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Who should the USMNT call up for the January camp?

USMNT XI vs Trinidad and Tobago 77

It might be that time of year where most of us begin to focus on the holiday season, but it is also that time of year where Jurgen Klinsmann needs to consider who he will bring to the January camp.

If he is having one at all.

The U.S. Men’s National Team has held a January camp for several years now, but that streak could be in jeopardy in 2016. Not only was Klinsmann unhappy with some of the fitness levels of his players last January, but he and one of his veterans had a public spat about that topic that did not paint either in the best light. Adding more fuel to the fire is that no friendlies have been announced yet by U.S. Soccer.

Klinsmann has hinted since his arrival to the U.S. program that he could do away with the near-month-long camp or change its structure completely. Should he hold one in January, it seems probable that Klinsmann would use the opportunity to look at some of his regular call-ups, a handful of unproven players, and some of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team figures that will be fighting to win an Olympic berth next March.

Which exact players will Klinsmann select if there is a camp? Here’s a 23-man roster we could see:

Goalkeepers (3): Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson

Defenders (7): Matt Besler, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Hedges, Matt Miazga, Matt Polster, Dillon Serna, Brek Shea

Midfielders (8): Fatai Alashe, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Ethan Finlay, Julian Green, Jermaine Jones, Sebastian Lletget, Darlington Nagbe, Wil Trapp

Forwards (4): Jozy Altidore, Jerome Kiessewetter, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood

Some thoughts:

As mentioned above, expect Jurgen Klinsmann to bring in a mix of players. Leading the way, of course, would be the veteran crop, including Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, and Matt Besler. Clint Dempsey appears likely to miss out again due to Klinsmann’s desire to continue to look at up-and-coming forwards in the pipeline.

Dempsey’s absence would allow Klinsmann to the opportunity to gauge U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team starters like Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter, both of whom have impressed in recent months. Bobby Wood would also be in the mix here given his recent run of form for the Americans’ senior team, and the 2. Bundesliga’s winter break that lasts until February.

One surprise omission here could be Gyasi Zardes, who tied the record in 2015 for most matches played by a U.S. player in a calendar year. Zardes continues to be linked with a move abroad, and a formal transfer from the Galaxy would all but rule him out of this camp. If Zardes stays put in MLS, he would make the cut while someone like Galaxy teammate Sebastian Lletget misses out.

Lletget, however, has to be considered for a call-up. His play with the Galaxy was, at times, very impressive, and Klinsmann may want to see if the midfielder can bring that to the top international level. Other midfielders who Klinsmann is likely to be keen on seeing in an up-close-and-perseonal setting are MLS Cup champion Darlington Nagbe, crafty winger Ethan Finlay, and U.S. U-23 regulars Julian Green, Wil Trapp, and Fatai Alashe. Klinsmann regular Mix Diskerud rounds out the group, edging the aging Kyle Beckerman for a spot.

The defense is where Klinsmann may really opt to go young. Besler is a shoo-in, but after him could come more unproven but talented centerbacks like Matt Miazga, Matt Hedges, and Cameron Carter-Vickers. Out wide, Brek Shea figures to be in Klinsmann’s plans while U-23 players Matt Polster and Dillon Serna are also included. Portland Timbers left back Jorge Villafana deserves inclusion, too, but his impending transfer to Santos Laguna is sure to rule him out of contention.

At goalkeeper, there should be no real surprises. Nick Rimando could be among Klinsmann’s selections to provide guidance and savvy to the younger netminders, but the U.S. coach may just as easily choose three promising prospects. Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson would be safe bets in that scenario while a U.S. U-23 goalkeeper like Ethan Horvath could round out the group of shot-stoppers.


  1. I will say I’d like to see CJ Sapong at this camp. He’s gotten better at being physical and holding up the ball, he’s very good in the air, and next to a speedy guy like Wood or Morris I think he could help. The closest thing we have to a Kei Kamara or Fanendo Adi in our pool, even if he’s not the equal of those two. He impressed me with Philly down the stretch

  2. CCV is a little too young, IMO at 17 – but he looks great.
    Kenny Saief would be good.
    We shouldn’t forget about the Parker brothers (Devante and Shawn).
    Bjorn Johnsen has been tearing it up (if you follow NoShortCorners), as is some dude named Caesar Romero.
    Klinsmann has been in contact with some kid at Hamburg named Ashton Gotz.
    There is a guy, Adam Henley at Blackburn, a RB IIRC
    Lynden Gooch at Sunderland
    Robbie Kristo was at Saint Louis Univ, but left for Italy and play for some series B club.
    What about that French American kid
    Jordan Siebatcheu is another one – dual French/US in Ligue Un

    Soooooo many people. In addition to LLeget, Finlay….

