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USMNT kick-starts ‘Project 2026′ with additional friendly

Gregg Berhalter’s side will take on Slovenia in their first game of 2024 as the United States step up preparations to host the World Cup.

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The United States is looking to give opportunities for young players in a busy international schedule next year.

USMNT announced on Monday that the 2024 fixtures will begin with a friendly game against Slovenia on 20 January. The game will be held at Toyota Stadium, Texas and will allow Gregg Berhalter’s team to begin preparations for the 2024 Copa América.

The January friendly falls outside of the official FIFA international breaks, meaning that Europe-based stars like Christian Pulisic and Folarin Balogun will be unable to play. However the additional fixture will be used to give opportunities for players currently playing in MLS. The US league will not resume until the end of February.

“This is an opportunity for us to identify and work with the next generation of players who have the potential to make an impact on our program,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said.

USMNT focused on 2026 growth

Next year is set to be a busy one for USMNT, with a number of international competitions on the horizon. The United States will host the 2024 Copa América with the likes of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay taking on a select few CONCACAF teams.

The Olympics and CONCACAF Nations League also ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for young or fringe players to break into the team. Berhalter has promised to use the various competitions to test out his squad and build experience among younger players.

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“With the World Cup coming to the United States in 2026, we have placed a huge priority on getting as many players as possible experience in important competitions,” Berhalter explained.

“Between the Olympics, Concacaf Nations League and Copa América, the chances are there for players to make a statement, and for many of them the game in San Antonio can be an important first step.”

The January friendly could be a tricky one. Slovenia have qualified for the 2024 European Championships, finishing joint-top of Group H. However it remains to be seen how many of Slovenia’s first-choice team will be able to play against the US.