Preview: U.S Men’s National Team vs Serbia

IMAGE, USSOCCER.COM

by JACK HAZZARD

Sunday’s friendly match against Serbia’s National Team represents a “new” era for U.S. Soccer under Bruce Arena.

The former Los Angeles Galaxy head coach has been rewarded a second stint as the country’s manager and will have the opportunity to silence critics in his return against Serbia.

Tasked with making a squad fully composed of Major League Soccer players (excluding one Liga MX and an unattached player), Arena will take the U.S. into their first match of 2017 with hopes of starting off the year off right.

Due to most European countries’ leagues currently in midseason, many frequent Serbian stars will not be able to attend Sunday night’s game; thus, potentially, making the weekend a match a bit easier than expected.

Nevertheless, Serbia should not be taken lightly. The squad is composed mostly of domestic league players; however, a good deal of starters come from the historic Serbian side FK Partizan Belgrade, who frequently appear in UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League.

No matter the result, this Sunday’s match should not be taken to heart. Arena has been given a domestic roster that is prepared to experiment. U.S. fans should expect odd decisions and head-scratching position switches.

If there ever was a time to experiment as a head coach, it would this friendly match against Serbia.


 

PROJECTED STARTING XI: 

UNITED STATES: Luis Robles; Graham Zusi, Steve Birnbaum, Walker Zimmerman, Greg Garza; Darlington Nagbe, Benny Feilhaber, Michael Bradley (C), Sacha Kljestan, Sebastian Lletget; Jozy Altidore

SERBIA: Filip Manojlovic; Nemanja Miletic, Vladimir Kovacevic, Nikola Maras, Nemanja Calasan; Jovan Djokic, Srdjan Plavsic, Enver Alivodic, Aleksandar Palocevic; Sasa Jovanovic, Marko Mrkic

Player to Watch: For a month now, reports have suggested that Arena will try Sporting KC winger Graham Zusi at one of the wing back positions. Whether this turns out beautiful or dreadful, fans should keep an eye on the 30-year-old.

X-Factor: After being outcasted from the national team for a few years, Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber will be making his return to the pitch wearing red, white, and blue. The midfielder had a spectacular MLS season and has been underrated heavily in recent years.

How to Watch: Kickoff at 4 PM EST on ESPN2, UniMas, UDN

Location: Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego, California

Prediction: USA 3-1