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USMNT takes the first step towards the 2026 World Cup by losing to Serbia

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Every journey begins with a single step. However, the challenge is knowing which way to go and how long it will take to get there.

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the United States men’s national soccer team, currently without a permanent coach, general manager, or any real sense of direction, knows none of those things. However, she took an uneven first step in her journey to the next World Cup exactly on Wednesday, losing 2-1 decision by Serbia In front of a scant crowd at the newly christened BMO Stadium.

United States co-host World Cup 2026Along with Canada and Mexico, pressure is already building on the Americans to make a deep run in the tournament. The United States has only reached the quarter-finals once in the modern era, and anything short of the quarter-finals in 2026 would be considered disappointing.

Wednesday’s young and inexperienced team will not be the first World Cup. Lacking a FIFA competition window, the United States was unable to call upon the European position to its roster. Instead, caretaker coach Anthony Hudson called up five players from last year’s World Cup squad and 13 others who had never appeared in a senior national team game.

But then the journey to becoming a World Cup player also begins with a single step, and January camp has often offered the following: Since 1999, 30 men who made their first or second appearance for the national team in Camp 1 of a calendar year have been awarded He went on to play in the World Cup, and among them are Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, the top three scorers in the team’s history.

That’s a solid track record that Hudson hopes to build on, continuing the philosophy of Greg Berhalter, who tried out 88 players while posting the best record by a men’s coach in American football history during his four years in charge. Hudson’s starting lineup on Wednesday including seven starters and three others playing only their second game for the United States. The Americans haven’t seen that many rookies make their international debuts in a single game since 1988.

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United States forward Cady Coyle (20) and Serbia defender Marko Mijalovic (5) tangle during the second half of an international friendly match at BMO Arena on Wednesday.

(Ashley Landis/The Associated Press)

“Overall, I was really happy with the performance,” said Hudson, an assistant during last month’s World Cup who manages the team while US Soccer weighs its future with Berhalter, whose contract expired at the end of last year. “Individually, there were some really great performances. I thought we showed a lot of courage. Very thoughtful. I love the fact that the guys were really driving going forward.

“I’m obviously disappointed with the result. But the way they wanted the game to be, that was it [positive]. “

Seven starters are dual nationals and two of them teamed up to give the USA an early lead, with Brandon Vazquez heading in Julien Grissel’s long cross from the right wing in the 29th minute. But after a solid opening half hour, the team’s youth and inexperience showed through, allowing Serbia to The United States leveled the score on Luka Ilic’s free kick across the wall just before the break, then took the lead less than a minute into the second half when Nikola Stolic chipped the ball away from Jalen Neal momentarily into the path of teammate Veljko Simic, who fired a right-footed shot from the center of the area. penalty.

Cady Coyle, one of five teenagers on the US roster, had two chances to tie the score after 10 minutes, but hit shots from both posts with only 20 seconds left. The USA easily won the battle for possession and beat Serbia 20-11, but only five of those attempts were on target.

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