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USMNT Training Camp: New defenders added, Holden interviewed

Jason Hernandez (reuters)

The U.S. men's national team added a pair of defenders on Tuesday to cover for the absences of Clarence Goodson and Cory Gibbs, and it was a pair of defenders you might not have expected to see.

San Jose fullback Jason Hernandez and Colorado central defender Ugo Ihemelu were called in by U.S. coach Bob Bradley to take part in the U.S. national team camp at Home Depot Center.

Were these convenience call-ups, with both players having resided in the area? Or were they next on Bradley's radar? Bradley and Hernandez have ties, with Hernandez having played for Bradley in New York and with Chivas USA. Ihemelu is a former LA Galaxy defender who has earned call-ups in the past.

Perhaps the more surprising development regarding the latest call-ups was the fact that KC defender Jimmy Conrad wasn't one of them.

The 2006 U.S. World Cup defender and 2008 MLS Best XI selection has been in the U.S. national team wilderness as of late, with his last call-up coming a year ago in the 2008 January national team camp.

While the U.S. camp is only two days old, we are already getting some good coverage of it from the folks over at Here is a video interview with U.S. midfielder (and key to the Houston Dynamo's future) Stuart Holden:

What do you think of Hernandez and Ihemelu getting the call? Disappointed to see Cory Gibbs drop out? Wondering where Jimmy Conrad is? Do you see Stuart Holden having a breakout year in 2009?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. So are these the same players that are going to be playing in the exhibition against sweden? Or will there be some diffrerent call ups. I am going to be attending the sweden game and I was hoping for so more regulars. Any chance for jozy or adu to be there. especially since there recent troubles in fifndin playing time(especially adu).

  2. Here it is, from the Unprofessional Foul interview:

    >BD: Which San Jose players have impressed
    >you since arriving? Do any of the younger
    >players stand out as having the potential
    >to play in the Premiership one day?
    >DH: The back four or five have been very
    >good all year and they are one of the best
    >in the league. Joe Cannon is a great
    >goalkeeper also. Of course, the Premiership
    >is a tough league so it is no easy. Jason
    >Hernandez might have a chance.

  3. Hernandez did have a solid year- and after ryan cochrane was injured (whom nobody here is mentioning of course) stepped in and remained first choice even after his return.

  4. Bobbo, you didn’t want to look at a LB? Mike Harrington wouldn’t return your calls? What’s the deal?

    Hernandez: From the games I saw, I agree with dcr vcr, Jason looked solid. Also, I think I remember some article where Huckerby was asked if he thought any of his SJ teammates could succeed in EPL, and he singled out Hernandez. So, for what that’s worth…

    Ugo: As Ives already said, limited to about half a season last year due to injuries, but has earned some looks from BA in the past, including one appearance in the 06 cycle after making himself a decent reputation as a solid MLS marking back with potential to play in the middle or possibly out wide. This is his first camp invite in BB’s regime.

  5. Hernandez is big yet very speedy. He also has a cool head and is versatile in that he can play anywhere on the back line. He was defender of the year for San Jose’s 4th ranked defense (Goals allowed). His call-up is well deserved.

  6. no arturo alvarez. I wonder if he really is thinking about Carlos De Los Cobos’ offer. I heard he was cap tied to the US during some olympic qualifiers? El Salvador’s been after him for a bit now

  7. You can be capped tied in a friendly, as long as it is a FIFA sactinoned “full international” match…

    However, I do remember the debate when we played Denmark’s B-team in 2007, about whether it was an official friendly that counted toward FIFA international rankings and official statistical records. The Danes denied that it did, while the US maintained that it was a full international (which I believe FIFA upheld)…I just remember it having implications toward Donovan being the US’s all-time leading goal scorer…

  8. I thought Ugo had played for Canada in the last Gold Cup or something.

    What’s his connection again? I thought he was Nigeria born, US raised.

    Hernandez had a good year but I didn’t think he was a real candidate. granted the US is weak on defensive depth.

  9. Ugo is already cap tied to the U.S. Friendlies do cap tie you in this case.

    Hernandez has turned down multiple call-ups by Puerto Rico. Good to see he finally got a chance to appear in the Red, White and Blue.

  10. Ugo is an underrated defender in MLS. Its questionable whether his best position is right back or center back, and this past season he has struggle with a hip injury, which I think he has had two surgeries overall. He is extremely athletic and good technically for a back, he just needs to get better at focusing for 90 minutes.

  11. Jimmy Conrad has an obligation. He is running a soccer camp in Texas from January 9 – 11. He can’t cancel it. It’s been in the works for a while.

  12. I know I was the only one to mention Jason Hernandez in the other post about being a possible call-up for this camp. He was one of the best center backs in all of MLS this year and up until yesterday (yes, he was better than Parkhurst last season), the most underrated player in the league. Also some credit goes to Ives for bringing Jason Hernandez to my attention in the first place with his NJ Best XI.

  13. I don’t know that anyone can be cap-tied against Sweden. Don’t you have to a cap in a FIFA sanctioned competition(tournament)? I don’t think friendlies count for that purpose.

  14. I just don’t see bringing in Hernandez unless it was a matter of convenience. Ihemelu’s another story – I understood that he was on the bubble, more outside than in. Others have speculated that this is about cap tying them (Ihemelu could play for Canada, Hernandez for Puerto Rico) but I don’t know that either will see time against Sweden.

  15. Conrad and BB don’t get along because Conrad is too outspoken and has now lost a step or two. There are only 4-5 guys called to this camp that will figure in qualifing and one of those has gone home already. The big players play in Europe and they will be the horses when it matters. This camp is to let Bob coach and look at a few guys up close for the later or to possibly cover an injury or two. As an example Califf is here to be with family longer and no for the training because BB knows all about him.

  16. I think Conrad should have been added. He could be a valuable asset for teaching the younger guys how to clutch and grab a player after you’ve been beaten. He’s an expert in the area of getting beaten then grabbing the guy that beat him..

    Seriously – the latest two additions are obviously practice players for a B team scrimmage with Sweden. What good would it do to field Conrad? BB knows what he brings, he’s too old and is no longer on the NAT radar screen. This game is about trying fringe players, not aging veterans


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