Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Sold-out San Antonio crowd sees USA fall to Slovenia in mens friendly

Sold-out+San+Antonio+crowd+sees+USA+fall+to+Slovenia+in+mens+friendly

A record crowd of 9,191 fans packed out Toyota Field in San Antonio to see the United States Men’s National Team fall 1-0 to Slovenia on Jan. 20. A goal from Nejc Gradisar was enough for the visitors to pull off a surprising upset. 

While the result is a shock to many, the roster brought by USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter was mostly Major League Soccer-based players. 

While the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston Mckennie and Antonee Robinson were not in attendance, there were still some players with a decent pedigree. Center back Miles Robinson, who recently left Atlanta United to join FC Cincinnati, started the game, while young prospect Diego Luna also featured. Luna was one of 11 players to make their national team debut, along with other top prospects such as Esmir Bajraktarević and Duncan McGuire.

Some have criticized these non-FIFA regulated camps, more humorously nicknamed “Camp Cupcake.” Fans believe that their purpose is just to drive up revenue, but in reality, it is to give many US-based players a chance to impress Berhalter. They could even play well enough for a chance to be on the 2026 World Cup squad. 

However, despite a weakened roster, fans will not tolerate a 1-0 loss to Slovenia when the opposition did not field any of their main players, such as RB Leipzig striker Benjamin Šeško. Many USA supporters have been frustrated at some of the results recently, such as a shock 2-1 loss at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 20, 2023. These have been common occurrences under this head coach, who struggles to win games against European nations. 

Despite all of this, there was plenty of praise to go towards the City of San Antonio for hosting this friendly match. Many, including Berhalter, praised the fans for bringing a great atmosphere and hosting the team well during their stay in the Alamo City. This match was the first time the US has played in San Antonio since April 15, 2015, in which the Stars and Stripes beat Mexico 2-0 in the Alamodome. 

A great showing from the fans will bring hope that more USA games will come to the city, both for the men’s and women’s teams. With such a large soccer fanbase in the South Texas region, there should be no doubt that more matches could be brought to expand fan support. With the United States, Canada and Mexico hosting the World Cup in 2026, U.S. Soccer should be doing everything in its power to garner more fans from different regions other than the Midwest and northern United States. 

While the result was disappointing, it was a great experience for many fans and players alike to represent the national team here in San Antonio. Not everyone can say they got to see their national team play, so it is an honor that many people will remember for a long time. This will hopefully be the start of more games coming to the area in an attempt to grow the game in this region. 

The USMNT’s next game is in the CONCACAF Nations League Semifinal against Jamaica on March 21. 

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About the Contributor
Connor Suehs, Staff Writer
Connor (he/him) is a junior communication major at UTSA. This semester is Connor's first at The Paisano. Connor covers UTSA Athletics and the San Antonio Missions, as well as the Austin Spurs for the Project Spurs Network and high school football for Texas Sports Productions. He loves to shine a spotlight on the power of sports within our society. Aside from writing, Connor's hobbies are playing video games, hanging out with friends and watching sports.

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