United States
USMNT hope to bring focus back to field in Colombia friendly
United States

USMNT hope to bring focus back to field in Colombia friendly

Updated Jan. 28, 2023 12:45 a.m. ET

Less than two months after its run to the knockout stage at the 2022 World Cup ended with a round of 16 loss to the Netherlands, members of the United States men’s national team head into the squad’s second match of 2023 knowing the program will soon be without an entire front office in addition to having no full-time head coach.  

Saturday’s friendly against Colombia (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT, Peacock, Universo) comes on the heels of Thursday’s bombshell that USMNT general manager Brian McBride and U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart will be leaving their roles in the coming days and weeks. The future of World Cup coach Gregg Berhalter was already in limbo as the USSF awaits the results of an investigation into a 1991 domestic incident involving Berhalter, plus the behavior of midfielder Gio Reyna’s parents before they reported the episode to Stewart. Berhalter has been replaced, for now, on an interim basis by assistant coach Anthony Hudson.

It’s a lot to process for the players. One might expect an inexperienced young roster missing European-based standouts like Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie — most of the regulars are on club duty until FIFA’s next international window opens in late March — to be distracted or unsettled. Instead, it’s mostly been business as usual.

"It is a transitional time, but for us as players, the continuity of how we're playing and implementing what we've been doing over the past four years, it doesn't change too much for us right now in this moment," said defender Walker Zimmerman, one of five participants in this camp, which is comprised mostly of out-of-season MLSers, who went to the World Cup in Qatar. "We're going to continue to do that and continue to try and make an impression every single time we get to play for the United States."


Still, it’s a weird time for the USMNT. Hudson was only supposed to step in for two low profile January exhibitions; now he’s set to stay at the helm through two official competitions later this year, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Nations League, before a new coach is eventually named by the new sporting director.

The players have attempted to stay above the fray; Zimmerman said he’s been in touch with both Berhalter and Reyna in recent weeks. He revealed that Stewart, who has accepted the technical director job at Dutch titan PSV Eindhoven, pulled several of the veterans aside to tell them himself the night before the announcement. McBride’s departure had been previously reported. Both men will be missed.

"Always two upfront guys," Zimmerman said of the pair.

Turnover among management is normal in top-level sports, but Stewart’s revelation in particular blindsided to just about everyone. That it happened in between games also wasn’t ideal.

Gregg Berhalter's future with USMNT and where he may end up

Alexi Lalas and David Mosse breakdown where they think Gregg Berhalter stands with the U.S. men's national team.

The U.S. men dropped their first match of the new year on Wednesday, falling to Serbia 2-1. Despite fielding eight uncapped players, the Americans were lively and aggressive, with forwards Cade Cowell and Brandon Vázquez and 18-year-old goalkeeper Gaga Slonina among those who impressed. The U.S. still lost, though. "The result was really tough to take," Hudson said Friday.

The matchup against a dynamic Colombian side featuring elite MLS strikers Cristian Arango and Cucho Hernández likely won’t be any easier. "It’s a different type of test than the other night," Hudson said. "They're a good team."

Los Cafeteros also will have their fans behind them. A U.S. Soccer spokesman said the federation is on pace to sell out 27,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, with most of those in attendance expected to be supporting the visitors.

Meantime, Hudson’s lineup choices are limited by fitness restrictions; Zimmerman was the only World Cup player able to start earlier this week. The rest of the squad is in preseason form, too.

"We have to have a minimum amount of players that can play 90 minutes," Hudson said. "That in itself has been a challenge."

It’s been one of many this camp. The Qatar vets — Kellyn Acosta, Jesús Ferreira, Sean Johnson and Aaron Long are the others — plus popular longtime U.S. winger Paul Arriola have been instrumental in maintaining a sense of normalcy within the group.

They even got some good news on Friday; the U.S. will host the Copa America tournament in the summer of 2024, giving the hosts the chance to face the likes of Brazil and World Cup holder Argentina in the leadup to the 2026 World Cup. "It’s huge for us," Zimmerman said. "It’s something to look forward to."

First, they want to end the current camp on a strong note.

"It's been calm. It's been focused. It's been professional," Hudson said of the USMNT’s week-long stay in Los Angeles. "The senior guys in have helped drive the expectations on and off the field. So overall, the players and the staff pulling together have created a camp that's been really enjoyable to be a part of."

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

Top stories from FOX Sports:


Get more from United States Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more