Preview: USA vs. Serbia – prediction, team news, lineups – Sports Mole

Over a month after their World Cup campaign ended, the USA will welcome Serbia to BMO Stadium in Los Angeles for a friendly on Wednesday.
It will only be the second time these nations meet on the international stage, with the first match between them resulting in a 0-0 draw in January 2017.

USA players pictured after their World Cup defeat to the Netherlands on December 3, 2022© Reuters
Making it into the last 16 at the World Cup seems like a distant memory for this American team, which has been marred by off-field distractions involving Gregg Berhalter, Giovanni Reyna and the Reyna family.
That matter has grabbed the headlines since the Yanks exited Qatar, and it will be the job of interim manager Anthony Hudson to bring some harmony within this group during this January camp while they search for a permanent manager, with Berhalter still a potential candidate.
Hudson went with a relatively inexperienced squad for these upcoming matches, emphasising the importance of identifying positions that need more depth, as he put it.
Of the 24 players selected for this game and the one versus Colombia, 13 have never featured for the senior side, while 17 have earned fewer than five caps.
Their play at the World Cup would suggest they need a number nine who is lethal in the attacking third, as the Yanks created their share of scoring opportunities but have only scored multiple goals in one of their previous seven fixtures in all competitions.
They have not lost an international encounter on home soil since dropping a 3-0 decision to Venezuela at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati in June 2019.
Their World Cup defeat to the Netherlands (3-1) was the first loss for this team against a European opponent since falling 2-1 versus Switzerland in a May 2021 friendly.
Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic celebrates after Dusan Vlahovic scores their second goal on December 2, 2022© Reuters
Another World Cup campaign ended in disappointment for Serbia, who were positioned to win match two and three, but ultimately wound up at the bottom of Group G with just a single point.
Given the talent on this squad, including Fulham’s top goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic and Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic, many believe they underperformed in Qatar.
Simply surviving as manager following the World Cup should feel like an achievement for Dragan Stojkovic, as the Serbian Football Federation have shown they are not afraid to sack a coach, with seven different individuals leading this team since 2014.
Like the US, Stojkovic has chosen a crop of newcomers to the national team for this friendly, with only three players previously featuring for the senior squad, while only one is 30 years or older.
It has been over a year since they last faced a CONCACAF opponent, drawing Jamaica 1-1 in June 2021, while Orlovi have only defeated teams from that region once before, claiming a 2-1 victory over the Reggae Boyz in a 2014 friendly played in New Jersey.
Despite their early exit at the finals, the Serbians will fancy their chances of qualifying for the upcoming Euros, in a group featuring their neighbours Montenegro, along with Lithuania, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Their current three-match winless run is the longest they have gone without an international triumph since going four straight games without a victory between June 2016 and January 2017.

Christian Pulisic leaves the field injured during the USA's World Cup clash with Iran on November 29, 2022© Reuters
Jesus Ferreira, Kellyn Acosta, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman and Sean Johnson were the only US World Cup members selected for this encounter.
Four players that were chosen for this window are under 20, including Paxten Aaronson, Jalen Neal, Jonathan Gomez and Gabriel Slonina.
Brandon Vazquez had 18 goals for FC Cincinnati during the 2022 Major League Soccer regular season as he finally earned his first call-up with the national team, Matthew Hoppe has not started a match this season for Middlesbrough in the Championship, Sam Rogers had five goals for Rosenborg during the previous domestic campaign in Norway, while Alejandro Zendejas has one goal in three domestic outings this season with Club America in Mexico.
The only three Serbian players called up for this match with previous senior experience all feature in MLS, including Dejan Joveljic, who scored 11 goals with the Los Angeles Galaxy last season.
Ranko Veselinovic was a mainstay in 2022 along the backline for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Djordje Petrovic was a revelation in goal with the New England Revolution.
The remaining players chosen for this encounter all apply their trade in the Serbian SuperLiga, including Nikola Stulic, who is second in the league, scoring 10 goals for Radnicki Nis, Veljko Simic has six domestically at Vojvodina, while Nikola Petkovic of Cukaricki is the only one on the current roster under the age of 20.
Nemanja Petrovic was the only Serbian selected who is 30 years of age, as he, Luka Ilic and Nemanja Stojic were the TSC Backa Topola players chosen for this encounter, while Luka Bijelovic is the only member of Spartak Subotica who will be joining the national team for this upcoming friendly.
USA possible starting lineup:
Slonina; Tolkin, Zimmerman, Long, Gressel; Aaronson, Acosta, Williamson; Vazquez; Arriola, Ferreira
Serbia possible starting lineup:
D. Petrovic; Veselinovic, N. Petrovic, Stojic; Simic, Ilic, Ivezic, Pantovic, Topic; Joveljic, Stulic

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Even though the American team is dealing with distractions off the field, on the field there are plenty of talented youngsters playing well at club level who have featured in big matches.
On the opposite side, the lack of experience and competitive matches both domestically and internationally among these Serbian players makes it difficult for us to expect much out of them on Wednesday.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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