Bob Bradley called 20 players into the United States national team training camp ahead of friendlies against Poland and Colombia. Three will try to earn their first caps. One was a surprise.
FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea will join Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, and Jermaine Jones in the American midfield, while Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Eddie Johnson handle the striker duties.
[inline_node:316468]Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo will helm a defensive unit that includes Clarence Goodson, Eric Lichaj, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Parkhurst, Heath Pearce, and Jonathan Spector. Tim Howard and Brad Guzan will split time between the pipes.
Notable absences from the list include the Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez, the Pachuca pair of Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez, and Jay DeMerit.
But the bigger story is the three new faces: Jones, Shea, and Lichaj.
The Schalke 04 central midfielder was a virtual lock to make his first appearance for the Stars and Stripes after finally getting healthy. He's jumped into his club side's starting XI and will do the same for Bradley. Expect Jones, Edu, and the younger Bradley to battle for two starting spots through the Gold Cup.
Lichaj hasn't broken through on the English Premier League level, but the 21 year old showed enough in a Carling Cup start with Aston Villa to get a call. He's the future at one of the fullback spots and should have an opportunity to play with Spector struggling and Jonathan Bornstein staying home with Chivas USA. Lichaj enters camp behind Bocanegra and Cherundolo on the depth chart, but he has time on his side. If his first cap doesn't come in Chicago or Philadelphia, it will happen soon enough.
[inline_node:316503]Shea's inclusion was the biggest surprise with the former U-20 player rewarded for his breakout MLS season. He has the talent to succeed, but needs to control his emotions. (Witness his red card against the New York Red Bulls.) If anyone can teach discipline, it's Bob Bradley.
Finally, Michael Parkhurst returns to the Red, White, and Blue after a long absence. Don't expect him to play much of a role going forward, but the former New England Revolution defender - one of the smartest centerbacks in US history - certainly deserves one last hurrah.
On balance, Bradley's choices make sense. This isn't the dawn of a new era in American soccer, but the manager's decisions indicate that there are changes on the horizon. Scrap the 4-4-2 anyone?
US ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Étienne), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Eddie Johnson (Fulham)