USA welcome World Cup hopefuls to January training camp
On Friday US National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed the 26-man roster for the January training camp in Carson, California.
This camp gives an opportunity for a lot of younger players to showcase their abilities for the future and for some of the more established players, who are in the offseason, an opportunity to stay fit. Although no decisions will be made as far as the final World Cup roster during this camp, Klinsmann will probably get an idea of what to expect come a few months time.
So let’s hop right into the roster:
Goalkeepers (4): Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders (10): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Harrington (Portland Timbers), Chris Klute (Colorado Rapids), Chance Myers (Sporting Kansas City), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
Midfielders (8): Eric Alexander (New York Red Bulls), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards (4): Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (D.C. United), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
One position it seems the U.S. will always be comfortably established in is in goal. The three keepers whom Klinsmann will almost definitely be taking to Brazil are Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando.
The first two are well respected Premier League starters and Rimando has proven himself time and time again when given his chance — most recently helping the U.S. win the Gold Cup last year.
It seems Sean Johnson is Klinsmann’s pick for the future with young DC United’s Bill Hamid a close second, but it’s likely neither will have an opportunity to knock off the experienced Rimando for the third goalkeeper spot.
In defence, the German coach has called up an entirely MLS group, including his likely starting centre-back pairing in Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, who started most of the World Cup qualifiers together.
Clarence Goodson is another player almost certainly heading to Brazil but this camp could be useful in helping him earn back a starting spot. Brad Evans will be looking to lock down the righ-tback spot, especially with national team veteran Steve Cherundolo recently coming back from a long-term injury.
But one player who is most exciting for the future is young Seattle rightback DeAndre Yedlin. The speedy youngster has impressed both at the youth level of the national team and as a starter for the Sounders this season — he looks to be a long-term project of Klinsmann’s and a player for US fans to be excited about for the future.
The most opportunity comes in the midfield. Klinsmann has brought on several creative midfielders in Mix Diskerud, and the new midfield lynchpin and recent MLS Cup winner, Graham Zusi.
But Jurgen has also called up Benny Feilhaber, which could be huge for the veteran. The Brazilian-born attacking midfielder from Sporting Kansas City used to be an integral part of the national team set-up, and has found his form again. He could provide a creative spark and some experience off the bench this summer.
Another young player many US fans are excited about is Luis Gil. The 20-year-old midfielder had a solid year with MLS Cup finalists Real Salt Lake and could be a true number-10-type midfielder in the future.
Up top, there’s no surprise seeing Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan but the big excitement is seeing MLS MVP Mike Magee get his first US call-up.
Klinsmann has been adamant about the importance of the MLS to the national team and it would seem ridiculous not to give the Chicago striker a shot at the international level. Magee’s flight from bench player to near top-scorer and MVP of the league in just a year was astonishing.
With goals not the easiest to come by (although that has improved lately) Magee could be valuable. It still seems as if Klinsmann will look mostly to his European-based strikers for Brazil in Altidore, Johannson and maybe Terrence Boyd but it’s satisfying to see Magee given an opportunity.
Looking forward to Brazil, this first camp of 2014 should give the US coaching staff some important insight into the battles for the remaining spots on the final roster.
It’ll be interesting to see both the performance of the fringe players against South Korea, in a friendly at the beginning of February, and to see which players can take their opportunity and land themselves a ticket to Brazil.