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Gabriel Slonina makes USMNT debut with wondersave; Andrey Santos stars for Brazil U20

International duties

Serbia v USMNT Photo by Robert Mora/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina was let down by some desperately poor defending in his senior international debut for the US Men’s National Team, who lost 2-1 last night to Serbia in a friendly.

Both sides were fielding B-, if not C-teams in this non-FIFA-mandated national team break, with the US largely made up of MLS-based players and Serbia drawing almost exclusively from their domestic league as well (which is still on winter break). And the quality of the match spoke to the quality of selection, though the Chelsea youngster still managed to shine bright. The save (alternate angles here) he pulled off on a 3-v-2 in the first-half was worth the price of admission alone. Not bad for the youngest goalkeeper ever to start a match for the USA!

That save preserved a 1-0 lead, but then Serbia were gifted an equalizer just before the break from a free kick that was allowed to fly through the wall waist-high, before grabbing the winner just seconds into the second-half thanks to some comatose defending.

Slonina’s not the only Chelsea 18-year-old impressing on the international stage these days however, with Andrey Santos emerging as one of the players of the tournament already at the CONMEBOL U20 Championship in Colombia.

The youngster, who also captains the team, has scored in each of Brazil’s first three games, and is tied with teammate Vitor Roque (also a Chelsea transfer target) for the tournament lead with those three goals.

Brazil, who surprisingly haven’t won this tournament since 2011 when a certain Neymar led the way, are already assured of the spot in the knockout rounds with one more group game left to play. (Oscar was there, too, in 2011, though his true star turn would be at the subsequent U20 FIFA World Cup.)

Santos equalized from a header on a free kick against Colombia in a 1-1 draw last night, while against Argentina the game before he just waltzed through the middle of the pitch and finished with assured ease as they went on win, 3-1. Nice variety!

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