    Wooten? Wood? Rubin if he is fit. I think Juan Agueldo should get a look. Eric Lichaj. Shea at LB

    I honestly think Dax should take up the Kyle Beckerman mantle for this cycle, or let him box it out with Edu – especially with JJ off the books for 6 matches.

    There are enough Wingers/Forwards there to legit play a 4-3-3 – with talented players on the bench!

    Given this new cycle, and the quantity of players that need a look. I’d hope he’d bring in 30+ players. That would make me feel he is at least looking hard (I know he is) during this obvious rebuilding period.

    I’d like to think Alashe would head, Brooks, maybe Miazga, maybe CCV head to U-23 to get those guys to the olympics. Maybe Harry Shipp, too.

  3. The players in this camp should have earned it by their play on the field recently. For forwards, goals scored per game is the most relevant statistic (but it matters only if playing the same level)
    in MLS in 2015
    Conor Casey 0.79 (only 2 starts, 14 appearances)
    Jozy 0.65
    Wondo 0.54
    Dempsey 0.52
    Gordon 0.46
    Davies 0.42
    Bruin 0.41
    Jack Mac 0.40
    Finlay 0.39
    Rolfe 0.37
    Agudelo 0.36
    Grella 0.34
    Feilhber 0.33
    Kljestan 0.25 and a whole bunch below Sasha

    Not all are forwards and some (Casey, Wondo, Gordon) may be unlikely prospects for reasons other than their ability to score goals in MLS. Others not on this list will join a similar list for next season, but not yet.

    The list mostly goes to show that there are no really great US goal-scorers in the MLS. Wondo is still king of that and none of the others, except Jozy and Dempsey (who has been injured too much), have shown they have what it takes to be consistently better.

    • True but Wondo’s stats are a little padded with PKs with 6. If you took those away he drops to 0.34. Jozy drops to 0.50 after PKs as well.

  4. If he doesnt include Lee Nugyen in that list then I want JK’s head now. He is far, far better than 3/4 of the list you made and absolutely better than Nagbe. And why call in Bradley or Jozy? Bradley is slipping fast and it’s not like another camp would make Jozy a good player or something.

    • I have to disagree. Sorry but I’m not sold on Nguyen at the international level. He is a player with good vision with some creativity who happens to play a position that the USMNT is sorely lacking in. But from what I’ve seen he is lacking in both size and speed (at the international level). I do wish he would get an extended runout from JK to be sure. I would love to be wrong.

      Nagbe is a different case altogether. He has both speed and the ability to hold the ball, and he looked the part when he got his chance in the recent qualifiers. I don’t think he’s an attacking #10, but he could slot in almost anywhere in the midfield and be a potential upgrade over anyone not named Fabian.

      • I don’t remember Nguyen ever getting knocked off the ball when playing for the NT; he’s generally neat with his passes and dribbling. So I’m not sure why his size (particularly as a #10) factors into your valuation of him as a NT-caliber player. Speed too, for that matter (he’s not a winger).

  5. I don’t have any issues with the Keepers selected, but Robles would be worth an honorable mention. I like the defensive selections, but would add Pelosi rounding it to 8 defenders. Midfield is where I would like to see changes made. To start there is no reason to bring in Jones. Would much rather Kitchen (unless he’s transferring to Europe). Not sure about Alashi at this point. If Kitchen isn’t available than I could see bringing him or Acosta. I’d like to see Rowe get a chance at some point as well (younger faster version of Zusi who can play wide or central), maybe instead of Green if he’s not released. At striker I’d add Agudelo, since there is word that the 2nd game will be in early Feb. and therefore Wood & Kiesswetter would likely be released back to their clubs before the 2nd match.

