The United States men’s national team kicked off the 2026 World Cup cycle with a 2-1 defeat vs. Serbia in Los Angeles, Calif. on Wednesday. The squads that played the match were far from either’s team “A-list” players with seven USMNT starters making their debuts.
With plenty of fresh blood out on the field it was a surprise to see captain and World Cup starter Walker Zimmerman be the one to make a huge mistake.
Serbia had a free kick from a dangerous position in the 43rd minute and Luka Ilic was able to sneak it through the wall and past Gaga Slonina to tie the game at 1-1.
A look at the replay showed how the ball got through the wall so easily. Zimmerman… what was the plan here?
Zimmerman Wall Fail vs. Serbia
Luka Ilić sneaks it through the wall to level it for Serbia pic.twitter.com/XLlIu2XL0k
— Bounce Pass (@henrybalboa19) January 26, 2023
Lol way to jump to the side Zimmerman ♂️♂️♂️— Ben Gonzales (@bengonzales53) January 26, 2023
The WC veteran is that one that broke the wall…?— Jackson (@dumonster16) January 26, 2023
Zimmerman was the only player in the U.S. starting XI to get minutes at the World Cup and couldn’t have made a worse rookie mistake. Imagine being Slonina who had dreamt of his USMNT debut just for his 29-year-old captain to start busting out kung fu moves during a free kick.
The U.S. captain was hooked at halftime for Aaron Long. Serbia would score 45 seconds into Long’s introduction, but you can’t put too much blame on him for this goal.
Serbia take the 2-1 lead just 45 seconds into the second half pic.twitter.com/Rmo5v06yR1
There were several bright spots and promising signs from the youthful USMNT side. Cade Cowell looked dangerous throughout the game and was unlucky not to get a goal. He hit both posts in the span of 30 seconds.
The posts deny Cade Cowell TWICE ❌ pic.twitter.com/yWqbqFFHNk
The sole goal from the USMNT came from the much-anticipated Brandon Vazquez. What a ball from 29-year-old Julian Gressel and a perfect header.
Brandon Vazquez scores on his USMNT debut pic.twitter.com/Cz4Etf06Tf
The USMNT will play another friendly vs. Colombia on Saturday. We’ll see what interim head coach Anthony Hudson does to spice up the starting lineup and game plan for that game. Hopefully no more interpretive dance during opposing free kicks.