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Projecting the USMNT January camp roster

Clint Dempsey USMNT 93

Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports


A busy year for the U.S. Men’s National Team is about to begin, and will do so with a squad filled with established veterans and unproven but promising youngsters.

The U.S. is set to begin its annual January training camp in the coming days, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has already laid out his plans for the first get together of 2015. Klinsmann wants to integrate new young talent into the group so as to further gauge where the next crop of players stands while also preparing it for qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.

While Klinsmann has said there will be 8-10 players eligible to represent the U.S. at next year’s Olympics on the January roster, there will also be a healthy veteran presence. The Americans have the CONCACAF Gold Cup on the schedule this summer, and having nearly a month to prepare for that tournament with several of the squad’s mainstays is invaluable, especially since the camp includes friendlies away to Chile and at home vs. Panama.

Klinsmann has called up 26 and 25 players to his respective January camps in 2014 and 2013, so the number of players summoned is likely to be around there. There will still likely be some notable omissions, but the squad should have a nice blend of talent and promise.

With that, here is SBI’s projected 26-man roster:

Goalkeepers: Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Cody Cropper

Rimando, Hamid and Johnson seem like foregone conclusions given the regularity with which they have been called up in the recent past. It seems likely that Klinsmann brings along one young Olympic-eligible goalkeeper in order to have him learn from the aforementioned three, and Cody Cropper might be favored if U.S. Soccer can negotiate an international release from Southampton.

Defenders: Jermaine Jones, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Shane O’Neill, Steve Birnbaum, Robbie Rogers, Dillon Serna, Oscar Sorto, Eric Miller

Defense figures to see a number of fresh faces in this camp given that all of Klinsmann’s regular fullbacks, including DeAndre Yedlin, are now playing abroad. That will open the door for the likes of a veteran in Rogers and youngsters in Serna, Miller and Sorto to state their cases.

Centerback appears to be more straight forward, with Jones, Gonzalez, Besler leading the way and showing the ropes to an Olympic candidate like O’Neill and promising up-and-comer like Birnbaum.

Midfielders: Lee Nguyen, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud, Graham Zusi, Luis Gil, Harrison Shipp, Wil Trapp, Miguel Ibarra, Brek Shea

There should be some fresh talent in the midfield, but not a whole lot. Zusi, Beckerman and the returning Shea are veterans who look to be good bets to be summoned, as do the recently-capped Ibarra and Nguyen. There should be some skillful Olympic prospects in the mix, however, with Trapp and Gil being brought along to continue to their development.

Michael Bradley has been left off because it is unclear whether or not he needs more time to rest the foot he had surgery on this past fall, and Shipp gets the call in the midfield ace’s place after an impressive rookie campaign.

Forwards: Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski, Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes

Klinsmann will likely lean on Dempsey, the U.S. captain, and Wondolowski to teach a couple youngsters the tricks of the trade. Morris and the uncapped Zardes each have a boatload of potential, but only the Stanford forward is age-eligible to play in the Olympics in Brazil.


What do you think of SBI’s projected roster? Is there someone who was omitted or included that you think shouldn’t be? Who would you call up?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. While I can appreciate the contributions of some of the Older Statesmen (Beckerman, Rimando, Dempsey, Jones….Even Wondo) it is time to give younger players an opportunity during this Camp.
    There enough players within MLS that have National Team experience as well as WC Experience to guide the younger players that these guys should be given this January camp off.
    Gonzalez & Besler can lead the defensive side w/out Jones. Make them be the role models and call in another young CB (Hedges) or Outside Back (Ferrell) to give them a taste.
    Likewise Diskerud & Zusi can lead the midfielders. Opening up a chance for Kitchen, Powers, or giving a last shot to Edu to show he can still contribute.
    Striker is a little thin in MLS at the moment, so would’t be totally against Dempsey being there….but there is NO Reason whatsoever to call in Wando. I’d much rather see Rowe, Bunbury, or Davies as an attacking option than Wondo at this point. Wondo is sooo far down the striker pecking order for the full team (Dempsey, Jozy, Johannsson, Rubin, Green, as well as Boyd & Gyau (when they return to health); that with Bunbury being significantly younger and on Par skill wise I’d take him in a heartbeat in order to test the younger fringe contenders than Wondo who’ll have nothing to contribute beyond this camp.

  2. Wondo better not be in the picture. Why do you need him to “teach youngsters tricks of the trade?”

    The team already has Dempsey, Jones, Beckerman and all the other regulars or past national teamers on it.

  3. I thought this camp would finally be the year Nagbe gets called in? 2015 was the year he would become a citizen.
    Even with a lack goals last year he is better than a number of the midfielders on this list!

    • +1 on Farrell. I think he should get a look. I was very impressed with him last season in the several Revolution games I watched.

  4. Since Cropper hasn’t played in any competitions since Koeman came in, and they are doing well, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is loaned or sold out. And then he might not be available. If he stays though I doubt they’d fight us because he seems to have a lot of time on his hands.

