Klinsmann Preps for Future With Jan. Roster Selections
In 2013, Camp Cupcake becomes Camp Kinda Sorta Matters. Jon Arnold breaks down what to expect when the 25 men take the field at the Home Depot Center for three weeks of training.
BY Jon Arnold PostedThe U.S. men's national team's annual January camp stands as one of its strangest institutions, but the tradition takes on added significance in 2013. There are depth spots to fill for the final stage of World Cup Qualifying and a Gold Cup that will see many players get their first shot at meaningful action with the national team. With that in mind, Klinsmann called 25 players to train in Carson, California ahead of a friendly with Canada in Houston at the end of the month. His selections show a focus on not only adding depth but also improving on the weaknesses that have plagued the Americans’ first XI at times. The roster features lots of faces new to the national team scene; Eddie Johnson is the most capped player with 44, one of only five players with more than a dozen appearances for the Stars and Stripes. The back line is particularly green, with just five caps spread across nine players. That’s welcome news for many U.S. fans who want to see an injection of youth into the aging centerback ranks. Goalkeepers Tally Hall, the Houston Dynamo keeper, finds himself in camp after a sensational run to MLS Cup helped bring him to national prominence. Joining him are Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson, the duo long expected to be the future of American goalkeeping. The problem for those two, of course, is that the present of U.S. goalkeeping is going to extend at least through this World Cup cycle with Howard looking as strong as ever and Brad Guzan locking up the No. 2 slot. That said, the No. 3 position is up for grabs, as are spots on the Gold Cup roster. Defense Omar Gonzalez headlines the group. The 2012 MLS Cup MVP would’ve been in last year’s January camp but he tore his ACL during the first training session of a short-term loan to FC Nuremberg. Gonzalez’s play with the LA Galaxy in the second half of the MLS season assuaged any fears that the injury would reverse the positive course he’d been charting. The camp represents an opportunity for the centerback to prove he can compete on an international level. While Gonzalez may be the media darling, other players are perhaps more promising. Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler, who like Gonzalez is 25, is another exciting centerback prospect. He won the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year award and re-signed with Sporting after drawing interest from a number of foreign clubs. San Jose Earthquakes fullbacks Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow are capable of causing problems for both opposing attackers and defenders. Beitashour, a Persian-American also eligible for Iran’s national team, in particular has caught Klinsmann’s eye. He was an eyebrow-raising call-up prior to this summer’s friendly victory in Mexico, though he didn’t make the final roster. The fullback situation is less dire than it has been in years, but there's always room for more talent. Midfield The midfield has more national team experience than the backline, but not by much. Graham Zusi became a regular with the full team after a breakout showing in last year’s January friendlies with Venezuela and Panama. He scored the lone goal in the latter match and switched ably between the left and right wings in the former. Mix Diskerud, the young Norwegian-American playmaker rumored to be a target of Caleb Porter’s in Portland after he oversaw Mix in the unsuccessful Olympic qualifying attempt last spring, scored against Russia in the national team’s most recent match. Josh Gatt, who like Diskerud played last season in the Norwegian Tippeligaen, also appeared in that match and provides speed the U.S. has lacked too often in the past. Diskerud, Gatt, Benny Feilhaber, Brads Evans and Davis, and Alejandro Bedoya combine to show Klinsmann wants to add at least one attacking element to his midfield. Diskerud and Feilhaber in particular can create in the center, especially if they have players the caliber of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley to key off. Forwards The forward line brings only one surprise, with Edson Buddle back in the national team fold once again. He’ll seek to rekindle his club career after moving to the Colorado Rapids in the offseason, but the days of scoring in the build-up to the World Cup in South Africa seem so long ago. That's probably because it's been more than three years. It’s possible Klinsmann is hoping for an Eddie Johnson-like resurgence from Buddle, and maybe the Sounders star can share his secrets during the month. Juan Agudelo continues his world tour this offseason. He will join the group in Carson after a stint with the EPL's West Ham. (Zusi will also train with the club for a week.) Will Bruin is hoping to build off his quality MLS season in his first U.S. appearance, and Chris Wondolowski, the Golden Boot winner, will do the same. For the first time in recent memory, and perhaps the first during Klinsmann’s tenure, the roster doesn’t contain any glaring omissions. Landon Donovan remains on his self-imposed hiatus. Jermaine Jones, available because of suspension for the second year running, and Maurice Edu, available because he’s not doing much else at the moment, could be added to the roster later in camp. Chris Pontius, Brek Shea, and Nick Rimando are all nursing injuries. The roster certainly passes the sniff-test. Now it’s time to see which players will be sitting in San Pedro Sula just more than a month from now. What do you think of the roster? Are there any names you wish were included? Some you would like to remove? Please share your thoughts below. Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a freelance writer based in Phoenix and the co-host of MLS in 30 on NASN.TV.
January 07, 2013
January 07, 2013