players aiming to make a case for future caps, including Vazquez's goal and a spectacular double-save from Slonina. Those are the type of moments that can lay the foundation for the future, which is what it's all about at the moment as the program starts the road to the 2026 World Cup set to be hosted in the US, Mexico and Canada.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The USMNT's first-half opener saw a pair of former Atlanta United teammates connect for a slick goal. The finish from Vazquez was the type of goal he scored all last season for FC Cincinnati, and the dime from Gressel was equally sublime.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Cade Cowell put in a dynamic shift and was really unlucky to not find the scoresheet. The future is bright for the 19-year-old San Jose product, who picked up his second cap in this contest.
- USA: Saturday, January 28 vs. Colombia | 7:30 pm ET (TNT, Telemundo, Peacock) | International Friendly