    I don’t understand why Hamid and Johnson are linked at the shoulder in terms of grooming. Yes they came in together as U23s but Hamid is a much better keeper, with close to a 1 GAA this season. Johnson is like 1.5 ish or so and sloppy. Rimando is obviously worth, Hamid, and then let’s shop some. USA has a great reservoir of GK talent to fish in, no sense making it like the iffy defense where it’s the usual suspects rotated.

    I think Rogers will be like Lewis at back, and I even liked Lewis as a mid. It’s a “bite” position and Rogers just comes off to me a little soft. The sort of thing that would bite you in the tookus in some big game if you went with it.

    Not sure about Beckerman on an age and peformance basis. He didn’t look mobile enough in the losses he played in, and he would be too old for the end of the cycle. If you are neither in the cards at the end nor playing so well that you would either lead by example or provide a stable center around which parts could be tried, then let’s try other people. In contrast, Jones still looks better than his competition.

    Wondo is a waste of development opportunity. Morris I would bluntly suggest needs to be de-emphasized since he’s not likely to be going pro before 2016.

    I would like to see Zardes get involved.

    • It’s hard to get a read on Cropper. He isn’t on TV so we pretty much have whatever the media says. Ives likes him reasonably well and I think Ives is one of the better media guys out there. That said nothing to really go on.

  5. JK should call in Charlie Davies. He is a great striker who is back in form. And forget about Chris Wondolowski. Too old and a lousy ballhandler.

    • Really, Wondo has scored the most goals in the MLS over the last 5 years, no one else is even close. It baffles me how people can say in one breath “dump Jozy because he doesn’t score” and “dump Wondo, all he does is score goals” and in the case of Wondo and all the other MLS players, it is an apples to apples comparison.

      Sure there is an argument that some younger player in MLS may have more potential, or a player newly to MLS is better, but except for Dempsey, Zardes and Nguyen none of them scored more goals than Wondo did last season. And this camp is for helping to assess who will be on the Gold Cup squad, not who will be around in 3 years.

      • bro, the only point people have about Wondo is that he’s not very good at anything (besides tap ins)…….. so sure we applaud him for a good career but at 32 he’s not needed anymore, he had his WC, had his chance (and shanked it)……. now go sit down

      • Then maybe you should watch him play some more. His off-ball runs are sublime, and with the Nats his combination play has been good, if maybe a little too unselfish. Someone like Jozy (not to mention the other young and unprovens) could learn a lot from Wondo. If cold hard results matter, then he’s the best MLS goal scorer over the last 5 yrs, as has already been stated. And anyone can, and has, missed what looks an easy shot for goal. Including Dempsey in the same game as the one you (and others) want to crucify Wondo for.

    • I would think if he had a done deal to come back to MLS soon, he might as well get in shape in US camp and play a little. But if he plays brinksmanship between different teams to maximize his deal then he’ll likely be doing that all January, and the need to keep the asset healthy might result in him being held out.

      Even though I think he should just find a good fit and sign a deal, which would benefit his club and country performances, I expect him to hold out for the best money.

  6. Doubt but would be cool to see Charlie Davies back. He isn’t the same player but still played well in the playoffs. Even Bunbury as he would be a tall winger option and not get knocked off the ball too easily.

    • agree that I’d rather see Bunbury than Shea. And why not give a serious look at Jack Mac or even Wenger at forward. Wondo has to be done, doesn’t he?

  7. Key players to this January camp are: Will Trapp, Perry Kitchen, Harrison Shipp, Dillion Powers, Steve Birnbaum, Bill Hamid, Cody Cropper, and Lee Nguyen

    I think these are the players I think we should really evaluate and see if they can be of any value to he USMNT. I wouldn’t mind seeing some if the Veterans tho. Rimando, Gonzalez, Besler, Beckerman, Dempsey, Zusi, Jones need this January camp as well. I think it would be pretty cool to see some of the World Cup team fellas chilling with the younger players.

  8. No more Wondo!!! We really need need to find centrel forwards, maybe Bjorn Maars or the kid with Readding, but Klinsmann needs to using over 30’s something failures at the World Cup.

    • Easy, he has upside (to go along with the bad days), and he just signed in MLS fixing his club issues. It is now up to him, like Adu before him, to make his international bed. He’s running out of chances and excuses but is still just 24 if he gets his stuff together.

    • You have everyone saying players need to go to Europe and push them self but then when it doesn’t work out, they need to be cut for some player at a lower level. If that’s what you’re going to do then why shouldn’t everyone just play it safe in MLS. Its like all the people calling for Johannsson to start, while he’s scoring less goals then Jozy did on the same club. Lets see if they can make it at a higher level first before writing off anyone.

