Who deserves to be in January's US camp?
January camp tim. It’s not the first-choice group, as the Liga MX and European-based players tend to remain with their clubs, but it provides some insight into the full depth of the player pool, and who might be close to stepping up.
It also marks the start of a new year, an always appealing concept, more so now than ever.
These 15 names had strong MLS seasons (when available), will be in or near their prime in 2022, and boast the upside to make a World Cup roster.
GOALKEEPER: Zack Steffen
DEFENDERS: Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Greg Garza, Jorge Villafana
MIDFIELDERS: Wil Trapp, Cristian Roldan, Darlington Nagbe, Russell Canouse, Kellyn Acosta
WINGERS: Sebastian Lletget, Paul Arriola
STRIKERS: Jozy Altidore
Decisions to make…
Earned it through MLS performances or previous accomplishments:
January camps usually have between 23 and 32 players, so we need at least eight more guys. Nobody listed below is a lock, but nobody would be a surprise, either. These players have established themselves as MLS starters and wouldn’t look out of place.
GK: Tim Melia, Sean Johnson, Stefan Frei, Bill Hamid
DEF: Matt Hedges, Ike Opara, Keegan Rosenberry, Brooks Lennon
MID: Marky Delgado, Michael Bradley
WINGERS/STRIKERS: Fafa Picault, Gyasi Zardes, Miguel Ibarra
Currently in club limbo
Due to one set of circumstances or another, these guys are in limbo with their clubs. The most important thing for a player’s career – and thus the strength of the national team – is getting regular club minutes. You could view this one of two ways: They need the status and emotional boost of being with the national team, or they need to be back with their club teams in preseason fighting for a spot. Your call.
Jeremy Ebobisse, Jordan Morris, Justen Glad, Kelyn Rowe, Matt Miazga
None of these guys have necessarily earned it through weekly club performances, but they have shown huge upside, either in MLS or with the Under-20 national team. The elite training environment could help with their development.
Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Paxton Pomykal
The young’uns in Europe
These three seem unlikely, but I wanted to mention them. They stood out at the U-20 Concacaf Championships, and have excelled with their respective club’s youth teams. They might be with their clubs’ first teams come January, or they might be with their reserve teams. If they are with first teams, let them stay in Europe; if they are with the reserve teams, it might be valuable for them to fight for Gold Cup spots.
Alex Mendez, Sergino Dest, Chris Richards
And a few players whose clubs are out of season at that time and thus should be available:
Romain Gall, Jonathan Amon, Emmanuel Sabbi