Preview: USMNT Kicks Off 2026 FIFA World Cup Cycle Against … – U.S. Soccer

CHICAGO (Jan. 23, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team will start the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle against Serbia on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The journey to hosting the world’s biggest sporting event alongside Canada and Mexico begins this week as a young U.S. roster will look to make their mark with the USMNT alongside a number of veterans returning from the USA’s successful showing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Kickoff for USA-Serbia from BMO Stadium in Los Angeles is set for 10 p.m. ET on Jan. 25 on HBO Max, Universo, Peacock and the Telemundo App.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Sean Johnson (Unattached; 10/0), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad/ESP; 1/0), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN; 0/0), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution; 0/0), Aaron Long (LAFC; 29/3), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg/NOR; 0/0), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 37/3)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 0/0), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 55/2), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew; 0/0), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; 1/0), Alan Soñora (Unattached; 0/0), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; 4/0)
FORWARDS (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 48/10), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; 1/0), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 16/7), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough/ENG; 6/1), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense/DEN; 0/0), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America/MEX; 0/0)
With the match dates falling outside of the designated international calendar, clubs are not required to release players for national team duty. The January camp typically consists largely of U.S.-based players who are not in season.
Time (ET)
TV Info
Wednesday, Jan. 25
BMO Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.
10 p.m.
HBO Max, Universo, Peacock, Telemundo App
Saturday, Jan. 28
Dignity Health Sports Park; Carson, Calif.
7:30 p.m.
TNT, Telemundo, Peacock, Telemundo App
Dating back to 1999, 30 players who have debuted or earned their second cap during the USMNT’s first camp of a calendar year have gone on to make a FIFA World Cup roster. From the USA’s squad at Qatar 2022, nine players earned their first or second cap during a January camp match, including captain Tyler Adams, forward Brenden Aaronson, defenders Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream and starting goalkeeper Matt Turner. That figure also includes five members of the 100-cap club: Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
The USMNT’s January training camp roster is traditionally filled with rising talents getting their first looks with the senior team and this year’s squad is no different. Eleven players have earned their first USMNT call-up — goalkeeper Roman Celentano, defenders Julian Gressel, Jalen Neal, Sam Rogers and John Tolkin, midfielders Paxten Aaronson, Aidan Morris and Alan Soñora plus forwards Emmanuel Sabbi, Brandon Vazquez and Alejandro Zendejas. In addition, goalkeeper Gaga Slonina and defender DeJuan Jones join the aforementioned 11 in seeking their full international debut against Serbia and Colombia. Five other players have six or fewer USMNT appearances — defender Jonathan Gómez, midfielders Paxton Pomykal and Eryk Williamson plus forwards Cade Cowell and Matthew Hoppe.
The young, uncapped players come with plenty of experience in the U.S. Men’s Youth National Teams program. Last summer, Aaronson, Cowell and Neal helped lead the USA to a third-straight Concacaf U-20 Championship, a berth to the Olympics for the first time since Beijing 2008 and a spot in this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup. First-time call-ups Vazquez and Zendejas represented the USA at the 2015 U-17 World Cup, while Sabbi was a part of the U.S. team at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
In addition to the young talent getting an opportunity this month, five players return from the USMNT’s successful run at the World Cup — goalkeeper Sean Johnson, defenders Zimmerman and Aaron Long, midfielder Kellyn Acosta and forward Jesús Ferreira. Zimmerman played a key role on the U.S. back line, appearing in every match and making a critical goal line clearance late in the USMNT’s knockout round-clinching victory against Iran. Acosta made two substitute appearances in Qatar and Ferreira started in the Round of 16 match against Netherlands.
USMNT assistant coach Anthony Hudson will lead the training camp while fellow World Cup assistant B.J. Callaghan and Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team head coach Mikey Varas will serve as assistant coaches amid the ongoing investigation around head coach Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer’s full review of the USMNT program following the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup still underway.
In the past, the customary review of the past four years of the entire program following a World Cup would begin in the summer, well ahead of any year-end contract expiration. The unique November-December timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar significantly reduced the amount of time that the Federation would have to conduct a proper assessment prior to the end of the head coach’s contract.

After the condensed World Cup qualifying schedule featured three Octagonal matches for the USMNT during January/February 2022, the USA returns to the passionate soccer community in the Los Angeles area to launch its four-year run up to hosting the world’s biggest sporting event – the 2026 FIFA World Cup – alongside Canada and Mexico.
The USMNT has played in California 114 times, more than any other state, with 43 of those matches taking place in Carson and Los Angeles. USA-Serbia marks the USMNT’s first game at LAFC’s BMO Stadium, while the U.S. is 12-2-3 at Dignity Health Sports Park all-time and 11-7-9 in matches played in Los Angeles proper. SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. is one of 11 U.S. host venues for the 2026 World Cup.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Dorde Petrović (New England Revolution/USA; 1/0), Dragan Rosić (Radnički Niš; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (5): Filip Damjanović (Voždovac; 0/0), Marko Mijailović (Voždovac; 0/0), Nemanja Petrović (TSC; 0/0), Nemanja Stojić (TSC; 0/0), Ranko Veselinović (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; 1/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Luka Bijelović (Spartak Subotica; 0/0), Luka Ilić (TSC; 0/0), Marko Ivezić (Voždovac; 0/0), Vladimir Lučić (Čukarički; 0/0), Miloš Pantović (Voždovac; 0/0), Nikola Petković (Čukarički; 0/0), Veljko Simić (Vojvodina; 0/0), Mirko Topić (Vojvodina; 0/0)
FORWARDS (2): Dejan Jovelijić (LA Galaxy/USA; 2/0), Nikola Štulić (Radnički Niš)
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