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U.S. National Team

Who Are the Three Biggest January Camp Surprises?

We asked Jon Arnold to read the tea leaves and name three players who have made serious strides in their World Cup campaigns. His response: Mike Magee, Michael Parkhurst, and DeAndre Yedlin
BY Jon Arnold Posted
February 01, 2014
9:09 AM
CARSON, Calif.—Twenty-six players were called into Jurgen Klinsmann's January training camp here in Southern California, and the entire contingent spent 12 days in Brazil getting acclimated to the 2014 World Cup host nation.

And then five athletes were cut from the team while one more name was added to the roster. Of all those players, these are the three biggest January camp surprises to date:

1. Mike Magee

The guy is as unassuming as they come, and maybe that’s for the best. Magee isn’t going to cause you any locker room issues in Brazil—quite the opposite. In fact, his great chemistry with Landon Donovan could prove to be a big bonus. Plus, the guy can flat out score. Has he ever done it on the international level? No, but neither have any of the other guys who would be competing for a fourth forward slot. Not to mention the fact that Magee is also a competent midfielder. Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t exactly pour cold water on the idea that Magee could be a guy who makes the 23-man roster for Brazil.

“Mike was an easy transition because he’s (been) around the block for quite a while, so he was not really nervous about it,” Klinsmann said at a news conference Friday. “He was happy, he was thrilled that he’s part of the group, and he kind of fit right in in the training scrimmages that we had and in the group anyway. He’s a guy that adjusts easily to his teammates and is out of the group right away.

“We are happy that we finally had a closer look at him, and hopefully he gets a chance (Saturday) to show this also on a bigger stage.”

Klinsmann sounded genuinely pleased to have brought the 2013 MLS MVP into camp. Will he prove he belongs on that bigger stage? If so, only larger ones await, and perhaps it'll be a curtain call in South America.

2. Michael Parkhurst

Parkhurst was the media darling at camp on Friday, with Jurgen Klinsmann responding in the affirmative to a question about the possibility of playing the new Columbus Crew man at left back. Going from playing almost negative minutes at Augsburg to making the World Cup would be quite an upswing for the Rhode Island native. He has the distinct advantage of playing fullback, a position where the United States is glaringly thin, but Klinsmann had other fullbacks and camp and wanted Parkhurst involved badly enough to call him in after the Brazil leg of the trip.

“We know him since obviously three years that he’s a very, very serious professional player,” the coach said in a news conference. “I think for MLS it’s exciting to have him back here because he has tremendous experience and an amazing attitude. Within the group, he’s a role model.”

If he can shine against Korea and become a regular in Gregg Berhalter’s back line, we could be looking back at this weekend as the one that launched a World Cup campaign.

3. DeAndre Yedlin

The biggest January surprise is that Yedlin’s hair didn’t survive the latest round of cuts, even if the right back did. He assured the media he has something special planned for the MLS season, but does he have a ‘do picked out in case he makes it to Brazil? It seems like a long shot, but there’s something to be said for staying in the camp this long.

Klinsmann said he had “three left backs and three right backs because we wanted to see some youngsters there.” Klinsmann saw some youngsters and sent Chris Klute, Chance Myers, and Seth Sinovic on their way. It’s speculative to be sure, but Yedlin is in Los Angeles, which seems to mean he has more of a shot than any of those guys.

As mentioned previously, fullback is a spot where a depth player might be needed. Maybe it’s the 20-year-old’s lucky year.

Jon Arnold is a longtime ASN contributor. Follow him on Twitter.

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