A key year begins for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT). With the home World Cup rapidly approaching, the US must take advantage of every big game opportunity. Both the Nations League and the Copa America are on the docket for the US in 2024. But it all gets started against a team that the US played a thriller against at the 2010 World Cup: Slovenia.

As a key year begins, the annual January Camp is once again devoid of any of the big American stars. This has long been the case, given that this camp is not in an official FIFA window. As such, most of the present roster is made up of Olympic team hopefuls. The US men’s U-23 team will be competing at the Summer Olympics in Paris for the first time since Beijing 2008. And while three over 23 aged players are allowed, surely some of these players will benefit from a full national team camp.

Preview: A different USA roster Slovenia clash

Of the 24 players called in by Gregg Berhalter, only seven of them have ever appeared for the US at the international level. But it’s the uncapped players who figure to make the most of this camp and friendly game. The goalkeeping battle is between Drake Callender, Roman Celentano, and Patrick Shulte. The latter two are both 23 or younger.

The backline is where most of the experience in this team is. For example, Miles Robinson has 27 caps and three goals in a US shirt. However, as a key year begins for the US it’s the player under 23 that bear watching. Caleb Wiley, John Tolkin, and Nathan Harriel are all Olympic-age players and only Tolkin has any international experience (3 caps).

The midfield does feature Aidan Morris with four caps, but nobody else with any international appearances. Josh Atencio, Aziel Jackson, and Jack McGlynn are the players young enough to compete at the Olympics this summer.

None of the forwards on this roster have ever appeared for the US. The one to watch, however, is 20-year-old Diego Luna of Real Salt Lake. He scored five goals in 20 appearances for the US U-20 team and 13 goals in 41 appearances for the El Paso Locomotive in the USL Championship. In MLS, he bagged seven goals in 39 games for RSL.

Slovenian opponents

A key year begins, not just for the USMNT, but for their opponent Slovenia as well. They finished second in their group during Euro 2024 qualifying and were drawn into Group C for this tournament in Germany this summer, along with Denmark, Serbia, and England.

This isn’t the first time the US and Slovenia have met. The first meeting between the two teams was at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The US trailed 2-0 at halftime before a furious rally saw them equalize at 2-2 with less than ten minutes to play. The game is famous for the referee disallowing Maurice Edu’s last-second winner for no reason in particular. The following year, the US beat Slovenia 3-2 in Ljubljana for the second win of Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure.

The roster called in by manager Matjaz Kek (who was the Slovenia boss for that game at the World Cup) features mostly domestic-based players. However, it does include 19-year-old defender Mitja Ilenic of New York City FC in MLS. Ilenic could earn his first cap in this game.


As such a key year begins, it is nice to see US Soccer trying to take the USMNT to new locations. This particular game is in San Antonio, a city the USMNT hasn’t visited since an April 2015 friendly against Mexico. Unlike that game in the Alamodome, this game is at the home of USL Championship side San Antonio FC.

Kickoff on Saturday is at 2 p.m. Central Time at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. The game will air on TNT and Max in English, and on Telemundo and Peacock in Spanish.