Jurgen Klinsmann has called in a youthful, MLS-heavy group for the US national team’s first camp of 2016.
As is tradition for the January camp, which opens Monday in Carson, California and runs through February 6, MLS and developmental players dominate the roster released by US Soccer on Wednesday, with 20 players from the league named to a group with an overall average age of 24. Additionally, 10 players will look to receive their first international caps when the month-long camp culminates with friendlies against Iceland (Jan. 31) and Canada (Feb. 5).
“We start out our year with a January camp where we give the opportunity to the next wave of players to come in and make an impression and see if they are ready to step it up into international level, if they are ready to understand what it takes to become a National Team player,” Klinsmann said in a statement.
It’s not a completely inexperienced roster, however: USMNT veterans Michael Bradley, team captain and 2015 US Soccer Male Player of the Year, along with Jozy Altidore (both of Toronto FC), Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler, New York City FC’s Mix Diskerud and Jermaine Jones all are expected to play leading roles in the group.
Still, one of the camp’s main objectives will be preparing the 11 players eligible for the U-23 team that will compete in an Olympic qualifying play-in against Colombia in March. Leading that group is New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga, the US Soccer Youth Male Player of the Year, and former Stanford star Jordan Morris, who recently announced his intentions to join the professional level.
Seven players called up – San Jose Earthquake players Fatai Alashe and Marc Pelosi, VfB Stuttgart’s Jerome Kiesewetter, Miazga, Morris, Chicago Fire’s Matt Polster and Columbus Crew SC’s Wil Trapp– were members of the Under-23 team that placed third in the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic qualifying tournament last fall. Trapp captained the squad, while Kiesewetter and Morris tied for the team lead with six goals each in 2015.
“This will be more of an identification camp and a development camp,” Klinsmann said. “We want to give those players a head start into their very busy year 2016, but we also want to make it clear to them that it’s a huge opportunity that you have here to understand what it takes to step it up and to become an international-level player.”
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Both Miazga and Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe were tabbed again after receiving their first caps in the team’s final camp of 2015, for World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago in November.
Crew SC standouts Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani, Montreal Impact defender Eric Miller, Vancouver Whitecaps defender Tim Parker, New York City FC’s Khiry Shelton, Alashe, Pelosi, Polster, Kiesewetter all are receiving their first senior-team call-ups. And New York Red Bulls’ mainstay Luis Robles, the 2015 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, was called up for the first time since 2009.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
DEFENDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Marc Pelosi (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (Unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (Unattached), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)