  6. sorry sbi but i disregarded anything you said once you included alashe and not acosta, alashe shouldnt be allowed to touch a usmnt jersey in the near future at least

  7. Villafana was best leftback during playoffs, call him.

    Kiesewetter, Siebatcchieu, Morris, Woods, and Wooten for attack.

    Acosta, as DCM.

    Rest: Altidore, Dempsey, Howard, Guzan and Bradley

  8. Why does Klinsmnn need to bring in Bradley, Diskerud, Jermain Jones and Altidore? I think JK needs to bring in new players to play and practice in one or two formations and in the position they are best at. For good or bad we do not need to see what are vets can do, we already know. What we need to see are more full backs, wingers and some promising young forwards from the MLS that have yet to make a camp, but have had great seasons in MLS U20 &U23.

    Or better yet, how about a U23 camp for the month with as many players as JK can get. God knows they will need it if they are to beat the U23 Columbia Team.

    And if JK want to bring in vets to look at for some friendlies this spring, how about some who were off the radar like Luis Robles, or even some of the newer keepers who impressed this last season?

    • If all a coach does is call in new young players, he may as well just train the U-23 (or U-20 team). The amount of time national team players get to train together is limited and precious. It makes a lot of sense to have the likely starters, who are available, in the camp so the younger guys can learn how things are done and how to combine with the veterans. (I think Dempsey should be in the camp for that reason.)

      For all the love shown here for the U-23 players, they are only barely alive in their attempt to qualify for the Olympics. It would be a mistake to think a wholesale replacement of the vets would be successful.

  9. Any thoughts on Steve Birnbaum? Didn’t catch any of his matches this season, so I don’t know what his form has been like, but I certainly thought he did well when he got capped a while back.

  10. Sebastian Lletget would be fun to see on the pitch at this level. He’s shown flashes of having that “it” factor and we’re in dire need of an offensive spark.

  11. Dax McCarty deserves another look and bring in Nguyen again. Not sure about Polster or Serna, we should have some others who seem more promising, IMO.

    • fullbacks?

      Villafana looks like an option. I have always been a fan of Tierney. I have never seen Kitchen play RB.. slim pickings.

      for the U23’s Okuono and Sorto, maybe Pelosi are your other options; I say that Serna and Polster are the top picks.

    • Not a fan of Dax McCarty or what he brings to the table, but I suppose he is a 5 years younger product of Kyle Beckerman. They’re similar in style but at least Dax is under 30.

      He’s incredibly solid but nothing note worthy. I’m not a fan of him at the international level, but I’d be happy to be wrong.

      • To be fair I think many of us were saying the same thing about Beckerman. He’s been the best American DM in the league this season and should be given a look.

      • To counter that, I’d argue Beckerman came back into the USMNT because of what he could’ve brought to the table of our group opponents. A lot of the past criticisms about him were true; slow player, with not much range in his passing ability. But he actually developed a REALLY good sense of positional awareness. I think once Klinsmann learned of our group opponents, he just really wanted to find a good, disciplined DM that will stay put and maintain possession (Beckermen got a lot of crap for always making the easy, safe pass, but at least he didn’t give it away). But we need more than just someone to break up plays if we want to progress. We need that Busquets type of DM who can contribute more than just an outlet pass.

        I’m with Old School. I just really don’t see anything in McCarty worth investing camp time over another, younger option. Although, I’d also like to be pleasantly surprised.

      • For what it’s worth, my opinion is that McCarty now is better than Beckerman was at the same age. McCarty is a much better passer, too.

    • Dax serves no purpose in this camp. he is a quality player but a position we don’t need. between the CMs listed above, and guys that won’t be included (i.e. Williams, Morales, etc.), it makes no sense to look at Dax.

  12. I really like this concept. this roster has 9 established national team players, 4 new MLS guys (Nagbe inc.) and 10 U23s. I would sub Jones for Zardes or Kitchen — then it would be all 28 or under – but shoot for these percentages.

    That said I doubt that Wood will be released, Green maybe and CCV idk? If all three are out call in more U23 MLS players like Sorto, Pelosi, Thompson or Acosta.

    always interesting holding a camp during a transfer window. Kitchen, Zardes, Jones, Villafana, Miagza could all be on the move.. if not they should be there.

    • Wow…that’s one hell of a homer list all right. The only player there that has earned a call up is Nguyen, and now that Nagbe is looking to be a regular, I can’t see that happening.

