The United States Men’s National Team took on Serbia in a friendly match at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday night as a continuation of the January camp. Included in this January camp are a number of young Major League Soccer players, many of which made their national team debut in this match.
One of those is Columbus Crew midfielder, Aidan Morris. The 21 year old, who was called up to his first senior USMNT camp by interim head coach Anthony Hudson last week, played the full 90 minutes in the 2-1 loss and was joined by fellow MLS players Walker Zimmerman, Jalen Neal, Julian Gressel, Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Vasquez and Cade Cowell in the starting lineup. This January camp serves as an opportunity for young players to gain experience with the national team against high-level competition in Serbia and Columbia, which the U.S. will face on Saturday.
Morris and the USMNT took the lead in the 29th minute thanks to a well-placed glancing header from FC Cincinnatit’s Vasquez. Serbia then equalized just before halftime on a free kick goal from Luka Ilic, before taking the lead on the opposite side of the break on a well-taken chance by Veljko Simic. Serbia was able to hang on to the lead for the remainder of the match, despite the Americans’ best efforts, especially late.
The USMNT will be disappointed with this result but will take solace in the exciting performances of some new players, including Morris. Other standouts from this match included Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Vasquez and 24-year-old Alex Zendejas, who plays for Club América in Liga MX, a team that will be Crew’s first opponent in the Leagues Cup this summer.
The performance from Morris was one recognizable to Black & Gold fans who have seen him develop over his first three professional seasons. In his central midfield position, Morris was able to cover lots of ground defensively and helped the U.S. win the ball back quickly several different times. In fact, Morris recorded 10 ball recoveries, which led the Americans.
Columbus fans are well aware of Morris’ defensive tenacity and effort, as it is a staple of his game, but may have been a bit surprised at his ability in possession on Wednesday night. Since so much of the Crew’s possession goes through fellow central midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Morris doesn’t always get a chance to shine in possession. On Wednesday night he was a really important and impressive part of the USMNT’s possession and build-up play. Morris completed 74 of 87 attempted passes, created three chances and recorded an impressive shot on goal from outside the penalty area. Morris has always been able to complete simple passes moving the ball from side to side but showed an ability to play forward through defensive lines on Wednesday night.
Black & Gold fans should keep an eye on this development as this is the next step in Morris’ young career.
Morris will have a chance to show what he can do again at the international level, as the U.S. plays again on Saturday night. There will be another familiar face to Columbus fans, as the Americans take on Crew striker Cucho Hernandez and Colombia at 7:30 p.m. ET at Dignity Health Sports Park.