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USA stars to watch in its first games since shock 'blackmail' scandal

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USA stars to watch in its first games since shock 'blackmail' scandal

In a time of such turmoil within US Soccer, this January camp could show American fans a reason to look forward to the future.

While the governing body conducts its investigation into the conduct of World Cup manager Gregg Berhalter – Austin FC general manager and USMNT legend Claudio Reyna and his wife brought them to the fore – United still have battles to fight. States to play.

They will take part in their first of two friendlies on Wednesday against Serbia in Carson, CA – just outside of Los Angeles.

Interim manager Anthony Hudson has called up 11 players who have yet to appear for the USA

Interim manager Anthony Hudson has called up 11 players who have not yet appeared for the USA

Interim manager Anthony Hudson has named a squad that skews young – featuring 11 players set to make their debuts for the US Men’s National Team.

From that eleven, Dailymail.com picks the names to watch for this game against Serbia and the upcoming match against Colombia on January 28.

From promising goalkeepers to two players playing for the US for the first time, and late bloomers, these are the names that could impact the team this week – and ultimately push for a roster spot on the 2026 World Cup squad .

Paxten Aaronson, MF, Eintracht Frankfurt

The younger brother of Leeds United midfielder Brenden Aaronson earned his first call-up for the USMNT in these friendlies.

After a great season with the Philadelphia Union – which went to the finals of the MLS Cup 2022 – he made the move overseas to German giants Eintracht Frankfurt.

While it remains to be seen if he can be as good as his brother (or possibly better than him), this would be a great start to his career in the United States.

Gaga Slonina, GK, Chelsea

American keepers have had a great past few decades when playing abroad in the Premier League and Gabriel ‘Gaga’ Slonina could be the next in line.

He looks to be the next on a roster of England-based USMNT keepers, along with players like Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Brad Guzan, and Tim Howard.

Having just completed a move to Chelsea from the Chicago Fire in the New Year, Slonina has now returned to training stateside with the USA and could be set for his first appearance against the Americans.

Gaga Slonina may have what it takes to be England's next great American keeper

Gaga Slonina may have what it takes to be England’s next great American keeper

Brandon Vazquez, FW, FC Cincinnati

Brandon Vazquez was viewed by some segments of the USMNT fanbase as a potential solution to the problems they had in attack.

The 24-year-old forward had a great season last year with FC Cincinnati, leading up to this call-up.

Vazquez played alongside names like Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2015, so he could fit into this team when the starters return.

Brandon Vazquez is set to officially lock down the United States as his country of representation

Brandon Vazquez is set to officially lock down the United States as his country of representation

Alejandro Zendejas, FW, Club America

Zendejas’ selection in the USMNT is a bit more complicated, as he took the field in two games for Mexico.

He took the pitch for El Tri in October of 2021 and April of 2022 in friendlies against Ecuador and El Salvador played in the United States.

However, the FMF was told to forfeit those matches – as well as the three Under-23 games – for their improper use of Zendejas. They were also ordered to pay approximately $11,000 in fines.

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That’s because Zendejas played alongside Vazquez in the 2015 U17 World Cup for the United States – meaning he had to get a one-time transfer to play for Mexico.

After legal struggles over appearances for Mexico, Alejandro Zendejas is on the roster

After legal struggles over appearances for Mexico, Alejandro Zendejas is on the roster

That didn’t happen, so Zendejas didn’t make an official appearance on the Mexican national team.

Despite the situation, Zendejas told DailyMail.com in a press conference that he doesn’t want to focus on how he got to this camp, but wants to show that he more than deserves to be in the camp in the first place .

‘I don’t really want to pay attention to what’s going on outside as far as soccer is concerned,’ he said.

That’s our job, you know, I’m just focused on what I can do on the field. How can I help our team in the best way possible.’

Julian Gressel, DF, Vancouver Whitecaps

Julian Gressel’s story is an interesting one when it comes to international soccer. Not only is the Vancouver defender set to make his USMNT debut, he is set to play his first international soccer match ever.

Born in the Bavarian town of Neustadt, Gressel spent time at Greuther Furth’s academy, but never caught the attention of a German youth national team.

Gressel then attended Providence College in Rhode Island to continue his soccer career – eventually being drafted by Atlanta United with the eighth overall pick of the 2017 SuperDraft.

He won the MLS Cup with the Five Stripes before eventually being traded to DC United and then Vancouver.

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Gressel only became an American citizen this past November, allowing him to finally be called up by the USMNT.

At 29, he will be the oldest debutant among all the call-ups in this camp if he performs. Whether or not Hudson calls him up – given the amount of younger talent on the board – remains to be seen.

German-born Julian Gressel has never represented a country at international youth level

German-born Julian Gressel has never represented a country at international youth level

John Tolkin, DF, New York Red Bulls

One of the youngest players around, Tolkin has the most experience in a top flight league of any uncapped player under the age of 23.

Tolkin made his USL pro debut with New York Red Bulls II at age 17, making his MLS debut in May of 2021 at age 19.

He has been a reliable left-back for Metro, racking up 66 first-team caps in just two seasons. He is pacey, strong in defence, and quick in transition – often accounting for many of the Red Bulls’ chances last season.

Hudson described him as a, ‘big character, a funny kid who seemed to be good company. The one thing I love about him is like he has a real dogged determination like, he’s not afraid of anything.’

While left back is a seemingly set position for the USMNT at the moment – with Antonee ‘Jedi’ Robinson starting and both Joe Scally and Sam Vines behind him – Tolkin could prove a worthwhile backup option.

Or maybe it’s the first appearance for a player who could be a starter for the team come 2026.

At the age of 20, John Tolkin has become a strong presence at left-back for the New York Red Bulls

At the age of 20, John Tolkin has become a strong presence at left-back for the New York Red Bulls