  9. Zero wide players.

    Go big. Call up Wenger, Bunbury, Finlay in addition to Zardes and play them out wide in a 433. Let’s see who wants this. Let’s test Mullins and Tesho at cf.

    It’s early in the cycle and time to reach deep into the pool. I would add Powers to the squad to test his fitness for future consideration.

    Hedges and Marshall would be a great pairing – I think.

    • Ibarra, Zusi, Shipp and Shea; Dempsey and Zardes too. plenty of wide players.

      really wouldn’t mind seeing some established vets like Jones, Beckerman, Dempsey or Rimando given a break in favor of untested players like Rowe, Powers, Finlay, Bunbury, Wegner, Okugo, Akindele, Hedges, Mullins, Kitchen or Clark (certainly a deep group of almost usmnt good players) but thinking about it again Chile and Panama should be pretty good teams and we are 6 months away from the Gold Cup.

      • I’m not a Kitchen, Okugo, Rowe fan (for USMNT) but happy to see them get their chance, I can understand that.

        Dempsey, Zusi, Shipp aren’t playing wide at a high level. We know Shea’s limitations and strengths – what exactly is the point of putting them on display other than to take the opportunity away from somebody else? He will be the same player later in the cycle, right?

      • players grow and develop; i doubt it but hopefully Shea has learned somethings in England. Zusi has certainly played well out wide before and i still think Dempsey’s best position a left forward in a 433 or a 442. at this point its about getting them in good form and comfortable playing internationally before the tournaments upcoming.

        as far as Powers, he was awful last year and had a number concussion problems. Certainly someone with USMNT potential but do you take him over Beckerman and his camp presence or Gil/ Trapp and their u23 status, or Nguyen and his form?

  10. I would be slightly perplexed if Matt Hedges and Perry Kitchen aren’t in this camp. They have both earned it. And Jordan Morris should not be called back in until he turns pro. Olympic Team, fine. Senior Team, nope.

      • Hedges was near perfect for Dallas. And it’s not like Birnbaum is much younger… less than a year. Franco likely just sees DC play more often.

    • I’d agree with this. Even as DC United fan, I realize Hedges has been excellent in MLS. That said, its not as much a no brainer as people would think. Birnbaum, largely an unknown quantity outside of DC, was excellent last season and the only ROY candidate who was consistent throughout nearly the entire year (after taking over for injured Parke).

      All that said, Goffinho did report that three DC players would be on the initial roster (this is the caveat as I’m unsure if the initial is the same as the 25-26 man roster discussed by Ives above). They were, Hamid, Birnbaum and Kitchen. That coming from one of the best soccer journalists this country has every known. He doesn’t get things wrong all that often.

  11. I’m surprised so many WC veterans are on this roster. The article does not claim actual knowledge of veterans being called up. Typically, this camp is for youngsters and fringe players. JJ being called up last year was a fluke. I understand we have the GC this summer, but we had the WC in 2014, and few veterans were called for that camp.

    Another thing: our midfield looks so, so thin without JJ and Bradley in it. Scary thin. And to me, calling Deuce and Wondo seems like wasted spots (for very different reasons, of course).

    • Historically, the camp has been for whatever NT players are currently in MLS (with a few others thrown in). That has meant a lot of fringe players, but we do have a higher % of the national team in MLS than during Bob Bradley’s days.

      • Shame we don’t have an invite to the South America championships this year. Remember how we blew that during the early Bradley years by sending our second-stringers but it really did help settle a lot of things with that group.
        We got the send off to the few veterans who went with them but would soon be phased out (Conrad I think was one) and saw the younger stars of the time (Guzan and Kljestan). Helped really settle who was where with that group… but we haven’t been invited back since we kind of treated it like an Olympics.

      • I don’t think you’re giving that squad enough credit. That was a decent squad considering the USMNT just won the Gold Cup a few weeks prior.

    • I think the reason why there are so many WC veterans on this projected roster is because so many are now based in MLS (or are just in the off-season, like Mix) and free to attend, whereas in previous years more veterans were playing in European leagues still in season and not eligible to attend. My guess is that Klinsy would have no choice but to call them veterans in to keep them fit and playing… Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing a but a result of more players staying/coming back to MLS.

    • Easier to evaluate new guys next to established vets. Also better for young guys to learn playing next to the vets who know what they’re doing. Too many kids running around not knowing what they’re doing and nobody learns anything.

      • It’s a team sport.
        Wouldn’t be very fair to the likes of a Harrison Shipp to see how he plays with the USMNT if we don’t have any actual USMNT players out there with him.

    • I think so many WC players is no surprise, they are available and it is a USMNT camp, not a U-23 camp.

      A few youngsters are included both so they can learn what a USMNT call-up is all about in order to be ready when they are called up later and so the coaching staff can get an up-close and personal look at how the young players approach training.

      Of course Wondo is still in the mix, this is almost entirely MLS players and he is still the leading scorer in MLS over the past 5 seasons. It is hard not to recognize results.


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