      • IMO Nagbe is better used deeper in midfield. Were I coach, Nagbe and Nguyen would not be in competition for the same spot. They could play together, Nguyen in front of Nagbe, with Nguyen as #10 and Nagbe as #8.
        Agudelo’s definitely earned callups, which is why he’s got them in the recent past.
        Davies is a different player from the kid who had lightening speed and teamed up with Altidore. He’s got much of his speed back but not all of it. But there’s no question that he’s now a more complete forward. Matt Doyle believes he’s one of the best forwards in the USMNT pool, so it’s not just homers that want him called back in.
        Jermaine Jones has said publicly that he believes Caldwell should be called in. Of course maybe that’s just boosting his confidence. Still, he had a fantastic year and is better defensively than Trapp.
        Farrell is raw but has great potential. I’d love to see him called in but I agree that he’s not at the level of Miazga, Besler, or Hedges.

      • Adrian – Mastt Doyle IS a homer. the guy can’t separate his bias when discussing the US. that all said, I love Davies and think it would be great to see him get a callup.

  13. “Should he hold one in January, it seems probable that Klinsmann would use the opportunity to look at some of his regular call-ups, a handful of unproven players, and some of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team figures that will be fighting to win an Olympic berth next March.”

    am i missing something? this sounds exactly what normally happens. not sure what point franco’s trying to make.

    • I mean he started and played 60 min. in the CL yesterday, so yeah he is playing. Disagree about him maybe getting a call-up, but he is playing.

    • Well he played for some little know team called “Bayern Munich” in some unknown tournament called the “Champions League.” He probably sucks.

  14. I don’t like this list at all. First, there should definitely be a U23 camp in January. They need all the time together they can get, and it would be a chance to see more fringe players in this camp with the full team. Dave Romney suggested there would be a U23 January camp in a recent interview. Also, Bobby Wood? How on earth would you expect him to be released? Last January, he was beyond out of favor with him club. No possible way Bobby Wood will be in this camp.

    • Luke, not trying to be rude but the article clearly says that Wood would be on break until February so i think that merits an inclusion. Anything these players could do to keep them sharp would in my opinion be a positive in the minds of their club coaches(on the flip side an injury has to be the negative). As far as the potential roster goes, why would we be calling in Bradley, Altidore and JJ?? Does the manager not know their abilities like the back of his hand and isnt the purpose of this camp to get a more of a look at younger players or guys that have not been with the team yet?? I digress though!

      • Fine that he tried to justify it, but never in the history of these camps has a German player been called in while in the picture with their club (obviously not counting when JJ was suspended). Absolutely 0% chance he is in this camp. Agree that we don’t need to see proven first team players.

      • rumor has it that the first of two games will be held on 1/31. Union Berlin’s first game back is 2/5. You’re telling me that makes sense? You don’t think UB will be holding any sort of camp before they get back into league matches?

    • He did not look good in the MLS final. He was slow, sloppy on the ball, and provided no real benefit above our current options. I admit I didn’t watch many of the Crew games this year, but from what I saw he failed to impress on the big stage. I would pass on him at this point.

      • Finlay looked bad in the MLS final as well but he is still getting called in and Villafana is not. Seems silly to judge call ups based on one game.

    • It all depends on how many players are actually called in. I am assuming more than 23, but who knows. With the new allocation money, Zardes will likely be sticking around so he will be included. The Israeli guy, Kenny Saief, is said to be included for certain per a recent report I just read. The rest seem like pretty likely inclusions based off of SBI’s predictions.

    • “No Tchani?”

      He was called in by Cameroon in November, and was really, really excited about it. The only thing that stopped him from going was an injury he picked up prior to that international window. Technically he’s not cap-tied as he’s a dual-citizen and hasn’t played for either the US or Cameroon at any level (I think, anyway), but he’s said previously that his heart is in Cameroon and they’ve shown interest, so I don’t think he’ll be getting calls from Jurgen anytime soon.

      • Actually the universal reporting after the Cameroon callup was he had an “injury” and was still very eager to get a callup to the USMNT which seemed iminent at least at the time. Maybe that reporting was all wrong and you know Tony personally, but that is definitely not the way I saw the Cameroon callup discussed.

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