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Friday, February 23, 2024

Slovenia Silences Energetic U.S. Men’s Team in Impressive 1-0 Victory

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An inexperienced U.S. men’s national team lost 1-0 to Slovenia in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday in its first match of the year. U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter, with the six substitutions available, used 11-first-time players.

Nejc Gradisar scored in the 26th minute and Igor Vekic made three saves for Slovenia.

Seven starters made their U.S. debuts: Josh Atencio, Bernard Kamungo, Diego Luna, Patrick Schulte, Timmy Tillman, Brian White and Sean Zawadzki.

Schulte and Zawadski along with starting midfielder Aidan Morris played for the 2023 MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew.

With Tillman joining his younger brother, Malik, in representing the national team, they became the 10th set of brothers to play for the U.S.

The U.S. starting lineup averaged 24 years, 95 days and six international appearances, led by Miles Robinson with 28.

In the 61st minute, Esmer Bajraktarevic, Jack McGlynn and Duncan McGuire debuted as did Aziel Jackson on the 89th minute.

Slovenia took the lead when Danijel Sturm created a turnover at midfield and sent Gradisar down the left flank where he used the outside of his right foot to slip the ball past the onrushing Schulte.

The U.S. was denied the equalizer four minutes later when Vekic denied Bernard Kamungo’s attempt from a pass by White.

Shaq Moore in the 57th minute tried to beat Vekic to the near left post to no avail. Schulte made a diving save to his left on a Sturm free kick from 19 yards with 15 minutes left. Schulte made three saves.

The U.S. kept pressing but Tolkin misfired on a pair of unmarked shots in the final nine minutes.

The match was particularly meaningful for a dozen age eligible U.S. players for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, the first participation for the U.S. men since 2008. The tournament features U-23 players with three over-age players allowed per team.

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