Breaking Down the USMNT's Roster for the January Camp
On Friday, U.S. Soccer and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann released their 26-man roster for the USMNT’s annual January camp.
The players included were:
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)
Here’s a breakdown of the roster.
The Usual Suspects
Among the 26 players called up, 15 were no surprise at all. That group includes Clarence Goodson, Brad Davis, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Landon Donovan, Nick Rimando, Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Tally Hall, Brad Evans, Kyle Beckerman, Eddie Johnson, Chris Wondolowski, Omar Gonzalez and Mix Diskerud.
At this point, Zusi, Besler, Donovan, Rimando, Evans, Eddie Johnson, Gonzalez and Diskerud are all virtual locks on the World Cup roster. In addition, Diskerud was the only European-based player named to the squad—the rest all play in Major League Soccer.
Goodson, Davis and Beckerman are in the running for spots on the World Cup team, and Chris Wondolowski has been repeatedly called up by Klinsmann in the past.
Sean Johnson, Hamid and Hall are all unlikely to make the team that will head to Brazil this summer, but with the U.S.’ two best goalkeepers (Tim Howard and Brad Guzan) busy in the English Premier League this month, they represent the U.S.’ best options in the fourth through sixth spots at goalkeeper.
The three biggest surprises on the squad were Michael Harrington, Chance Myers and Eric Alexander.
Myers has been a part of Sporting Kansas City’s excellent back line over the past few seasons, but has rarely come into conversations about the USMNT.
Harrington was a big part of the Portland Timbers’ revival this season and was the team’s regular left-back.
Eric Alexander was the New York Red Bulls’ regular starter at right midfield and helped the Red Bulls to the Supporters’ Shield in 2013, but was on no one’s radar (apparently other than Klinsmann) when it came to the USMNT.
Excited to See
One of the best parts of the USMNT’s annual January camp is it gives fans a chance to see who is coming up through the ranks in the U.S. player pool.
This year is no different and includes some very exciting prospects including Chris Klute, Shane O’Neill, Seth Sinovic, DeAndre Yedlin, Luis Gil and Benny Feilhaber.
Klute and O’Neill enjoyed standout seasons with the Colorado Rapids in 2013. O’Neill is a particularly exciting call-up because he is a dual international and eligible to represent the Republic of Ireland. Getting him into the USMNT setup now could be a big coup for the USMNT in the future.
Sinovic has showed significant promise as Sporting KC’s regular left-back—an area historically weak for the USMNT. Yedlin impressed many observers not only with his play in the Under-20 World Cup this past summer, but also with a strong rookie campaign in MLS this season.
Gil was also impressive in the U20 World Cup, has been strong for Real Salt Lake for the past few seasons and appears to have the type of creative passing the U.S. tends to lack against better teams.
Finally, Feilhaber turned a strong playoff run with Sporting into another USMNT call-up. Now it’s up to him to make the most of it. Feilhaber no doubt has the talent to play at the international level, but has dropped significantly down the U.S. midfield depth chart since the 2010 World Cup due to his inconsistency.
Although Dax McCarty and Mike Magee aren’t likely to shock anyone with their performances during the January camp, they both earned their places with strong MLS seasons in 2013. McCarty was the backbone of the New York Red Bulls midfield while Magee went on a scoring tear, finishing the season with 21 goals.
Now it’s up to them to prove they can play at the next level.
Where Are They?
It’s hard to have any real complaints about the January camp roster, as there are no obvious snubs.
It seemed plausible that Maurice Edu or Michael Parkhurst might earn a call-up as they almost never even make the game-day squad for their respective European clubs. In the past, Klinsmann has called up players being snubbed by their clubs and used the U.S. camp to help them generate some interest from other clubs.
Also from the European group, some thought Conor O’Brien (who has had several strong campaigns in the Danish Superliga) or Steve Clark (the 2012 Tippeligaen Goalkeeper of the Year who just signed with the Columbus Crew) might get call-ups.
Real Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler was a dark-horse candidate, but foot surgery appears to have ruled him out. Philadelphia Union center-back Amobi Okugo, New England Revolution right-back Andrew Farrell and Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers were also thought by some to be worthy of selection.
The biggest snub by Klinsmann appears to be New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who had an outstanding season in 2013.
Also left out was Carlos Bocanegra, who only 10 months ago was the team’s captain. Not calling up Bocanegra for this camp appears to be the final signal from Klinsmann that Bocanegra’s USMNT career is over.
In a bit of roster drama, Juan Agudelo was included in the original release, but removed only moments later. That has led many to speculate that a move abroad is in the works for the talented forward.
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