Amid administrative turmoil, the United States of America launches a new World Cup tournament with a loss to Serbia | United States of America

Alexi Lalas succinctly described the environment around the USA’s first camp since the World Cup in Qatar.

“January camps are always a bit weird, but that’s more because of the circumstances,” the player-turned-announcer told Sirius XM satellite radio.

In the midst of those circumstances, a young team without the vast majority of its World Cup representatives lost its first match since returning from Qatar. inexperienced Serbia The team rallied to win 2-1 in a friendly game Wednesday night in front of 11,475 spectators at BMO Stadium, the former Bank of California stadium.

Circumstances include the coach of the World Cup team, a talented young player, their families, physical abuse, possible blackmail and ongoing investigation. Combined, all of these factors can play a pivotal role in determining a team’s future.

As a refresher: Greg Berhalter, who captained the US national team in Qatar, told the 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder, Gio Reina, that he would have a minimal role during the tournament. Reina’s parents, Claudio and Daniel, have also represented the United States internationally, with Claudio playing three World Cups and top-flight clubs in England, Scotland and Germany.

Both families were close. The husbands were high school and World Cup teammates, and the wives were college roommates.

But during the World Cup, Berhalter received a letter from someone who claimed to have information that would “bring me down,” as he put it.

After the World Cup, Berhalter spoke on December 6 at a leadership conference and described how he and the team disciplined a player for poor coaching efforts. Although Berhalter didn’t mention any names, Gio Reina was that player. Five days later, US Soccer, the national association, was contacted by Danielle Reyna revealing of This is Berhalter kick his future wife at his legs outside a bar in 1991, when Berhalter was a freshman at North Carolina State.

The NFL is now investigating Berhalter, who admitted the incident and whose contract expired after the World Cup.

Gio Reina stirred up controversy on Sunday with a goal celebration that seemed destined for his parents, American football, Berhalter…or all three. (He came from L’s bench Score another winner in stoppage time Dortmund on Wednesday.)

It was into this quagmire that Anthony Hudson, one of Berhalter’s lieutenants, climbed. The son of former Stoke City, Chelsea and England midfielder Alan Hudson has become acting manager for this week’s friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.

“Really, there is no training course or anything to guide you in moments like this,” said Hudson, who managed the New Zealand and Bahrain national teams before joining Berhalter. “This is a really different situation.”

Complicating the situation is Hudson’s relationship with Berhalter.

“Listen, I’m close to Greg,” said Hudson. “It wasn’t easy for me. We got to explore together. We did a lot of projects during that time. I have a lot of respect for Gregg. I have a lot to be grateful to Gregg for giving me the chance. He’s still a good man.”

Hudson’s friendship with Berhalter only adds to the pain for the team.

“I think we all share the same grief,” Hudson said. “Everyone is affected by it. You know, it’s a real shame because so much good work has been done. It’s a shame for everyone involved: the players, the crew, Greg. It’s not a pretty situation. When all this happened, all the attention went away from all the good work.” And turn in another direction.

But while preparing for a camp without most of these World Cup veterans, Hudson had to redirect focus. The composition of the roster intensified the challenge: 13 members had not played in a senior international match, and six were aged 20 or younger.

Anthony Hudson
Acting USA coach Anthony Hudson instructed Matthew Hobby during Wednesday’s friendly against Serbia. Photo: John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

But the team included five players from the World Cup squad: defenders Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long, midfielders Clean Acosta, forward Jesus Ferreira and goalkeeper Sean Johnson. They were joined by veteran striker Paul Areola.

“When they came, we had a meeting with the leadership group.” Hudson said. “I shared my personal view of the situation a little bit. I tried to be very honest. We talked about what camp was like. Then I said, ‘I’m going to count on you more in this camp. We have a younger squad and we count on you to keep the standards high, help the younger players, help the team culture, And helping teach some of the players some of the nuances of how we play.”


“The atmosphere in the locker room is great,” said forward Brandon Vazquez. “Everybody’s doing really well. Every time we step on the field, you can see it. The team chemistry is really there even though we’ve got a lot of fresh faces. Everyone who watches the USA knows exactly what their style of play is and we step in and do just that.”

“I think the emotions, the atmosphere and the energy of the group were amazing, as if it were nothing,” added Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Bakstein Aronson. “A lot of it goes to the key players, the guys who have experience here, like Walker, Aaron, Paul. They’ve done a great job of keeping the standards high and telling the new players what you have to achieve, what you have to achieve.”

Hudson did not express surprise.

“That is why we chose them to enter,” he said, “because we know the character of these men.”

In Serbia, the United States faced an opponent with only three players competing for the national team, the most experienced having only made two appearances. None of the 18 have played in the World Cup.

The USA took a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute from Vazquez’s nine-yard header off a Julian Grisel right wing pass. But Serbian Luka Ilic converted a free kick from 21 yards in the 43rd minute, then in the 46th minute Veljko Simic scored from 13 yards after receiving a ball from Nikola Stolic, who sent off the Americans’ Jalen Neal.

“I was disappointed with the result, but I was really happy with the performance,” Hudson said. “We created a lot of good chances. Individually, there were some really great performances. When we got a goal behind us. I thought we showed a lot of courage. I liked the fact that the guys were really driving up and attacking the defence.”

The United States will wrap up this month’s camp on Saturday with a friendly against Colombia in neighboring Carson. Beyond that …

“Ultimately, it’s out of our hands, and there’s nothing we can say about it,” said midfielder Paxton Boomical.

Hudson expressed similar sentiments with little personal eloquence.

“We are playing these two games,” he said. “After that, I’ll go home and see my dogs and see what comes next.”

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